Sierra Magazine Names America's Top 10 "Coolest" Schools


While it's been just a few years since I was in college myself *ahem* - I do enjoy thinking back nostalgically on those times. I also enjoy seeing how many young people today are taking major steps to green their lives and their campuses.

So of course I was excited to see the recent unveiling of Sierra magazine's list of the Top Ten "Coolest" Schools, based on each school's efforts to stop global warming.

These colleges and universities are taking the lead in creating a better world, and I am continually impressed by the initiative of the students, who are frequently the strongest voices in pushing the various green projects through the schools' administrations. And yet I know it goes both ways - school administrators can work just as hard to green their institutions. No matter who starts it, though, it benefits everyone, as noted by Sierra's Editor-In-Chief, Bob Sipchen."When schools take such significant steps toward addressing global warming, it will have a huge impact on hundreds of thousands of students," said Sipchen. "And if young people take that passion into their communities and careers, it will reverberate globally."

Enough delay, you probably want to read the list.

Sierra's Top 10 "Coolest" Schools of 2008 are:

1. Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont, 2,350 students)
2. University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, Colorado, 29,000 students)
3. University of Vermont at Burlington (Burlington, Vermont, 10,750 students)
4. Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa, North Carolina, 850 students)
5. Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington, 4,400 students)
6. Arizona State University at Tempe (Tempe, Arizona, 51,500 students)
7. University of Florida at Gainesville (Gainesville, Florida, 50,000 students)
8. Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH, 2,200 students)
9. University of Washington at Seattle (Seattle, Washington, 39,250 students)
10. Tufts University (Medford, Massachussetts, 8,500 students)

You can see that fighting global warming can be taken on by schools of any size, from 850 students to more than 51,000.

The sites that stood out to me included the University of Vermont at Burlington, where they buy 35% of the dining hall food from local farmers. Also, the fact that overall energy usage at the University of Washington has decreased 10% between 2000 and 2005 despite campus growth is very notable.

If you're wondering how the folks at Sierra picked the schools, they agree that it's an imperfect science, but they still stand by their picks as some of the most environmentally-minded school in the U.S.:

"The top schools earned points in ten categories: policies for building, energy, food, investment, procurement, and transportation; curriculum; environmental activism; waste management; and overall commitment to sustainability. A perfect score in every area would give a school 100 points."

To learn more about the schools, how they scored, why they were chosen, and to see the schools that got honorable mention and those that got failing grades, check out Sierra magazine online here.

Image credit::Gregg Gordon /GIGART