How Green Is Your School?

Prospective college students interested in comparing colleges based on their commitment to environmentalism can look to Sierra Magazine’s ninth annual “Cool Schools” ranking of America’s greenest colleges and universities.

The ranking is based on an extensive survey, filled out by school administrators, that focuses on measurable environmental achievements. Results are compared to a scoring key, and schools are awarded a score out of a possible 1,000. Factors such as sustainability outreach campaigns, availability of organic or locally sourced food, organic gardens, sustainability-focused courses, certified sustainable buildings, energy sourced from renewables, waste reduction efforts, and sustainable commuting options help schools earn points. For 2015, more than 150 four-year institutions completed the survey.

The top ranking school for this year is the University of California, Irvine, with a score of 859.75. U.C. Irvine holds the top slot for the second year in a row, earning a score of 813.51 in 2014. In the past year, U.C. Irvine quadrupled its use of solar power, and added 11,700 solar panels to reduce its annual carbon emissions by 1,500 m.t.

The U.C. system has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. These efforts have helped four U.C. schools make the top 10 list for 2015:

1. University of California, Irvine
2. University of California, Davis
3. University of Wisconsin — Oshkosh
4. Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)
5. Oberlin College (Oberline, OH)
6. University of Connecticut
7. University of California, San Diego
8. University of Washington, Seattle
9. Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR)
10. University of California, Berkeley

See the complete ranking of all 153 respondents here. If you don’t see your school, contact your sustainability coordinator or public relations office to encourage them to participate.