10. University of California, Santa Barbara
Forty-four of the buildings on campus at UC Santa Barbara are LEED certified and 47% of academic departments offer a class about sustainability, totaling 321 classes, with 217 faculty members who do eco-research. Fifty percent of the food served at UC Santa Barbara is local and 75% of waste is diverted from the landfill through recycling and composting, with a goal to make it 100% by 2020. Since the 1990s, the university has lowered its grid electricity demand by a third (thanks to 10 on-campus photovoltaic systems), lowered water use by a quarter, and lowered food waste by almost 35%. There are more than 10,000 bicycle parking spaces on campus to accommodate 10 miles of bike paths. That’s a good thing too since a whopping 94% of students take alternative means of transportation to get to school.
9. American University
The American University in Washington D.C. aims to be carbon neutral by 2020. Thirty buildings on campus are on track for LEED certification and the campus boasts of a 27-kilowatt solar array, along with D.C.’s biggest solar hot water system. The university also has a device called the Vegawatt, which turns cold cooking oil into electricity. AU is two-thirds of the way to achieving their goal of 100% waste diversion from the landfill thanks to a campus-wide composting program, trayless dining, which has reduced food waste by a third, and a quarterly e-waste drive. In fact, the university won last year’s national Recycle Mania competition. The institution also holds an annual Campus Beautification Day, a springtime tradition that brings the AU community together to make the campus greener.
8. Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Tech, located in Atlanta, was named one of the “best places for commuters” for its range of eco-friendly transit options including carpooling, mass transit, and natural gas-powered buses that move more than 2 million riders a year. Plus, the 440-acre school was named Tree Campus USA for its 25% tree canopy cover. But despite their verdant forest, water usage has remained the same since 2001, which is impressive because the school has grown to twice the size since then. Every structure built since 2008 is LEED certified and a 1.4 million gallon storm water cistern on campus helps to conserve water. The campus has been recycling since 1996, diverting 600 tons of waste from the landfill every year!
7. Stanford University
Over the last 5 years, Stanford has raised more than $430 million for environment and sustainability initiatives. The university is building a new energy facility that’s expected to halve the 8,180-acre campus’s CO2 emissions and cut its water use by almost a fifth. As many as 130 professors spanning 40 departments teach 700-plus sustainability-related classes and about 30 student clubs on campus are focused on sustainability. The campus currently manages to divert 66% of its waste from the landfill with a goal of zero waste.
6. Green Mountain College
Green Mountain College may be a tiny college in Poultney, Vermont, but it’s big on sustainability, describing itself as a “liberal arts college emphasizing environmental sustainability”. The college was one of the first universities in the US to achieve climate neutrality. It has a $5.8 million biomass plant that burns locally sourced wood chips to heat 85% and power 20% of the campus’ two dozen buildings. Since 2006, the college has sourced 1.2 million kWh per year from cows. Students visit local farms to learn about the bovine methane-generating process and are required to take a 37-credit environmental curriculum.