A large group of people in a forest are using shovels to plant shrubs and trees.

Humber College has received a gold rating and improved upon its previous score in the latest Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) ranking.

STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Post-secondary institutions are measured on more than 60 credits that span a range of sustainability-related issues and receive a bronze, silver, gold or platinum rating.

The reports are done every three years.

This year, Humber scored higher than it ever has with 79 points out of 100 for a gold ranking. In 2019, Humber scored 71.

Lindsay Walker, associate director, Sustainability at Humber, said that in 2013, Humber received its first-ever STARS rating of 46. That was good enough for silver and, in just a decade, Humber has improved its rating to gold and increased the College’s score by more than 30 points.

“There's no way we experience an increase like this if the Humber community isn’t actively looking for and implementing sustainability initiatives in their own roles,” said Walker. “The Office of Sustainability plays a big part in supporting everyone in that, but we wouldn’t be here without everybody playing a part. That makes me very proud.”

Out of all the colleges and universities in Canada reporting to STARS, Humber was in fifth place and is the highest-ranking institution in the Associate category (institutions where all degrees are at the associate’s level, or where baccalaureate degrees account for less than 10 per cent of all degrees).

STARS provides a framework for measuring and understanding sustainability in higher education, including areas that directly or indirectly affect sustainability. Walker said it allows Humber to make comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements developed with the international campus sustainability community.

Walker said it’s not uncommon for post-secondary institutions to look at the scores other colleges and universities receive and take a deep dive into their rankings to see which initiatives earned them a good score. Walker has previously received inquiries from other post-secondary institutions that wanted more details about specific Humber initiatives after the STARS rankings had come out.

Walker said the credits cover many different areas across the college and allow her team to have conversations with staff, faculty, and the leadership group about sustainability practices and performance – which, in turn, increases the community’s understanding of how sustainability is embedded in every part of campus life. She added that STARS helps make the connection between issues including equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI); human rights; living wage; affordability; and support for diversity on campus, which are all critical to a sustainable future.

“These are crucial to making sure all members of the Humber community thrive and can participate in a healthy and sustainable future,” said Walker.

Walker was pleased with the ranking but said now is not the time for Humber to rest on its laurels but continue to improve its sustainability efforts to ensure a greener, healthier and more equitable future for all.