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Sierra magazine
Cool Schools: The Third Annual List

See Sierra's Cool Schools for 2010.

Sierra Magazine's College Rankings: A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Eco-Enlightened U.S. Universities

Only on the web! Get the complete college rankings for the third annual Cool Schools list, then listen to Avital Binshtock, Sierra magazine's lifestyle editor, on Sierra Club Radio discussing how and why we ranked the schools.

Back in the day, high schoolers looking at colleges (and U.S. News and World Report) were mainly concerned with three things: prestige, location, and whether the place had a rockin' social life. These days, however, applicants look for something more: a school with green credentials.

"Ten years ago, I don't remember any student asking me about green campuses," says Steven Roy Goodman, a college admissions strategist at TopColleges.com. "Now it's quite common for students to be keenly interested in how environmentally responsible colleges are."

Today, two-thirds of university applicants say that a school's environmental report card would influence whether they'd enroll, according to a survey by the Princeton Review, a test-prep company.

Elite schools competing for the best and brightest have taken the cue. Harvard University leads the pack in energy efficiency, Yale University revolutionized its food operations, and the University of California at Los Angeles revamped its waste management.

Get the top 20 or the full list of 135 schools.

For Sierra's third annual ranking of planet-preserving colleges and universities, we e-mailed a lengthy questionnaire to sustainability experts at hundreds of schools. The survey covered eight categories: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, and administration. Schools could earn up to ten points in each category, and up to five bonus points if they had additional green initiatives. See the final rankings, calibrated to create an out-of-100 rating system.

Rather than focus on one or two issues such as energy conservation and investment choices, we sought a comprehensive overview of each campus's sustainability efforts. Weigh in on our coverage below, and possibly influence next year's list.—Avital Binshtock and Michael Fox

To discuss and debate our coverage, and possibly influence next year's list, go to the Cool Schools page on the Sierra Student Coalition's Web site.

Cool Schools 2008 | Cool Schools 2007

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