Catawba College Receives 2024 Gold AASHE STARS Recognition

Catawba College received a Gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) reaffirming its commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. They are one of only three higher education institutions in North Carolina with an active Gold ranking.

The AASHE STARS rating system is the leading tool for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Catawba College’s attainment of the Gold rating underscores its dedication to advancing sustainability initiatives and integrating environmental responsibility into all facets of campus life. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. 

“We are thrilled to receive this esteemed recognition from AASHE,” said Lee Ball, Catawba’s Executive Director of the Center for the Environment. “At Catawba, sustainability is a core value ingrained into our institutional culture. This Gold rating reflects our ongoing efforts to foster a campus environment that prioritizes sustainability and empowers our community to make a positive impact on our planet.”

Catawba completed its first report in 2023 and achieved a Silver STARS rating. Achieving their Gold rating one year later is a testament to planning and executing comprehensive sustainability improvements across campus operations, academic programming, and community engagement. Members of the College executed an improvement plan from their inaugural report in 2023 to achieve this mark with a 14.27% increase in their year-over-year score. From energy efficiency initiatives and waste reduction strategies to sustainability-focused curriculum and student-led projects, Catawba College is leading by example in creating a more sustainable future.

With more than 1,200 participants in 52 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: 1) academics 2) engagement, 3) operations, 4) planning and administration, and 5) innovation and leadership.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Catawba College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Catawba College continues to lead its higher education peers in embracing clean energy innovations and environmental stewardship. They were the first college in the Southeast to be certified carbon neutral in 2023, seven years ahead of their goal. Catawba became the first campus in the United States to add Haven solar shelters from Research Triangle Park, NC-based Spotlight Solar. Their renovated Center for the Environment reopened in Fall 2023 with enhanced energy efficiency measures. The college transitioned electric vehicles into its fleet and added a publicly accessible charging port and is in the process of adding additional charging stations. They also initiated zero-waste athletic events. The college is completing work on a new geothermal system that will provide efficient and clean heating and cooling for the Corriher-Linn-Black Library. Catawba is working with faculty across academic programs to integrate sustainability into course content and research.

Catawba College continues its bold commitment to enabling a thriving, sustainable future.

For more information on Catawba College and its Center for the Environment, please visit

About AASHE:

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation.  It provides resources, professional development, and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit

For more information about the STARS program, visit

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