The Top 100 Cool Schools

Our fourth annual list of America's greenest campuses

September 26, 2010

Cool Schools 2010: The Top 100 Schools

Sierra magazine's "Coolest Schools" list has been updated since it was originally posted on August 16, 2010. Due to in-house mathematical errors, some schools were erroneously scored on the original list. The most significant adjustments apply to St. Olaf College (now number 79), Kalamazoo College (now number 112), University of Texas at Arlington (now number 151), Sewanee: The University of the South (now number 82), Penn State University (now number 80), and Furman University (now number 40). Twelve other schools had minor adjustments to their scores.

one Green Mountain College
Poultney, VT | Score: 88.6
GMC is the MVP when it comes to creativity. The campus gets power from biomass and biogas (a.k.a. cow power) and plans to be carbon-neutral by next year.

two Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA | Score: 86.1
Dickinson integrates sustainability studies across its curricula, maintains a high-efficiency energy plant, and runs a hands-on biodiesel shop.

three Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA | Score: 85.9
The student body's self-imposed clean-energy fee enables Evergreen to purchase renewable-energy credits for 100 percent of its electricity.

four University of Washington
Seattle, WA | Score: 84.7
UW's solutions-oriented Environmental Innovation Challenge, which teams students from disparate departments, represents interdisciplinary eco-thinking.

five Stanford University
Stanford, CA | Score: 84.6
Stanford's $225 million Global Climate and Energy Project focuses on diverse cutting-edge technologies to help lower carbon dioxide emissions.

six University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA | Score: 84.4
Incentives for alternative transportation minimize car commuting to UCI, even though it's in SUV-obsessed Orange County.

seven Northland College
Ashland, WI | Score: 83.2
Northland's 12-year-old, pre-LEED McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center has composting toilets, low-flow water fixtures, solar panels, and a wind turbine.

eight Harvard University
Cambridge, MA | Score: 82.8
America's oldest college invests in the future with a revolving fund that loans money for recycling and solar projects. Payback comes in the form of efficiency savings.

nine College of the Atlantic
Bar Harbor, ME | Score: 82.5
A sustainable-business curriculum and an affiliated "venture incubator" encourage eco-entrepreneurs.

ten Hampshire College
Amherst, MA | Score: 82.4
Hampshire's responsible-investing committee, one of the oldest in the country, aims to make the school's endowment benefit the environment.

  1. University of California, Santa Cruz
    Santa Cruz, CA | Score: 82 | The UCSC Banana Slugs have an impressive 73 percent waste-diversion rate and plan to reach 100 percent by 2020.
  2. Middlebury College
    Middlebury, VT | Score: 82 | A team of ambitious undergrads made the finals of the prestigious, tech-heavy 2011 Solar Decathlon, a notable feat for a small liberal-arts school.
  3. University of Colorado, Boulder
    Boulder, CO | Score: 81.9 | A national environmental leader, CU Boulder is the home of the influential Center of the American West, a think tank that addresses Western land and energy issues.
  4. Warren Wilson College
    Asheville, NC | Score: 81.8 | Warren Wilson gets more than a third of its food from farms within 500 miles of campus--including from its own six-acre organic garden.
  5. University of California, San Diego
    San Diego, CA | Score: 81.6 | UCSD's dining halls offer "Meatless Mondays" to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. No matter what day it is, 35 percent of the school's cafeteria food is organic.
  6. University of California, Davis
    Davis, CA | Score: 81.2 | Davis students can learn ecologically viable farming methods by majoring in sustainable agriculture and food systems.
  7. University of Vermont
    Burlington, VT | Score: 81.2 | Over the past decade, UVM has cut its number of car commuters by half, thanks to incentives for students who use alternative transportation.
  8. Georgia Institute of Technology
    Atlanta, GA | Score: 81 | Georgia Tech has a full-time alternative-transportation manager and is constructing a million-gallon cistern to reduce its stormwater runoff by 30 percent.
  9. University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA | Score: 80.7 | By awarding grants to faculty and students for innovative sustainability proposals, Penn spurs competition to help execute its climate action plan.
  10. New York University
    New York, NY | Score: 80.6 | NYU plans to install a 6,500-square-foot green roof atop its 11-story Stern School of Business, in Greenwich Village.

The Rest of the Best

  1. Cornell University
  2. Colorado College
  3. Pomona College
  4. Oberlin College
  5. Oregon State University
  6. Portland State University
  7. University of California, Los Angeles
  8. Yale University
  9. Princeton University
  10. Smith College
  11. University of California, Berkeley
  12. University of New Hampshire
  13. Arizona State University
  14. Marlboro College
  15. University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
  16. Brown University
  17. Macalester College
  18. University of California, Merced
  19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  20. Furman University
  21. Colorado State University
  22. Emory University
  23. Washington University in St. Louis
  24. University of California, Santa Barbara
  25. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  26. Bowdoin College
  27. University of Michigan