CMU Sustainability Reports, Awards and Distinctions

CMU is continually reassessing its sustainability efforts and achievements through various internal and external reporting and documentation methods. Externally, we utilize the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS). The AASHE STARS reports provide a comprehensive data tracking system to evaluate our sustainability goals.

STARS is a self-reporting framework for higher education institutions in order to measure and gauge their sustainability performance. It creates incentives for improvement and allows institutions to monitor progress in sustainability. STARS has a Bronze (25 points), Silver (45 points), Gold (65 points) and Platinum Rating (85 points), each which represent different levels of sustainability leadership.

The 2020 STARS report received a Gold Rating, with a score of 65.1.

The 2017 STARS report received a Silver Rating, with a score of 51.8. 

Past Sustainability Reports


2019 WasteWise College/University Partner of the Year
What initially started as a small student food recovery project in 2010 transformed into zero-waste dining halls that divert approximately 330 tons of food scraps from landfills every year. The university buys back some of the compost from Morgan Composting, completing the cycle. This initiative has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the 2019 WasteWise College/University Partner of the Year award for exemplary waste prevention, environmental stewardship and productive (re)use of materials. Although CMU holds other food recovery awards, this is CMU’s first time in the No. 1 national spot in sustainability.

EPA’s Midwest Region Food Recovery Challenge
CMU has received the EPA’s Midwest Region Food Recovery Challenge award every year from 2014 to 2017 for its continual dedication to waste prevention and food recovery.

The Food Recovery Challenge and WasteWise are both part of EPA’s Sustainable Management Program, which aims to prioritize using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles.


Waste Reduction

As shown with the CMU’s EPA awards, CMU has a strong commitment to waste reduction and hosts a number of student-led sustainability initiatives. 

CMU students also work with campus facilities to collect Styrofoam, plastic grocery bags (for recycling) and pizza boxes (for composting). Students also collect plastic stretch film and convert it into 250-pound bales, which are sold to Petoskey Plastics. The resin from the bales is then used to create trash can liners that the university purchases for campus.

In 2018, CMU’s waste prevention and recycling efforts saved 1,992 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to saving 224,600 gallons of gasoline, removing the emissions of 423 vehicles or removing electricity from 347 homes for an entire year.

The university is fortunate to partner with Waste Management, Isabella County Municipal Recycling, Petoskey Plastics, Morgan Composting and Aramark, a 2030 Food Loss and Waste Champion. However, none of these efforts would be possible without the work of CMU students.

On Campus Spots

Fabiano Botanical Garden, pond and gazebo

CMU hosts a variety of different spots showcasing different kinds of sustainability on campus, ranging from social, cultural, and environmental. 

The Biosciences and Educational Human Services buildings have “green roofs” and were constructed to reduce energy consumption. To learn more about these spots on campus and what sustainability means, check out our interactive, virtual sustainability walking tour

collage of different art around campus, featuring pieces from Warriner Hall, the Music Building, Art Gallery, Rose Pond sculptur

As part of our effort to encourage cultural sustainability and preservation, we also created a campus art tour to showcase the creative and oftentimes, unnoticed artwork on CMU’s campus.