Frequently Asked Questions

July 31, 2014

Cool Schools Home | Slideshow: The Top 10 | The Complete Ranking | Scoring Key | Methodology | FAQ

Q: How did you decide which schools were included?
A: Participation in Sierra magazine's "Cool Schools" ranking is a voluntary opt-in process that is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. This year, campus administrators could participate by going to and completing an extensive questionnaire about their school's sustainability practices. Schools that submitted complete, updated data by our deadline were eligible to be considered for the 2014 rankings.

Q: How many schools participated?
A: Sierra received 173 complete responses from qualified colleges.

Q: Did schools have to pay to participate? 
A: There is no cost for participation.

Q: My school isn't listed. How can I encourage it to participate next year?
A: Contact your school's sustainability coordinator or public relations office and ask them to participate.

Q: How were schools scored? Can you describe your methodology?
A: Yes. Click here.

Q: Why do you rank schools on greenness?
A: We hope that our annual ranking will act as a guide for prospective students who want to compare colleges based on the schools' commitment to environmentalism. Our ranking also serves to spur productive competition between colleges, create aspirational standards, and publicly reward the institutions that work hard to protect the planet.