Thursday, July 18, 2024

USC achieves Gold Star Sustainability Rating, aims for platinum ahead of olympics


The University of Southern California (USC) has attained a prestigious gold star rating for sustainability in 2023, soaring from its previous silver accolade in 2021. 

USC made this remarkable announcement during its inaugural Sustainability Press Pool held over Zoom on Friday, showcasing the university’s current sustainability triumphs and outlining ambitious goals for the future. 

Chief Sustainability Officer Mick Dalrymple unveiled the university’s latest achievement, disclosing the coveted gold star rating conferred by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. This esteemed rating, evaluated under the rigorous Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), underscores USC’s commitment to environmental stewardship and progressive sustainability practices. 

Out of 352 national and international institutions evaluated under the STARS framework, only twelve have secured the highest platinum rating, setting a lofty standard for sustainability excellence. Notable peer institutions such as Princeton, Yale, UCLA, and the University of Michigan join USC in the esteemed gold-rated cohort. 

Dalrymple elucidated on the significance of STARS, describing it as a collaborative endeavor uniting the foremost minds in sustainability and higher education to create a comprehensive rating system. 

USC’s journey to the gold rating demonstrates a steadfast dedication to sustainability advancement. From its silver rating in 2021, the university accelerated its progress, achieving gold status by 2023, a year ahead of its “Assignment: Earth” target, as Dalrymple proudly announced. 

The STARS assessment encompasses various criteria, including academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. USC exhibited marked improvements across all domains between 2021 and 2023, underscoring its commitment to holistic sustainability practices. 

To further bolster its sustainability initiatives, USC is implementing a range of green infrastructure projects, including enhanced waste management facilities and a comprehensive decarbonization program. This program aims to transition all university utilities from gas to renewable energy sources, aligning with USC’s ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. 

Dalrymple emphasized the pivotal role of behavior in driving sustainability outcomes, underscoring the importance of robust infrastructure to support eco-conscious practices. 

Looking ahead, USC remains steadfast in its pursuit of platinum status within the STARS system by 2028, coinciding with the Olympics hosted in Los Angeles. This global platform presents a unique opportunity for USC to showcase sustainable solutions to a diverse audience of world leaders and international spectators. 

While celebrating the milestone of achieving gold status, USC acknowledges the ongoing work required to realize a truly sustainable future. With an unwavering commitment to innovation and progress, USC is poised to lead the charge towards a more sustainable and resilient world. 

Dr. Edward Mungai
Dr. Edward Mungai
The writer, Dr. Edward Mungai, is a global sustainability expert. He is the Lead Consultant and Partner at Impact Africa Consulting Ltd (IACL), a leading sustainability and strategy advisory in Africa. He is also the Chief Editor at Africa Sustainability Matters. He can be contacted via

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