Sierra magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, released its ninth annual “Cool Schools” ranking of America’s greenest colleges and universities and put University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the top 3.
Each of the schools ranked in the top 20 have displayed a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues and encouraging environmental responsibility, according to a news release from the club.
More than 150 schools filled out Sierra’s survey about sustainability practices on campus. Using a customized scoring system, Sierra’s researchers ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.
Sierra magazine’s top 20 schools of 2015 are:
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Davis
Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)
Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)
University of Connecticut
University of California, San Diego
University of Washington, Seattle
Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR)
University of California, Berkeley
University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
Green Mountain College, (Poultney, VT)
Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, ME)
University of California, Santa Barbara
Colby College (Waterville, ME)
Portland State University (Portland, OR)
“We’re so inspired to see how colleges are taking the lead on addressing climate change,” said Avital Andrews, Sierra magazine’s lifestyle editor. “From building green to saving water to offering hundreds of eco-classes, these schools’ efforts are profound, and are changing not only the campus grounds, but also the minds of the students they’re educating.”
This is UC Irvine’s sixth consecutive year as a top 10 finalist and its second time in a row as Sierra’s winner, thanks in part to three on-campus solar projects, a 19-megawatt turbine cogeneration plant, and energy-efficiency goals that are consistently exceeded.
Other factors that helped those at the top of our list: dining halls that serve organic, local foods; waste systems that divert trash away from landfills; transportation options that keep students and staff out of cars; academic programs that are heavily eco-focused; and strong methods in place to conserve water and energy.
“Young people understand the need to confront climate disruption and jump-start our economy. That’s why students across the country have joined the Sierra Student Coalition’s Seize the Grid campaign — demanding 100 percent localized clean energy on campuses,” said Karissa Gerhke, national director of the Sierra Student Coalition. “‘Cool Schools’ is a showcase of campuses taking concrete steps toward those goals. We look forward to working with these schools in taking the next step and committing to 100 percent clean energy.”
The full ranking of 153 colleges, including each school’s completed questionnaire, is online at www.sierraclub.org/coolschools.
UW-River Falls ranked No. 24.
UW-Milwaukee ranked No. 68.
UW-Stevens Point ranked No. 70.
UW-Green Bay ranked No. 78.
UW-Whitewater ranked No. 94.