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Top 6 Sustainable Colleges in the U.S.

Though our president thinks that snow in October is not how global warming works, denies the whole concept and blames China for it, we know that the climate change is here and sustainable living is one of the things that can save us all from dying of extreme temperatures too soon.

It can be hard to stay eco-friendly on campus, even if you are dedicated to a sustainable lifestyle.  So choosing a college which supports sustainability, implements ecology programs, attempts to decrease electricity dependence trying to achieve reduction of its carbon footprint can be crucial. And for those who are not that experienced in the issue, green college is a good start to get involved in the problem.

Here is a list of the most sustainable colleges in the U.S.

Stanford University

Stanford is truly dedicated to sustainability and has quite persuasive goals - decrease carbon emissions by 68%, reduce potable water usage by 15% and get to the 75% waste-diversion rate by 2020. All university’s energy is generated at its new power-plant, which burns natural gas to produce electricity and uses the waste heat to generate steam and chilled water for campus heating and cooling. Stanford uses recycled water from its reclaimed water-plant for toilet flushing in several buildings. 65% of solid waste on campus is recycled or composted. University comprises over 20 student clubs and 500 courses on sustainability. Nearly 47% of the food served in Stanford is organic or local.  

University of Connecticut

The Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) brings faculty, staff, and students of the University of Connecticut together to work on environmental responsibility and sustainable campus. 23 UCONN buildings are LEED Certified or Registered. OEP collaborates closely with student organization EcoHusky Student Group, which organizes environmentally-oriented projects and events. In 2016 UCONN  received GreenCircle Sustainability Award recognizing university’s efforts and progress in reducing energy and climate change, water usage, improving recycling.

Colorado State University

Colorado is the greenest campus in the U.S. They were first to have solar-heated/air-conditioned on-campus building, worked with NASA on the CloudStat development - a cloud-profiling radar system which monitors climate change providing excessive material for scientific research. Colorado State University is the first school in the world to gain Platinum in the STARS rating system. University is all about sustainability: 962 of 2,633 courses are sustainability-related, there are sustainability-oriented interdisciplinary minors for undergraduate students, research on sustainability is encouraged through grants and fellowships, etc.

University of Washington

University of Washington campuses serve as a living laboratory for sustainability-related projects, and the Campus Sustainability Fund provides grants for their development. Among such projects are green walls at the College of Built Environments, the North Creek Wetlands, Sustainable Stormwater. On the university’s website, any user can check Sustainability Dashboard, where all the data and metrics on the school’s progress are available (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, electricity consumption, water usage). University has 44 student environment and sustainability-oriented organizations and groups and offers 750 related or focused sustainability courses.     

Sterling College

Sterling College is an environmentally-focused 4-year college with a vast variety of sustainability courses in the curriculum. In 2016 Sterling installed 11 new solar trackers, so it will produce more than 80% of its energy through solar power. 100% of Sterling’s students have a job on campus, and most of them work at the student-run farm. This farm produces 20% of all the food served on campus. Most of the work on the farm, gardens and fields is done with draft horses and people. There are no vending machines on the campus, disposable dishes or utensils are not used, nontoxic, biodegradable cleaning products are stocked.

Appalachian State University

University promotes the 3E’s approach - stewardship, economic responsibility and social equity. The Office of Sustainability encourages collaborative effort in creating a more sustainable campus. Appalachian State University offers over 20 sustainability focused or related degree programs. The ASURE - university’s renewable energy initiative, a committee of students and faculty aims to allocate money towards renewable energy projects on campus.


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