The Princeton Review researches issues of sustainability as they pertain to college and every year they publish their green ratings. In April, 2010, they partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council to produce The Princeton Review’s Guide to 286 Green Colleges.
The Princeton Review’s second annual Green Rating evaluates colleges and universities on their environmentally-related policies, practices and academic offerings. Each of this year’s 697 colleges were assessed and assigned a Green Rating.
Here is an alphabetical list of the top 18 schools leading the way with their commitment to sustainability. All of these schools received the highest green rating possible and earned a place on what is known as The Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll.
Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus
Curriculum: Established in 2007, ASU’s School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the US. Sustainability is a fundamental precept underlying its teaching and learning, research and business missions. The school offers transdisciplinary degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges. The school has over 60 faculty representing over 40 disciplines and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs along with professional certificates.
Campus: The Tempe campus has the largest collection of energy-providing solar panels on a single US university campus. ASU subsidizes bus and light rail passes for all students and employees and offers car-sharing and a carpool program with special parking privileges. A student-run bicycle co-op offers low- or no-cost bike repairs and free bike rentals.
College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, ME)
Curriculum: This college has one major, Human Ecology. How humans relate to our environment is the core of the curriculum. COA has a new Trans-Atlantic Food Systems program and a growing undergraduate green and socially responsible business program.
Campus: COA has been carbon neutral since 2007. All electricity comes from renewable hydropower; new buildings and some old are cleanly heated via renewable wood pellets. An organic Beech Hill Farm (partially powered by a wind turbine) offers organic produce to campus, local schools and food banks. Recycling bins are in every office, composting bins in every kitchen and composting toilets in all new buildings.
The Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA)
Curriculum: The Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education at Evergreen has launched the Curriculum for the Bioregion, an effort that focuses on incorporating environmental and sustainability issues into general education college courses throughout the Pacific Northwest. Students recently launched the Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, an effort to put their business skills to use in socially responsible ventures. Their on-campus farm is used to teach a broad range of courses such as small-scale organic agriculture, ethnobotany, visual arts, beekeeping, forest ecology, and ecological agriculture.
Campus: Spread over one thousand-acres, this campus features miles of trails, a half mile of beach on Puget Sound, wetlands, forests and an organic farm. Evergreen has purchased a fleet of electric cars to replace many of its gasoline and diesel vehicles. Evergreen students pay a self-imposed clean energy fee to ensure that 100 percent of the college’s electricity comes from renewable sources. The school has also reduced its landfill waste by more than 97,000 pounds since 2008.
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
Curriculum: With 21 endowed chairs, 23 research chairs and more than 100 sustainable classes Georgia Tech offers a comprehensive green curriculum.
Campus: Sustainability is a key component of Georgia Tech’s Campus Master Plan and Landscape Master Plan. Besides using environmentally friendly hand soap, paper products, cleaning equipment and other supplies, Georgia Tech requires that all vendors provide green products. The Institute’s cleaning equipment uses 70 percent less water and 90 percent less chemicals than traditional equipment. To further conserve water resources, Georgia Tech’s dining halls initiated a trayless system. The Institute’s inaugural football game day recycling program collected nearly 12 tons of aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles from home game attendees. In 2008, Georgia Tech’s urban campus was recognized as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Harvard College (Cambridge, MA)
Curriculum: This school offers students opportunities to study sustainability and conduct academic research on the environment. Harvard is dedicated to confronting the challenges of climate change and global sustainability through academic research
Campus: Harvard translates their research into action on campus. The school’s goal is to reduce emissions 30% below a 2006 baseline by 2016. These commitments are administered through the Harvard Office for Sustainability. Harvard now has 62 building projects in process toward achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, a 55% recycling rate, renewable energy projects on campus, composting in residential and commercial dining halls, organic landscaping in Harvard Yard, and a drive-alone rate of only 16.5%, to name just a few examples.
Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
Curriculum: Northeastern offers degree programs in Environmental Studies as well as green MBA’s. They also focus on sustainable technology and green health care. The college’s intent is to offer a rich variety of sustainability programming to meet the interests of their students. Sustainability programming is already in place in many units and they anticipate that it will increase as they hire additional faculty with sustainability-based research interests.
Campus: This school has integrated energy conservation into its facilities management plans since the 1980s. Most recently, the school replaced 70,000 traditional lamps with fluorescent lamps that will reduce carbon emissions by 686 tons annually. International Village, Northeastern’s new mixed-use dorm/office building, will be submitted for LEED Gold certification. Once certified, International Village will be the largest residence hall in the United States to meet this standard of sustainability. Additionally, International Village is working with a national non-profit to improve the environmental impact of its dining hall. As a result of “Project Clean Plate”, an aggressive food composting initiative, approximately 594 tons of dining hall service and catering food waste was composted in 2008. This numbers is expected to increase dramatically in 2009. Northeastern’s recycling program started over 20 years ago and has expanded to include thirteen different categories of collected items, including asphalt and construction materials.
Northland College (Ashland, WI)
Curriculum: Northland built a commitment to green into the curriculum almost 40 years ago. They offer everything from Sustainable Business to Sustainable Agriculture.
Campus: This school’s environmentally-conscious residence hall, the McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center, was a model of excellence for green building before LEED existed. The college has committed to obtaining LEED Silver certification on all new buildings on campus. Northland has two wind towers, numerous solar panels, geothermal heat in the campus center and library, and furniture made from recycled materials. Students have even built a campus building that is entirely off the grid, using locally-produced materials. Northland’s dining services is a model of green eating. It offers sustainably-harvested seafood, organic and fair trade options, free-range meat, and plenty of non-meat options. Dining services provides each student with a free mug, and offers drink discounts when they reuse it.
Curriculum: This University has established innovative and creative opportunities both inside and outside the classroom to engage and educate students in ‘going green.’
Campus: The Binghamton campus encompasses almost 900 acres of land, of which a large proportion is undeveloped and in its natural state. The core of this undeveloped land is officially designated the Nature Preserve, and includes hiking trails and a 20 acre wetland. Each year approximately 2,500 pounds of compostable waste is collected around campus. Binghamton either recycles or composts more than 90 percent of its current service ware. An energy conservation contest pits residential communities against one another to see who can reduce energy consumption the most over a nine-week period. The 2009 contest resulted in a 7.5 percent overall reduction in electricity consumption.
Unity College (Unity, ME)
Curriculum: Also known as America’s Environmental College, Unity offers unique green majors like Sustainability Design and Technology, and Adventure Education Leadership, as well as more traditional offerings like Ecology and Marine Biology.
Campus: Unity derives 100 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources, all of its grounds are maintained organically, and it uses only Green Seal-certified cleaning products. The university’s location on 225 wooded acres of farmland with plenty of diverse ecosystems, including a peat bog and a pond, provides students with experiential learning opportunities. Unity’s Center for Environmental Education teaches students how to become effective environmental educators, and the career services office offers over 80 environmental internships each year. University administrators serve as role models for the eco-conscious student body. The president and his wife live on campus in the Unity House, which is built from local wood and recycled building materials. The house uses solar energy for electricity and hot water, and has zero net-energy consumption and carbon emissions.
University of California–Berkeley
Curriculum: Berkeley has more than 80 academic degrees, 90 research centers, and 25 student-run organizations with an environmental focus.
Campus: Student projects have reduced energy consumption by over 8.5 million kWh and water usage by 3 million gallons at UC Berkeley. The school publicly reports its sustainability metrics each year and has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014 (six year sooner than the rest of California). To meet this target the campus will complete over 200 energy efficiency projects. The university’s primary food service operator was the first in the country to receive organic certification, and organic salad bars are now a staple at campus dining facilities.
Curriculum: At UCSB, students have many opportunities to study sustainability through the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and the Academic Senate is currently working on a sustainability general education requirement for all undergraduates.
Campus: UCSB’s sustainability goals are ambitious: to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. Home to the most LEED-certified buildings in the UC system (six), all new construction at UCSB must meet LEED Silver standards. Through HVAC and lighting retrofits, delamping, and campaigns like “Flex Your Power,” the campus has decreased its electrical consumption by 31 percent and its natural gas consumption by 23 percent since 1998. UCSB’s Custodial Services department uses only Green Seal-certified products, and its Housing and Residential Services department heads an extensive waste reduction program that includes recycling used cooking oil for biofuel, composting food waste, and purchasing local and/or organic foods.
University of California–Santa Cruz
Curriculum: UCSC strives to integrate sustainability into every aspect of research and teaching. They offer degrees in Environmental Studies and they have a Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. A new, year-long sustainability internship program offers hands-on approach to sustainability.
Campus: The EPA ranks the UCSC campus among the top ten green power purchasing colleges, and faculty and students have won a number of awards for specific sustainability-focused projects and research. The campus boasts a 70 percent waste diversion rate and gets 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources. UCSC’s Sustainability Office is building a database of project ideas submitted by students, faculty, and staff to improve sustainable practices on campus.
University of Georgia (Athens, GA)
Curriculum: More than 100 members of the UGA faculty have joined together to create the Academy of the Environment, “a venue for cross-disciplinary collaboration in research, graduate and undergraduate training, and public education and outreach.” UGA is home to the Eugene Odum School of Ecology, and students and faculty from a variety of academic departments conduct research related to environmental issues—engineering students conduct energy audits on campus buildings, students in the College of Journalism and Mass Communication look for ways to promote energy conservation and recycling, and students in the River Basin Science and Policy Center research water quality in area streams.
Campus: The school has taken aggressive steps to conserve water on campus, such as installing rain gardens, planting native species, installing low-flow toilets and showerheads, recycling water in research labs, and even limiting flushes in stadium bathrooms during football games. The result of this “Every Drop Counts” campaign is that water use on campus is down 30 percent.
University of Maine (Orono, ME)
Curriculum: UM’s new student orientation includes sustainability programming, they offer degrees like a BS in Agriculture Food and Sustainability and have a Center for Rural Sustainable Development.
Campus: UM’s campus provides free bicycles to be used by faculty, staff, students, and even visitors not affiliated with the school. Old bikes are donated by members of the community, refurbished by student groups, and placed around campus. A free shuttle also takes students from campus to downtown Orono. UM has a full-time Sustainability Coordinator as well as a Sustainability Council made up of students, faculty and staff. Under their guidance, the university has made a commitment to avoid sprawl, restore local habitats, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Eco Reps in residence halls coordinate recycling programs and lead other environmental initiatives. UM recycles over 500 tons of paper products per year, and every office and classroom has at least one paper-recycling bin. All new buildings on campus must meet LEED Silver standards, and existing buildings are going green—two are already outfitted with residential-scale solar thermal systems.
Curriculum: The University of Maryland offers environmentally oriented majors and minors, living & learning programs and research. Graduate level sustainability studies at this school include, Environmental Science and Technology, Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology (CONS), Theatre (THET), Toxicology (TOXI).
Campus: The University of Maryland’s recycling rate increased from 17 percent in 2003 to an impressive 50 percent in 2008. The Career Center hosts an annual Green Jobs Fair to help students incorporate sustainability into their career plans. In October 2009, the university was named “America’s Greenest Campus” by Climate Culture for having the largest number of campus community members register to calculate their carbon footprint. A new University Sustainability Council is spearheading new green efforts on campus, including a commitment to LEED Silver standards for new buildings, energy-conserving renovations, a green roof, low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads in dorms, water- and energy-efficient dishwashers used by dining services, a composting program, discontinued use of styrofoam containers in favor of biodegradable ones, and use of water-conserving grass on the university’s golf course.
Warren Wilson College (Asheville, NC)
Curriculum: The college has six different concentrations and a new cross-disciplinary sustainability curriculum.
Campus: Warren Wilson College was one of the first in the country to institute on-campus recycling in the 1980s. Much of the food served by the school’s dining halls comes from an on-campus farm and garden. An Environmental Leadership Center provides sustainability-focused events and opportunities for both students and the local community, including a regular radio program broadcast on Asheville’s WPVM. Among the residence halls on campus is the LEED Platinum EcoDorm built by student teams with wood that was repurposed or sustainably harvested on campus. The dorm also features solar panel window awnings, compost toilets, a rainwater catchment system that helps irrigate the adjacent garden, and many other waste-minimizing features.
West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV)
Curriculum: This university is a national leader in energy research. Over the past four years, 100 faculty members have completed $98 million worth of energy-related research in everything from enhanced fuel cell production to textile recycling. WVU’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE) is working on new technology to reduce exhaust emissions and dependence on imported oil.
Campus: WVU’s trayless dining initiative has reduced waste in dining halls by 42 percent. Excess food is donated to charities, and used cooking oil is sent to a biodiesel processor. WVU promotes student involvement in campus sustainability through events like Ecolympics, a competition between residence halls to conserve the most energy and recycle the most waste. Last year, the two winning buildings reduced energy consumption by 20 percent and recycled more than 2500 pounds of waste.
Yale University (New Haven, CT)
Curriculum: Yale is conducting leading research on climate change and other environmental issues, and educating the environmental leaders of tomorrow in its college, graduate and professional schools. The Yale Sustainable Food Project directs a sustainable dining program, manages an organic farm and runs diverse educational programs. Several undergraduate organizations also seek to educate students in environmentally responsible practices.
Campus: Yale has a comprehensive campus sustainability plan in place, highlighted by a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas. Yale has implemented solar and wind projects to provide renewable energy. It also has its own co-generation power plant and is building another. Kroon Hall, the new home of its school of Forestry & Environmental Studies is a model of energy-saving design and is expected to earn a LEED Platinum certification.
Sierra’s Top 100 Cool Schools
Green Schools are Bridging the Knowledge Gap
Sustainable Education is Key to Accessing the Green Economy
Green Memes and Schools
NYC Public School’s Green Initiatives
West Michigan’s Green Academic Offerings
UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
Leading the Green Job Market with a Sustainable MBA
Commonground University’s Online Environmental Classes
CleanEdison’s Green Building Courses
Walden University’s PhD in Sustainability Online Degree
PhD in Innovation and Governance for Sustainable Development
Columbia University’s PhD in Sustainable Development
Prescott College`s PhD in Sustainability
UBC`s PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies
Top 10 College Environmental Programs (2009)
The Shining Stars of Green Schools (2009)
Green Schools are Cool (2009)
Sierra Magazine’s Green Schools (2009)
The Princeton Review Green Schools Honor Role (2009)
Back to School Environmental Tool Kit (2009)
Back to School (2008)