“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