With back to school season in full swing, we couldn’t help but wonder which colleges and universities are rated at the top of the green class. And with all the research that high school Juniors and Seniors put into selecting their future higher education institution, sustainable initiatives on campuses are becoming an increasingly important thing to consider. We did a little due diligence of our own with the help of Sierra’s Top Cool Schools, the Princeton Review’s Green Score card, and Greenopia’s University Ranking Guide, to save you the hassle. Here’s our report of the five schools that consistently make the green top 10.
Berkeley has made a pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014 and is in the process of implementing over 200 energy efficiency projects. They are making the entire process transparent and have submitted their emissions information to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) which requires that all new buildings be accredited LEED Silver or better, have one LEED building and 10 others seeking accreditation.
Evergreen State College’s thousand acre campus has miles of trails, a half mile stretch of beach on Puget Sound, wetlands, forest, and their very own organic farm. The farm has been integrated into the curriculum serving as a living classroom for courses in organic agriculture, ethnobotany, visual arts, beekeeping, forest ecology, and ecological agriculture. Integrated into the cost of tuition, Evergreen students all pay a self-imposed clean energy fee to make sure that 100 percent of their electricity comes from renewable sources.
A small college located in Bar Harbor, Maine, the College of Atlantic is for those who are interested in how humans interact with their environment and only has one major, Human Ecology. Carbon neutral since 2007, all of the electricity for the campus comes from hydropower. They have recently introduced a new Trans-Atlantic Food Systems program and an undergraduate green and socially responsible business program that’s sure to pick-up in the new green economy.
Middlebury College is set to become carbon neutral by 2016. Inspired by the students, the plan was adopted by their board of trustees in 2007. Not an entirely unusual move for a college that hosts one of the country’s oldest undergraduate environmental studies programs. The college also operates a biomass gasification plant, which runs off of sustainably produced wood chips that generate steam used toward heating, cooling, and electricity and supplement the otherwise one million gallons of fuel that would otherwise be used.
The only program that consistently ranked at the top of all three major surveys, the University of Washington has signed the President’s Climate Commitment and were founding members of the Seattle Climate partnership requiring the university to purchase power that is 100% renewable. All new buildings are required to meet LEED Silver standards, and they already have 4 LEED accredited buildings on campus. UW has a comprehensive composting program and currently diverts 40% of its waste. They also have stringent water conservation policies and more than a quarter of its food is grown locally, organic, or from fair trade sources.