“It’s cool to stay in school,” a phrase we have heard hundreds of time and yes education is important, especially when the schools are ranked highly. As summer rolls to an end and students are heading back to classes, many school ratings are published. The US and World Report publishes their annual report in August. This year, to no one’s surprise Harvard, Princeton and Yale topped the list of best universities based on academics. But what about other rankings? Every year the Sierra Club also comes up with a list: the “Coolest Schools.” The “Coolest Schools” rank universities with the environment in mind. The Sierra Club offers a survey up to all universities regarding a total of ten environmental categories including Energy Supply, Waste Management, Food, and Financial Investments. Evaluations are made on the survey questions as well as follow-up inquiries.

This year’s list consists of 162 universities who answered the survey including big name UCs such as Irvine, San Diego, and Davis as well as the world-famous Harvard University. Even with these high-profile names, the one getting all the attention is Green Mountain College. Green Mountain College, with an overall 88.6/100 topped this year’s list of greenest schools. The school nestled in beautiful Vermont, ranked so high due to their creativity and the fact that their energy comes from biomass and biogas. They are hoping to move completely carbon neutral by next year.

Others in the top ten include Evergreen State College, Stanford University, and of course Harvard. Each University in the Top Ten has innovative green initiatives. I really liked the Northland College’s McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center which has composting toilets, solar panels, and a wind turbine. I also felt inspired by the University of Washington’s interdisciplinary Environmental Innovation Challenge. For a full list of all 100 Green Universities go to Sierra Club’s Coolest Schools.

Does your school or alma mater make the list? If you don’t see your school or want to improve your school’s environmental ranking consider getting involved with your college leadership or environmental activism clubs. There were a total of 900 schools who received surveys but did not complete them, if your school didn’t complete the survey, encourage them to participate next year and make a green mark on your school to make sure it is the coolest.

-Gina Williams

As a follow up to last week’s, Top Veggie Friendly Colleges post we wanted to also suggest eco-friendly colleges. Many Universities are making changes not only to improve the environmental impact of the college itself, but also prepare a new generation to fill the Green Collar Market. So we have put together a list of Top Green Colleges! There are several different sources that have ranked Green Colleges based on their sustainable campus life, school policies, and green curriculum. We found four main rankings: Princeton Review, Grist, Sierra Club, and The Daily Green. We have used these lists as a guide and have come up with the following list (and we are proud that both our Alma Maters made the cut!):

Top Green Colleges

#1 Warren Wilson College: Amazingly this school has worked in the Green life into every aspect of the school. Not only do they have an amazing recycling program, but the school is self sufficient (sustainable farms and forest), and they even have soy fueled chainsaws and bio-diesel fuels!!

#2 Oberlin College: Oberlin college boasts a slew of Green programs and has made an active effort to reduce waste as well as educate. The campus has a car sharing program, supports locally produced food in its cafeteria, uses a ton of solar electricity, and their graduation ceremonies are completely eco-friendly including bio-degradable utensils and programs.

#3 Middlebury College: Not only does the Green activist Bill McKibben teach here, but this school has been very active in climate change. They have even put forth a plan to make the school carbon-neutral by 2016 as well as a state of the art recycling center. They even have energy saving competitions between dorms!!

#4 Harvard University: Harvard usually tops everyone’s academic and sports lists, but now they can add Green rankings to their impressive resume. Harvard has recently changed all school vehicles over to veggie fuel from the cafeteria, they have the MOST eco-friendly buildings certified by US Green Building Council, and is one of the largest purchaser of Green and Renewable energy.

#5 Duke University: Duke has now required all new buildings to be certified by the US Green Building Council and is making an active effort to improve their green energy through wind and hydro-power projects. They are also pushing a biking campaign and discouraging its students to use cars.

#6 University of New Hampshire: UNH located in Durham, NH boasts an Office of Sustainability and in 2009 80-85% of their energy will come from a landfill source. They have also developed an organic dairy farm and a Sustainable Horticulture department, where they work with children in the area on developing a new Green Generation.

#7 Tufts University: Tufts was the first university in the country to pass a green initiative and won the US Climate Change award in 2005. They are committed to meeting the demands of the Kyoto target for emmissions and continue to develop solar panels! Also, this is one of our Alma Maters!

#8 Universities of California: Ok. We realize this includes 10 schools, but if we evaluated all ten separately they may have taken over the list! Every campus in this system has made efforts to use renewable power by 2014, increase use of low- to zero-emission vehicles by at least 50 percent, and achieve zero waste by 2020!! Also each campus has their own initiatives they are focusing on: UC Davis (our other Alma Mater) has sustainable and organic agriculture programs, UC Berkeley has an all organic cafeteria, and UCLA has really pushed the bicycling movement.

#9 Yale University: Yale has developed a superior alternative energy plan including: solar, wind, and geothermal energy produced on campus. They also promote using biofuels in cars and have incentives to employees who use a carpool system. And lastly they have developed a new school of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

#10 Evergreen State College: This public school hosts a large organic farm complete with composting facility. On top of this, the school purchases only 100% clean power, is in the process of switching to electric cars, and is building Green Buildings for future use.

Bummed that your school didn’t make the cut??  Well then take matters into your own hands!  It is after all the power of the student body itself that can have the most influence over university administration, so start talking to your professors and university staff and start making positive changes on your campus today!

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