UWRF Receives Gold Sustainability Rating

From helping stage Earth Fest in conjunction with Earth Day, to creating a bee hotel and a surrounding pollinator-friendly garden, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Sustainability Office and partners have taken an increasingly active role on campus and in the surrounding community.

Those efforts are reflected in a newly released rating in which the UWRF sustainability program has received a STARS Gold rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). 


STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. Ratings are awarded in Reporter, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels, with Platinum the highest. 

The current STARS report rating is the highest that UWRF has achieved. It is a measure of the commitment to integrating sustainability into as many aspects of campus operations and those of the River Falls area as possible, Sustainability Coordinator Mark Klapatch-Mathias said. The award’s official announcement on Earth Day is especially fitting, he said.

“I am extremely proud of the Gold rating because it shows the improvements we continue to make in ensuring that sustainability is a larger part of our everyday life here at UWRF and in the surrounding community,” Klapatch-Mathias said. “The students involved in our Sustainability Office have worked hard to increase sustainability practices in many ways. This rating would not be possible without their diligent efforts.”

UWRF completes a STARS report every three years and previously attained a Silver rating in 2021. It is the only Universities of Wisconsin school with a current Gold rating. The full UWRF STARS report can be found here. An abbreviated executive summary highlighting accomplishments and opportunities can be found here.

With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized rating system in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information about a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

Sustainability Progress

A key move that boosted sustainability progress was adding it as a core value at UWRF and making it part of the university’s strategic plan. That has helped garner more support for and engagement with sustainability initiatives from across campus, Klapatch-Mathias said. 

UWRF scored high in the STARS Report in multiple areas, such as incorporating sustainability into the curriculum and engaging campus and the surrounding community. Bonus points were received for such sustainability practices as having designations for Fair Trade Campus and Bee Campus.

Chancellor Maria Gallo said the university’s Gold rating is a sign of the strong commitment by faculty, staff and students at UW-River Falls to incorporating sustainable practices on campus.

“Sustainability is one of UWRF’s core values and is prominent in both the academic and strategic plans,” Gallo said. “Achieving a Gold rating and our highest score to date is an incredible accomplishment and a true demonstration of what is possible when priorities are set and the entire campus community aligns their efforts.”