These Are The Most Eco-Friendly Schools in Each State

by Ryan Morris
Rankings - 3 years ago

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Most colleges these days have at least some kind of environmental awareness program built into their system, but there are some schools out there for whom environmentalism is a part of their very DNA.

For students at these schools, ecological awareness isn’t just a checkmark on a list of tax write-offs. It grounds their entire thinking and educational progression within their major, serving as a jumping off point into the environment’s impact on humans and (perhaps more importantly) our impact on it.

But what sets these colleges apart? Is it special building plans, robust “going green” initiatives, or just the college actually remembering to sort its trash from its recycling?

At Zippia, we were motivated to find out. So, using AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, we managed to put together our list of some of the most environmentally friendly schools in America.

The full list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.

  1. Stanford University
  2. Colorado State University
  3. University of Connecticut
  4. Arizona State University
  5. Sterling College
  6. University of Washington
  7. Appalachian State University
  8. Chatham University
  9. Colby College
  10. American University

How We Did It

The organization known as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE, keeps track of how well institutions of higher education are doing at keeping their campuses sustainable.

In particular, their Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (or STARS) is used to score individual schools based on a wide variety of factors, such as university-wide engagement, the physical operations of the campus itself (energy, dining, grounds, etc.), and innovation occurring on campus.

Over seven hundred schools in the US have reports in STARS, so we looked at the scores for each school and ranked them by state. Then we took the best school for every state, which got us our final list and map.

Does your company make the top ten? Read on to the full list to find out.

1. Stanford University

Location: Stanford, CA
STARS Score:
Company Description: The school with the most selective undergraduate program in America, Stanford is synonymous with innovation and creative thinking. The “Sustainable Stanford” initiative is the school’s name for its collective effort to keep its resource consumption down while providing creative, sustainable solutions to Stanford’s energy and resource needs.

2. Colorado State University

Location: Fort Collins, CO
STARS Score: 85.56
Company Description: CSU is a public university located in Fort Collins where over 30 thousand students currently reside in a wide variety of different programs and specializations. The school uses a “Supercluster” research model in order to partner with larger businesses and drive research in numerous fields, including campus sustainability. New dorms continue to be built on the campus according to green standards, and the campus wind farm helps power the school through sustainable wind energy.

3. University of Connecticut


Location: Storrs, CT
STARS Score: 81.3
Company Description: University of Connecticut was founded way back in 1881, but that hasn’t stopped this public university from becoming a major figure in the world of college campus sustainability. In particular, the campus’ PureCell System — a combustion-free energy producing fuel cell — is being used by the campus in order to help them lower their energy costs while also reducing their overall emissions.

4. Arizona State University

Location: Tempe, AZ
STARS Score: 81.11
Company Description: One of the largest public colleges in the US by its enrollment, Arizona State University is also one of the best schools in the US for its sustainability practices. ASU’s solar energy generation was the highest of any college back in 2014, and the college is also home to six wind turbines capable of powering around 3 dozen computers.

5. Sterling College


Location: Sterling, KS
STARS Score: 78.28
Company Description: The first private school to grace our list, Sterling College is a Christian university originally founded in the late 1800s. Environmentalism — or as they call it, environmental stewardship — is a matter of great concern at Sterling, and the school’s sustainability initiative permeates every aspect of its students’ learning process.

6. University of Washington


Location: Seattle, WA
STARS Score: 77.43
Company Description: University of Washington, or U-Dub, is a public university located in Seattle which has long put a strong focus on its sustainability policies. The school makes an effort to purchase local and organic foods for its Food Services program, all new residence halls are built to LEED standards, and the school’s composting program is augmented by the lack of styrofoam containers across the campus in favor of compostable materials.

7. Appalachian State University

Location: Boone, NC
STARS Score: 77.24
Company Description: The other major ASU, Appalachian State University is a big school crammed into a relatively small space. A public university located in the mountains of Western NC, App State has a huge number of sustainable development initiatives on its books including LEED-certified residence halls, a sustainable food program, and — most strikingly — a 100-kilowatt wind turbine that can be seen from most of the school’s campus.

8. Chatham University


Location: Pittsburgh, PA
STARS Score: 75.79
Company Description: A university located in Pittsburgh, PA, Chatham was originally founded as a women’s college and only began admitting men into certain programs as recently as 2014. Most notable about Chatham is the Falk School of Sustainability, a department of the university focused on researching and promoting sustainable programs and thought.

9. Colby College

Location: Waterville, ME
STARS Score: 75.65
Company Description: Originally founded in 1813, Colby College is a private liberal arts school that is consistently rated as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the US. It has a number of policies enacted through its campus sustainability program, such as renewable energy sources for all campus needs and LEED-certification for all new buildings, that have led to the school also becoming one of the best in the US for sustainability purposes.

10. American University

Location: Washington, DC
STARS Score: 75.35
Company Description: Another private university, American University is located in our nation’s capital and is made up of seven highly ranked educational departments. The campus sustainability program has made great strides in recent years through the elimination of some food waste along with a solar farm that provides the school with 50% of its energy.

Wrapping Up

You can find our extended list below with information for every state, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

Are you working on your resume right now? Find out the differences (if there are any) between how men and women write resumes.

Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out which cities in the state of Wisconsin are the most successful.

Institute Name City State Abbrev. Stars Score
Auburn University Auburn AL 53
University of Arkansas Fayetteville AR 64
Arizona State University Tempe AZ 81
Stanford University Stanford CA 85
Colorado State University Fort Collins CO 85
University of Connecticut Storrs CT 81
American University Washington DC 75
Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers FL 68
Emory University Atlanta GA 72
Iowa State University Ames IA 68
Loyola University Chicago Chicago IL 70
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame IN 68
University of Kansas Lawrence KS 51
University of Louisville Louisville KY 65
Tulane University New Orleans LA 56
Bentley University Waltham MA 72
Frostburg State University Frostburg MD 47
Colby College Waterville ME 75
University of Michigan Ann Arbor MI 70
University of Minnesota, Morris Morris MN 70
University of Missouri Columbia MO 65
University of Montana Missoula MT 41
Appalachian State University Boone NC 77
University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha NE 58
University of New Hampshire Durham NH 67
Princeton University Princeton NJ 58
New Mexico State University Las Cruces NM 66
University of Nevada Las Vegas Las Vegas NV 45
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse NY 73
Oberlin College Oberlin OH 73
Oklahoma State University Stillwater OK 46
Oregon State University Corvallis OR 72
Chatham University Pittsburgh PA 75
Bryant University Smithfield RI 51
Furman University Greenville SC 69
Black Hills State University Spearfish SD 48
Belmont University Nashville TN 69
Texas A&M University College Station TX 66
University of Utah Salt Lake City UT 58
Virginia Tech Blacksburg VA 71
Sterling College Craftsbury Common VT 78
University of Washington, Seattle Seattle WA 77
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Milwaukee WI 67
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