Universities of Colorado, Washington Top Sierra Club's Green Schools List

Universities of Colorado, Washington Top Sierra Club's Green Schools List

Universities are getting increasingly green, both from an infrastructure standpoint of building green, buying gree and improving efficiency, but also from an educational standpoint, as students clamor for greener courses in greener settings.

The Sierra Club has just released its rankings for the third annual Cool Schools study, which looks at the performance of universities along eight categories, with a ninth "bonus category" for miscellaneous green deeds. The categories are: Efficiency, Energy, Food, Academics, Purchasing, Transportation, Waste, and Administration.

The top schools according to this year's results are the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a final score of 69 points and an A+ grade; the University of Washington at Seattle, with 68 points and an A+; and Middlebury College in Vermont, also with 68 points and an A+.

This year's rankings show similar results to the 2008 survey. In 2008, the number-one school was Vermont's Middlebury College, Boulder landed in 2nd place in 2008, and the University of Vermont at Burlington took 3rd place (it's ranked 4th place in 2009).

In 2007's rankings, Ohio's Oberlin College earned the top ranking (it's in 10th place this year), Harvard University was ranked 2nd (11th place in 2009), and North Carolina's Warren Wilson College took third place (18th place in 2009).

In an introduction to this year's results, Sierra Magazine editors Avital Binshtock and Michael Fox write:

Back in the day, high schoolers looking at colleges (and U.S. News and World Report) were mainly concerned with three things: prestige, location, and whether the place had a rockin' social life. These days, however, applicants look for something more: a school with green credentials.

"Ten years ago, I don't remember any student asking me about green campuses," says Steven Roy Goodman, a college admissions strategist at TopColleges.com. "Now it's quite common for students to be keenly interested in how environmentally responsible colleges are."

Today, two-thirds of university applicants say that a school's environmental report card would influence whether they'd enroll, according to a survey by the Princeton Review, a test-prep company.

As we wrote in our State of Green Business report earlier this year, universities are starting to ramp up their green coursework as well as reducing the impact of their campuses. And the greening of universities goes from new programs like IBM's partnership with a Nebraska school to launch the first green data center management degree or a recent move by Aramark to provide a greener take-out option in dining halls.

Below is a full list of the scores of the top 10 schools in the Sierra Club's rankings for 2009. For much more on the Cool Schools list, including a list of three schools that are failing the environment, visit http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200909/coolschools.

Click for full-sized. top schools table

University of Colorado at Boulder photo CC-licensed by Flickr user IngaMun.