Four That Almost Made the Cut

Carleton College
1,986 students; Northfield, Minnesota

Where many might have viewed the Minnesota prairie’s wild winds as a nuisance, Carleton College saw an opportunity--and constructed its own wind turbine. The turbine’s output varies depending on wind speed; one day last April, it powered the entire campus. Carleton also composts all the food waste from its dining halls and hires sustainability assistants to help students in the dorms lead ecofriendly lifestyles.

California State University at Chico
17,034 students; Chico, California

Nestled in a small town 90 miles north of Sacramento, Chico State boasts some of the nation’s most impressive environmental-education courses. The university currently offers over 100 green classes, ranging from plant biology to urban-transportation-system planning. When they’re not hitting the books, Wildcats work at the college’s organic farm and dairy, watch green movies at the Ch-Eco film festival, and restore the creek that runs through campus.

Unity College
500 students; Unity, Maine

Similar in spirit to the colleges in the Eco League, Unity College features an environmentally driven curriculum and sends many graduates off to government agencies such as the Forest Service, National Park Service, and Environmental Protection Agency. Not only does it source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy, but it has also reduced its per-capita carbon emissions 28 percent since 2001.

Yale University
13,128 students; New Haven, Connecticut

Yale created its Office of Sustainability only three years ago, but since then its accomplishments have outshone most other schools’ ecological efforts. The Bulldogs set significant targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions (10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020), instituted a LEED silver green-building standard for all new building construction, and started the Yale Sustainable Food Project, which draws on the expertise of famed chef Alice Waters.

—Michael Fox and Lea Hartog