The Top 10 Greenest U.S Universities

If you asked high school seniors 15 years ago whether sustainability mattered in their college decision-making process, few would answer in the affirmative. But as green-ness and sustainability continue to seep into the public consciousness, more and more prospective college students want to know what their future alma maters are doing to save the planet. Hence the recent crop of sustainability rankings from The Princeton Review, GreenReportCard, and the Sierra Club. This past May, Fast Company also took a look at the hottest schools for environmental studies. Granted, our rankings looked only at the academic side of schools, while the others are more focused on the overall picture of sustainability. And while the Princeton Review and GreenReportCard seem to favor more "elite" colleges like Yale, Stanford, and Brown, the Sierra Club gives top honors to a crop of mainly public (read: affordable) universities.

The Sierra Club's rankings are based on a number of factors, including efficiency, energy, food, transportation, and waste management. UCLA, for example, earned top honors thanks to its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and its vast waste management efforts. Other schools were chastised by the organization for their lack of eco efforts. DePaul University has failed to complete a greenhouse gas emissions audit of its campus, while Texas Tech offers exactly zero sustainability initiatives. Fortunately, there are a wide range of green-minded colleges to choose from. Below, we reveal the Sierra Club's picks for the 10 most eco-enlightened U.S. universities.

sierra club

[Sierra Club]

Add New Comment


  • Amanda Benson

    I had never really thought before about considering how green a college was before applying, but now I have read this article it has really made me think about how these factors are actually quite important. Transportation is quite an important factor. I have seen colleges with bus services for people who live only locally, when really they could be walking. They should be encouraging more people to walk or cycle, not just take the easy option of jumping on a bus. When it comes to food, I would much rather eat from a cafeteria that sells food from local farmers than food that has done many miles.

    VeoliaES Waste Management

  • Sophie Wolfram

    This article's suggestion that the College Sustainability Report Card favors elite colleges and universities is misguided. Both the University of Washington and the University of Colorado at Boulder received A- grades on the College Sustainability Report Card 2009. Among the College Sustainability Report Card's "Campus Sustainability Leaders" in the 2009 report card were over 15 public universities.