Seattle University, one of top 10 most sustainable US colleges and universities

Seattle University, one of top 10 most sustainable US colleges and universities

Seattle University is one of the top 10 most sustainable colleges and universities in the US based on its latest Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report of April 2024, earning the highest Gold Rating in its history.

STARS is a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and is the most widely recognized framework in the US for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s social, economic and environmental sustainability performance. It measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects, including academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

Seattle University’s improved score can be attributed to a number of factors that includes the following:

  • Creation of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform Executive Committee
  • Adoption of a sustainability Laudato Si’ action plan
  • Reduction in carbon emissions
  • Commitment to offset Scope 1 emissions
  • Support for research and scholarship
  • Waste minimization
  • Strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusive excellence
  • Adoption of a sustainable procurement policy
  • Divestment from fossil fuels
  • Adoption of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Addendum to the Investment Policy Statement (In June 2022, the university’s Board of Trustees approved the ESG Addendum to the Investment Policy Statement. The ESG Addendum was developed by the Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Working Group and recommended by the endowment’s Investment Committee that the Board approve it. The purpose of the addendum is to provide the Outsourced Chief Investment Officer with ESG considerations that are to be evaluated along with other factors when selecting investments for the endowment.)

Sustainability is core to Seattle University’s Catholic Jesuit identity

As a Catholic Jesuit University, Seattle University’s ethos calls all to revere the life-giving force of the natural world, to care for our common home as responsible stewards of the planet, and to work for justice so that no peoples are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation.

The Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability (CEJS) serves as the hub for the university’s environmental programs and sustainability initiatives. CEJS promotes the university’s climate action and campus sustainability performance, recognizing the centrality of environmental justice to the university’s mission and values, and integrating the science, economics and ethics of this issue in programs, operations, and investments.

Seattle University’s commitment to sustainability is grounded in Jesuit values that date back more than 450 years, taking inspiration from Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, who encouraged his early companions to “find God in all things.” There are also the directives from Laudato Si’ in 2015 and the four universal apostolic preferences (UAPs) that the Society of Jesus released in 2019.

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment challenges humankind to take responsibility for the planet and be mindful of those who are suffering most from the ecological crisis and the UAPs explicitly states that Care of our Common Home is a vital part of the apostolic mission for the next 10 years.

“Inspired by our Jesuit values and by the example of Pope Francis, Seattle University is committed to being a leader in sustainability – in our research and teaching, but also in our operations,” says Seattle University President Eduardo Peñalver. “We have made significant investments in becoming a more sustainable campus and our latest STARS rating shows that we continue to lead the way among higher education institutions.”


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