University of Colorado at Boulder Tops Sierra’s Ranking of Green Colleges

by | Aug 21, 2009

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top10greencollegesThe University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Washington at Seattle, Middlebury College, University of Vermont and College of the Atlantic are the top five “green” colleges, according to Sierra Magazine’s third annual ranking of environmentally responsible colleges. The Princeton Review and also recently released their green school rankings.

Sierra’s “cool schools” were ranked by eight categories: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, and administration. Schools could earn up to ten points in each category, and up to five bonus points if they had additional green initiatives. Click here for the complete rankings.

Steven Roy Goodman, a college admissions strategist at told Sierra that ten years ago he didn’t remember any student asking about green campuses but that now it’s quite common.

Sierra said instead of focusing just on one or two issues such as energy conservation and investment choices, students looked at a more comprehensive overview of each campus’s sustainability efforts.

Sierra also notes that some of the elite schools ranked high for specific actions. As an example, Harvard University leads the pack in energy efficiency, while Yale University revolutionized its food operations, and the University of California at Los Angeles revamped its waste management.

The Princeton Review’s second annual Green Ratings of colleges, released ahead of Sierra’s ranking, tallied its green ratings for 697 colleges based on environmental practices, policies and course offerings.

The Princeton Review also named 15 colleges to its “2010 Green Rating Honor Roll” that highlights the institutions that received the highest possible score — 99 — in this year’s rating. Both the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Vermont, ranked among the top 5 green schools for Sierra, did not pass the grade among Princeton Review’s top 15 green schools. However, Yale and Harvard, given special honors by Sierra, made the Princeton top 15.

The Princeton Review said the criteria used for the rating cover three broad areas: whether the school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable, how well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges, and the school’s overall commitment to environmental issues.

The institutional survey for the rating included ten questions that covered energy use, recycling, food, buildings, transportation, academic offerings (availability of environmental studies degrees and courses) as well as action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Robert Franek, vice president/publisher, at the Princeton Review, said there was a 30 percent increase in the number of colleges participating in the Green Rating survey this year, 697 versus 534 last year.

Nearly two-thirds of college applicants say they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment, according to a recent survey by the Princeton Review. Of these respondents, 24 percent said the information would impact their decision to apply or to attend the school.

The Sustainable Endowment Institute’s also released their ranking of the top green colleges, reports the New York Times’ Green Inc. blog. They rate colleges on several different areas of green compliance, such as climate change, energy, recycling, student involvement, green building, transportation and investment. Its top grade for overall excellence, an A-, was earned by 15 schools. Similar to Sierra’s ranking, the University of Colorado, University of Washington, Middlebury College, University of Vermont, and Harvard earned top honors.

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