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Campuses Scramble to Go Green–Sustainability Report Cards Rate Them

College sustainability report cards are coming out faster than we can report on them, with rankings from the Princeton Review, the Sierra Club, and now Green Report Card. They all aim to guide future college students in their quests to choose green campuses.

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College sustainability report cards are coming out faster than we can report on them, with rankings from the Princeton Review, the Sierra Club, and now Green Report Card. They all aim to guide future college students in their quests to choose green campuses. The latest list from Green Report Card, The College Sustainability Report Card, is perhaps the most heartening yet, giving 53% of schools in the U.S. and Canada (176 out of 332 universities) a grade of B- or better. The Sierra Club rankings only gave 56 schools a B-, albeit out of an overall sample of 135 universities. And the Princeton Review ranked 697 institutions and put 15 on the “honor roll”–with scores of 99 in a scale of 60 to 99.

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Green Report Card evaluated universities in nine categories: Administration, Climate Change and Energy, Food and Recycling, Green Building, Student Involvement, Transportation, Endowment Transparency, Investment Priorities, and Shareholder Engagement. Instead of ranking schools in numerical order, the Green Report Card designates 26 schools as “Overall College Sustainability Leaders”–notable names such as Stanford, Amherst College, Yale, Wesleyan, and Harvard find their way onto the list. The 26 sustainability leaders don’t, however, include some of the Sierra Club’s top 10–Evergreen College, University of California Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, and UCLA. The Princeton Review’s top 15 overlap with both: Evergreen, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Yale make the list, as well as Georgia Tech, Arizona State/Tempe, and SUNY Binghamton, among others.

Green Report Card’s research reveals that most schools are investing heavily in green initiatives despite an overall decline in endowments. Two-thirds of all schools surveyed have full-time staff devoted to sustainability efforts, 40% buy at least some renewable energy, and 45% have on site solar, wind, or geothermal facilities. And only 78 schools received a grade of “F”–an impressive figure considering that most universities didn’t give sustainability a second thought as recently as 10 years ago.

Will universities up their green efforts just to get a better ranking on the Green Report Card list? Probably not, but the comprehensive list, which features more in-depth evaluations than either the Princeton Review or Sierra Club rankings, is almost certainly the best resource for sustainability-minded students.

[Green Report Card]

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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