Greenest Colleges: Did Your School Make the Grade?

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Image credit:SIerra Club.

For the third year in a row my organization's magazine, SIERRA, did what amounts to a senior thesis by researching and reporting which colleges and universities get an A (or an F) for their eco-friendliness. We call it the "Cool Schools" issue of the magazine, and it was unveiled this week.

I'm going to let SIERRA Lifestyle Editor Avital Binshtock take it away from here:

While the good folks at U.S. News and World Report ascribe certain measurements of prestige to their college rankings, we rated schools based on what matters most to us, and what two-thirds of college applicants say matters to them too: how green a campus is.

The honors go to . . .

1. University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, Colorado)
2. University of Washington at Seattle (Seattle, Washington)
3. Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont)
4. University of Vermont (Burlington, Vermont)
5. College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine)
6. Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington)
7. University of California at Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, California)
8. University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, California)
9. University of California at Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)
10. Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)

For the rest of the list (we ranked 135), click here.

To determine the nation's most planet-preserving colleges and universities, we e-mailed a 10-page questionnaire to sustainability experts at hundreds of schools and combed through their responses. The survey covered eight categories: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, and administration. Schools could earn up to 10 points in each category, and up to 5 bonus points if they had additional or unique green initiatives. Then we normalized the scores to create an out-of-100 rating system.

After we selected the winning schools, we asked student journalists to write about what their campuses are doing right; click here to read those accounts. We also called out three that fail, highlighted those that got extra credit, discussed what athletics departments are (or aren't) doing to be responsible on game day, noted green efforts at community colleges, addressed the green-jobs situation for recent grads, and examined the suspension of coal on campus.

Eager to learn more? Avital explains things a bit more during this interview on Sierra Club Radio.

The article in the magazine quotes Steven Roy Goodman, a college admissions strategist at, as saying, "Then years ago, I don't remember any student asking me about green campuses. Now it's quite common for students to be keenly interested in how environmentally responsible colleges are."

Kinda makes me want to go back to school -- well, except for that living-in-the-dorms thing.

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