Top 20 Most Sustainable Campuses

Last week, Sierra Magazine released its third annual Cool Schools issue, which ranks the Top 20 greenest schools in the country. The survey looks at all different components of a green campus (Academics, Administration, Efficiency, Energy, Food, Purchasing, Waste Management, plus a “Bonus” category) and rates them on a scale of 0 – 100.

Here’s a quick look at some of the top schools:Cool Schools Cover

1. University of Colorado at Boulder

2. University of Washington at Seattle

3. Middlebury College

4. University of Vermont

5. College of the Atlantic

… and three that failed:

1. Texas Tech

2. DePaul University

3. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
(home to a massive “clean coal” research center)

The survey highlights two things: First, Higher Ed is becoming increasingly innovative when it comes to fighting climate change. The students at the CU Boulder, which garnered first place on the list, were the first to impose a voluntary tax to support public transportation passes. Yale is home to a wildly successful local food program: up to 49% of the food served in the dining halls is local, and students operate an organic garden on campus that provides more than 300 varieties of fruits and vegetables. And at Berea College in Kentucky, students, faculty and staff can opt to live in an ultra-sustainable ecovillage.

The second important thing is that environmental track record is an increasingly important factor for prospective students. A recent poll by the Princeton Review states that a full two thirds of college applicants take this into account in their search. If colleges want to attract the best students—and stay relevant and competitive—they’ll be forced to make climate change and sustainability a priority.

If your school made the list, great! Click for a press release you can use to advertise the fact in campus and community newspapers. Keep it up!

Didn’t make the list? Never fear—this is totally a Teachable Moment. Click here for a sample Op-Ed and LTE to submit to a campus newspaper. Paste it, tweak it, do what you want—but make it known that next year, your school will make that list!

About Kristin

Kristin is a Program Assistant with the Sierra Student Coalition. She enjoys adventures, fighting climate change, and ice cream. She can be contacted at

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