The Eco League
Students interested in a hands-on environmental education need look no further than the Eco League. The five liberal arts schools in this consortium--Alaska Pacific University, College of the Atlantic, Green Mountain College, Northland College, and Prescott College--approach nearly every course with a single goal for their 2,900 students: the active pursuit of environmental studies.
The Eco League schools pride themselves on integrating experiential learning into the curriculum--from for-credit backpacking trips to analyses of "leave no trace" ethics and how education can affect avalanche safety. That's why Sierra highlighted their efforts last year.
Checking in with the Eco Leaguers, we found that adventures and accolades haven't distracted them from reaching even higher. College of the Atlantic has started paying to offset all its greenhouse-gas emissions. Green Mountain College now gets more than half its electricity from generators powered by methane from dairy cow waste. And Northland College students voted to tax themselves $20 per semester to fund clean-energy projects. ecoleague.org—Lea Hartog
The University of California
Also in a league of their own are the ten University of California campuses. With 220,000 students and 170,000 faculty and staff, the UC system has the ecological footprint of a large city. Efforts to reduce that footprint one campus at a time mean the system now leads the higher-ed pack in making big green changes.
At UC Berkeley, for example, campus dining options are 65 percent vegetarian, reducing the use of resource-intensive meat-based meals. (Pound for pound, more energy, water, and land go into producing
meat than vegetables.) Harvests from UC Davis olive trees that once left oil slicks on bike paths have been put to better use in a line of award-winning olive oils.
Meanwhile, UC Santa Cruz has offset 100 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions since last fall, and four of UCLA's high-rise dorms now have solar-powered water heaters. Farther south, UC San Diego generates 7.4 megawatts of its electricity (10 to 15 percent of its total energy) using renewable sources including methane-powered fuel cells, solar, and wind. universityofcalifornia.edu—Michael Fox