McGill becomes oldest university in Canada to receive Platinum STARS sustainability rating

Achievement marks the highest rating available from the most broadly recognized program to measure sustainability performance in higher education, six years ahead of target.
Published: 14 March 2024

Thanks to the efforts of the McGill community, the University has become the oldest in Canada, in terms of infrastructure, to receive a Platinum STARS rating for sustainability. The achievement is the highest rating available from one of the most broadly recognized programs to measure sustainability performance in higher education.

Like hundreds of other higher education institutions, McGill utilizes the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS®) to evaluate its sustainability efforts. Having held gold status for the past eight years, the University’s recent submission earned it a Platinum rating, making McGill one of 14 globally and five in Canada to reach this status.

"In 2017, McGill set an ambitious target, to reach Platinum by 2030. Achieving this six years early showcases the collective commitment of the McGill community in pursuing sustainability excellence," says Diana Dutton, Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance.

“Reaching the Platinum sustainability rating is a significant milestone that we are proud of, but it's not the end of our journey” says François Miller, Executive Director of Sustainability. “With the world facing serious climate and biodiversity challenges, universities like McGill will continue to play an important role in finding solutions” he continues.

Highlights from the report

Several areas of progress, including these two, pushed McGill from gold to platinum.


McGill diligently pursues sustainability amidst aging infrastructure. Since 2016, the University has systematically integrated relevant LEED standards into its Design Standards, with all new construction or significant renovations now built to LEED Gold specifications, where eligible. In addition, McGill now diverts most of its construction waste away from landfill.


McGill has recently introduced several initiatives aimed at enhancing access to sustainability resources for its community. These include a new fellows program to support faculty in integrating sustainability into their courses, an elective on climate crisis and climate action and an introductory sustainability module that is available to all staff and students. The University has also incorporated expanded commitments to sustainability-focused teaching and learning into the McGill Sustainability Policy and Strategic Academic Plan, which will pave the way for new initiatives.

Looking ahead

McGill will release a new Climate & Sustainability Strategy in 2025 to continue to set ambitious goals for its sustainability journey. Consultations for this strategy are currently underway and will continue throughout the calendar year. Additional best practices, such as considerations of the next iteration of the STARS framework, will inform the development of the plan.

But there are projects already underway that we are proud of, like the New Vic project, which will be a state-of-the-art research, teaching, and learning hub dedicated to Sustainability Systems and Public Policy. The installation of new electric boilers is another significant initiative, expected to reduce the downtown campus' energy-related emissions from buildings by 29 percent in line with McGill’s commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.


The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. The STARS program is administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Using the STARS accreditation framework, educational institutions report on their achievements in the environmental, social and economic aspects of four overall areas that include academics and research, campus and public engagement, operations, and planning and administration. Due to the system’s broad scope and its peer review process, it’s considered to be one of the most reliable means of measuring an institution’s track record on sustainability indicators. As STARS continues to evolve, McGill looks forward to the next challenges that are presented to us.

About McGill University

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning three campuses, 12 faculties, 14 professional schools, 300 programs of study, and over 39,000 students, including more than 10,400 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,000 international students making up 30% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 20% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.

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