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.