Cool schools 2014: What are the most sustainable schools?

Where does your school of choice rank on sustainability and why is this important?

The Sierra Club recently published the “Cool Schools 2014: The Full Ranking” to highlight the nation’s ‘greenest’ universities. It is a voluntary opt-in ranking system that is open to all four-year undergraduate college and universities. A total of 173 qualified universities and colleges participated in the survey to determine their rank. The top ten schools are:

  1. University of California, Irvine
  2. American University
  3. Dickinson College
  4. Loyola University Chicago
  5. Lewis & Clark College
  6. Stanford University
  7. University of South Florida
  8. Green Mountain College
  9. University of Connecticut
  10. Georgia Institute of Technology

The Sierra club ranked these higher learning institutions according to their quantitative data on co-curricular, energy, investments, food, innovation, academics and research, planning, purchasing, transit, waste and water. While survey responses provided the majority of the information for the report, researchers also conducted follow-up communication for unanswered or unclear responses. All information submitted by the schools was considered and helped determine the final rankings, which were applied to a rubric based on the Sierra Club’s environmental priorities.

Michigan State University Extension supports taking steps to create greener institutions and communities. While it may be tempting to think that universities and colleges that ranked last within the 173 that applied may appear not to support sustainability, consider the number of universities and colleges that do not participate or have campus sustainability support. Any effort towards sustainability is a step forward. Those higher learning institutions that do not embrace green campuses run a higher risk of losing students to colleges or universities that have sustainability programs.

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