The Sierra Club recently released its 12th annual "Cool Schools" ranking, which measures colleges' environmental friendless on factors such as where they source their cafeteria food, how they obtain electricity, and how much they teach students about environmentalism.
To create the list, the Sierra Club gathered data from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and ranked 269 qualifying colleges using their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) scores from the past three years.
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According to their analysis, here are the 15 greenest colleges in the United States:
1. Green Mountain College (tie)
1. University of California, Irvine* (tie)
2. University of New Hampshire*
3. University of Connecticut*
4. Colorado State University*
5. Arizona State University*
6. Dickinson College*
7. University of Massachusetts, Amherst*
8. Seattle University*
9. California State University, Chico*
10. Middlebury College*
11. Sterling College
12. American University*
13. Santa Clara University*
14. Chatham University
*Editor's note: EAB congratulates our member institutions who made the list. Member institutions listed above are marked with an asterisk.
Green Mountain College and the University of California, Irvine (UCI) tied for the top spot on the list, though neither school has attained complete sustainability, Sierra Club acknowledges. But Green Mountain College, which became the second campus in the United States to become carbon neutral, plans to power its campus solely with renewable energy by 2020. And UCI was able to jump seven spots to the top of the list, thanks in part to a new campus project that converts solar power to hydrogen and produces decarbonizing effects.
But Sierra Club didn’t just reward colleges for their commitment to carbon neutrality and renewable energy infrastructure. Some colleges—like the University of New Hampshire, Colorado State University, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst—made the list in part for their eco-friendly curriculums and sustainability-related course offerings. And other colleges—like Middlebury College and Sterling College—are featured for their missions to steward working landscapes and undertake ecological assessments of surrounding land (O'Reilly, Sierra Club Magazine, 8/27; Sierra Club methodology, accessed 8/29).
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