Awards & Commitments

Sustainability Stars Platinum logo

UNH is STARS Platinum Rated

As a public land-, sea- and space-grant institution, UNH has been dedicated to the public good for 150 years. Our forward-looking commitment obligates us to ensure that our students are empowered by an educational experience that prepares them to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainability in a rapidly changing world. Sustainability, the collective commitment to human dignity for all people and ecological integrity in all places, is fundamental to the public good and is a core value that is embedded within UNH’s Strategic Priorities and is one of nine Academic Performance Metrics.

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is an internationally recognized self-reporting framework. STARS is the most widely used tool for assessing campus sustainability performance and its comprehensive approach helps UNH to assess, measure and improve our sustainability practices across all aspects of the university – across the curriculum, operations, research and engagement on and beyond campus.

In September 2017, UNH became one of only three institutions of higher education in the country to earn a STARS Platinum rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This recognition places us at the highest level of sustainability performance among colleges and universities. UNH’s Platinum rating is made possible through a concerted, university-wide effort that engages faculty, staff, and students.

Today, we remain one of only nine institutions in the country that have achieved platinum level performance on STARS. In 2021, for the first time, UNH will submit under STARS 2.2, with more stringent criteria, reflecting evolving sustainability best practices. Maintaining our Platinum rating requires improving our performance compared to our 2017 submission. The UNH community has been working hard on existing and new initiatives, to ensure we can maintain Platinum, and to prepare and position us well for a leadership role, as a driver of sustainability and resilience, for the critical next decade and beyond.

Learn more about our journey

    Overall Recognition

    Curriculum Recognition

    • 1st to award Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, an honorary degree
    • 1st Dual Major in EcoGastronomy in US higher education: Integrating UNH's strengths in sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition, a new Dual Major in EcoGastronomy was launched in fall 2008. The dual major offers a unique academic program emphasizing the interdisciplinary, international, and experiential knowledge that connects all three fields. And as a dual major, the program provides a complement to any primary major. The dual major is a unique partnership between the Peter T. Paul  School of Business & Economics and the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, in collaboration with the University Office of Sustainability.
    • Award-winning environmental engineering & business student teams:  UNH engineering and business students have taken first place in their task at the annual International Environmental Design Contest (EDC) sponsored by the Waste Management Education and Research Consortium (WERC).  The UNH team has also won the prestigious overall Intel Innovation Award,  provided farmers with innovative solutions to waste management for the betterment of the environment and the safety of the farmer and have retrofitted an existing commercial building to reduce its environmental footprint.

    Operations Recognition

    • 1st land-grant in New England to sign the Presidents Climate Commitment: UNH was the first New England land-grant university to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and in the early leadership circle of signatories.  
    • Early developer of a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for higher education: UNH University Office of Sustainability  has partnered with Clean Air – Cool Planet to develop a novel greenhouse gas emission inventory that adapted national and international inventory methodologies to the unique scale and character of a university community.  Over 2,300 colleges and universities across North America have downloaded the greenhouse gas emissions inventory and “calculator.”  
    • EPA Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Award:  UNH was honored by EPA New England for our composting program. Other college and universities honored by EPA with Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Awards include Harvard University, Clark University, MIT, Suffolk University, Middlebury College, and Keene State College. "These New England colleges and universities are setting a great example by preventing more than 2528 tons of food scraps from disposal by using them for higher and better uses, including food donation and composting," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "Food Recovery Challenge Achievement Award winners are using food to feed people, not disposal facilities."
    • UNH was named Outstanding Community Tree Farm by the New Hampshire Tree Farm Committee for its role as a working forest that serves to educate the public on sustainable forestry.
    • Outstanding Civil Engineering Award (OCEA) for EcoLine™ landfill gas project: Forging an innovative and aggressive path to a clean energy future, starting in spring 2009 UNH will receive up to 85% of the energy used by the campus from the EcoLine™ project, a landfill gas-to-energy project that uses methane gas from a nearby landfill. The methane will be the primary fuel to operate the University’s cogeneration plant, which provides electricity and heat for the main campus buildings. UNH is the first university in the country to use landfill gas as its primary fuel source. UNH will sell the associated renewable energy certificates (REC's) to help finance the capital costs of EcoLine™ and to invest in additional energy efficiency projects on campus. EcoLine™ and selling RECs are part of UNH’s aggressive climate action plan called “WildCAP,” which will outline how the university will lower its emissions to basically zero and secure its leadership position in climate protection as part of its broader sustainability commitment. EcoLine™ won the 2008 Outstanding Civil Engineering Award (OCEA) by the American Society of Civil Engineers - New Hampshire Section.  
    • "Most creative renewable power" recognition from Plenty Magazine: UNH's EcoLine™ project was recognized as the "most creative renewable power" effort in higher education by Plenty Magazine. 
    • Transit ridership recognition: UNH WildCat Transit won the Federal Transit Administration "Success in Enhancing Ridership Award" in the 50,000 to 200,000 population category. Wildcat Transit was recognized for its efforts in getting at least 5% more passengers per year over a two-year period; UNH has used better traveler information, nicer bus shelters (with solar power lighting), and new biodiesel transit buses to increase ridership by 21 percent. 
    • "Best Workplace for Commuters": UNH has been designated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Transportation as a “Best Workplace for Commuters."  
    • Nationally recognized energy program: Ranked by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) (PDF) in the top 5% of universities in its peer group for energy efficiency, UNH has conducted an on-going energy efficiency program for over 30 years. As a result of this energy efficiency, on average UNH saves over 520,000 MMBTU per year - or approximately $4 - 5 million per year at Fiscal Year 2007 energy prices. 
    • U.S. EPA Energy STAR Buildings: UNH was awarded the first U.S. Environmental Protection agency ENERGY STAR rating for residence halls in the country to Congreve, Lord, and McLaughlin. UNH has received five more EPA Energy STAR Building Awards for residence halls Randall-Hitchcock, Sawyer, and Jessie Doe, for buildings P, Q and R of the Woodside Apartment Complex, and for administrative building Taylor Hall.
    • Award-winning Local Harvest Dinner: UNH's Local Harvest Dinner won a Loyal E. Horton Bronze Dining Award for a residence hall/theme diner at a large school.  
    • Environmental health & safety awards: UNH co-sponsored with Dartmouth College a new effort called the New Hampshire College and University Compliance Assistance Cooperative (NHC3UA). Membership now includes 16 additional New Hampshire universities and colleges. NHC3UA received both an U.S. EPA Environmental Merit Award in recognition of its commitment to the environment and an innovation award from the Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association. 
    • Renovation of Thompson Hall recognized: Thompson Hall was honored for outstanding restoration as part of the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance’s Preservation Achievement Awards, which recognize restoration and renovation projects and groups that saved critical New Hampshire landmarks.  

    Research Recognition

    • UNH is ranked 2nd in the nation for overall scientific impact in ecology and environmental science, as ranked by the Institute for Scientific Information.
    • UNH scientist member of Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel:  Berrien Moore III, then-director of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, was among the network of scientists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the prize with former Vice President Al Gore. Dr. Moore served as a convening lead author for the final chapter in the IPCC Third Assessment Report entitled "Advancing our Understanding.”
    • 1st commercial-scale organic dairy research farm at a land-grant: Responding to a need by farmers for scientific research to support organic dairy efforts, UNH is the first land grant university to have a commercial-scale organic dairy research farm
    • Unique agroecosystem research:  UNH researchers received a significant grant to study UNH's organic dairy research farm as a sustainable closed agroecosystem, exploring viable strategies for becoming energy independent. The $380,000 three-year grant, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE) program, aims to explore whether closing energy and nutrient cycles could help small family dairy farms in the Northeast survive economic vulnerabilities. The study comes as rising energy, feed and capital investment costs shrink the already narrow profit margin of dairy agriculture in the Northeast, threatening the regional sustainability of the industry. Such an ecosystem-level approach to a commercial organic dairy production is unique, at least in the United States.
    • UNH scientists awarded for UN global ecosystem-human health study:  Four scientists from UNH were among the authors of the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) awarded the Zayed International Prize for the Environment, considered to be the largest and most valuable environmental prize worldwide. Professors Charles Vörösmarty and George Hurtt, former research scientist Ellen Douglas, and former Ph.D. student Manoel Cardoso received the award for their part in helping author the four-year, $21-million effort, which was called for by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000. The assessment cataloged the condition of the globe’s ecosystems and their life-giving services. The five-volume MEA report brings into focus the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and establishes the scientific basis for actions needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems and their contributions to human well-being.
    • UNH students, faculty, and local industry partner with research grant: Two UNH chemical engineering students, the Biodiesel Group in the UNH Chemical Engineering Department, and MBP, Bioenergy, LLC of Conway, NH, won a $40,000 matching grant from the New Hampshire Industrial Research Center to automate MBP's patent-pending processor that turns waste vegetable oil into biodiesel fuel that can be used in diesel-powered engines or as heating fuel.


    • NH Farm to School chosen as Northeast Regional Lead Agency for national Farm to School Initiative: A collaboration of UNH and the NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture, the NH Farm to School Program connects New Hampshire farms and schools by integrating agricultural production, school food procurement, and school curriculum with the goal of developing a healthy, community-based, community-supported school food system. To date, over half of the K-12 schools in NH are participating in the NH Farm to School Program. In the fall of 2005, the NH Farm to School Program was selected as the Northeast Regional Lead Agency to explore the establishment of a national Farm to School Initiative. This role included gathering information on farm to school programs in the northeast, as well as leading the process of assembling a set of recommendations for the development of a national initiative
    • NH Farm to School wins "Champions of Sustainabilit in Communities" award. The Sustainable Endowments Institute awarded UNH one of five national Champions of Sustainability in Communities Awards for the New Hampshire Farm to School Program.
    • Growing A Green Generation Project Wins Preschool Gardening Award: The Growing a Green Generation Project, an initiative of the University of New Hampshire's Child Study and Development Center (CSDC), has been awarded a Wuzzleburg Preschool Garden Award by the National Gardening Association and sponsor "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" One of only 75 recipients nationwide, the project was selected for its demonstrated commitment to creatively and actively engaging young children in the gardening process as a way to help them get off to a great start and to develop a lifelong love of learning.
    • New Hampshire Estuaries Project awards: The New Hampshire Estuaries Project (now the Piscataqua Estuaries Project) at UNH received a $50,000 Climate Ready Estuaries grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to initiate a pilot project in the Oyster River watershed to identify road culverts that are subject to failure during the increasingly extreme storm events projected for New England by climate change scientists. The NHEP is partnering with the Town of Durham and the Strafford Regional Planning Commission on a comprehensive inventory of most major road-stream culverts throughout the Oyster River watershed, including portions of the towns of Durham, Madbury, Dover, Lee, and Barrington.
    • Organic Garden Club wins Student Organization of the Year:  Founded in 2003, the student-run UNH Organic Garden Club (OGC) was voted UNH’s Student Organization of the Year in 2007. The OGC maintains a two-acre site on a 30-acre, USDA certified organic parcel of land on the UNH Durham campus - the first certified organic land on campus. The OGC grows a variety of produce, which it sells to UNH Dining and at a weekly farm stand on campus. The OGC also hosts dinners at Portsmouth’s Cross Roads House and a monthly Durham community dinner at the Waysmeet Center. The mission of the UNH Organic Garden Club is to cultivate a campus-community organic farm focused on promoting social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
    • Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium (NECSC) founded at UNH: The first Northeast Campus Sustainability Summit (NECSC) was convened at UNH and was designed to convene the growing network of higher education institutions, non-profits, activists, and community members working to advance campus sustainability in the northeast region and to represent a growing network of institutions of higher education from the northeast United States and Eastern Canadian Provinces.
    • UNH Cooperative Extension's Geospatial Technologies Training Center Receives National Award: Environmental Systems Research Institute, of Redlands, California, honored UNH Cooperative Extension's Geospatial Technologies Training Center with its Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award. According to ESRI, the Center "has demonstrated vision and leadership using ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) technology to better serve the world."