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NMSU awarded STARS gold in 2018 Sustainable Campus Index by national organization

New Mexico State University has been awarded its second gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in its 2018 Sustainable Campus Index.


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NMSU has been awarded its second gold rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in their 2018 Sustainable Campus Index. AASHE is a publication that recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

AASHE is a publication that recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas. The impact areas are measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating Systems. The STARS report highlights innovative and high-impact initiatives from institutions in the most recent calendar year.

NMSU manager of environmental policy and sustainability joni newcomer became a member of AASHE in 2011, the first year of the Office of Sustainability. While the first year NMSU was awarded a bronze rating, newcomer used that rating as fuel to receive a gold rating the next two award periods.

“Three years later in 2014 we got a gold, mainly because of curriculum credits. We have so many sustainability-related or focused classes. Faculty and I got together and we looked at all the classes we have as a university. We wrote a definition for sustainability ‘related’ and ‘focused’ classes and then organized the classes under those headings. It totally changed our rating and so did getting research involved, which is a huge part of sustainability,” newcomer said.

Newcomer said having all the staff and faculty involved has helped to get the gold rating two award periods in a row.

“We have so many people involved from different departments and areas and this new version is a much harder report, but we got gold and we deserve it,” newcomer said. “This rating is a very big deal, it really is. It gives us a basis on how we do things, so it’s hugely important that we accomplish these sustainability measures.”

As a university, newcomer believes students should be taught as freshmen on how to be more environmentally conscious.

“What do we do in colleges? We educate people. So, here are incoming freshmen, everything in their dorms should talk about sustainability. When they moved in this year they got a reusable bottle for rehydration stations; they should be taught about turning the lights off and turning the air off when they leave their rooms, how to recycle everything and waste reduction. Everything we do in the freshmen residence halls should talk about sustainability,” newcomer said.

Newcomer also sits on NMSU’s sustainability council and wants to let interested attendees know that the meetings have changed to the first Tuesday of every month at noon in the Aggie Lounge located in Corbett Center. Attendees are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch and two speakers are currently lined up for the fall meetings. Also in December, the sustainability council will be hosting a “green” white elephant holiday party.

For more information, contact joni newcomer at 575-202-9989 or by email at newcomer@nmsu.edu