Q: How did you decide which schools were included?
A: Participation in Sierra magazine's Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. This year, campus administrators could participate by going to stars.aashe.org and completing an extensive questionnaire about their school's sustainability practices. Schools that submitted complete, updated data by our March 22, 2016 deadline are represented in the 2016 rankings. 

Q: How many schools participated?
A: Sierra received 202 complete responses from qualified colleges—a record response rate.  

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: Our scoring system reflects the broader priorities of the Sierra Club. For example, we award a significant percentage of points in the areas of campus energy use, transportation, and fossil fuel divestment because the Sierra Club believes that progress in these sectors is essential for addressing the climate crisis. Click here to read about our methodology and here to see our scoring key. 

Q: Why do you rank schools on sustainability?
A: We hope that our annual ranking can serve as a guide for prospective students, current students, administrators, and alumni to compare colleges’ commitments to environmentalism. It also serves to spur healthy competition among schools, raise environmental standards on campus, and publicly reward the institutions that work hard to protect the planet