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.
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.
Location: Stanford, CA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can find our extended list below with information for every state, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.
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|Institute Name||State Abbrev.||Stars Score|
|University of Arkansas||AR||64|
|Arizona State University||AZ||81|
|Colorado State University||CO||85|
|University of Connecticut||CT||81|
|Florida Gulf Coast University||FL||68|
|Iowa State University||IA||68|
|Loyola University Chicago||IL||70|
|University of Notre Dame||IN||68|
|University of Kansas||KS||51|
|University of Louisville||KY||65|
|Frostburg State University||MD||47|
|University of Michigan||MI||70|
|University of Minnesota, Morris||MN||70|
|University of Missouri||MO||65|
|University of Montana||MT||41|
|Appalachian State University||NC||77|
|University of Nebraska at Omaha||NE||58|
|University of New Hampshire||NH||67|
|New Mexico State University||NM||66|
|University of Nevada Las Vegas||NV||45|
|State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry||NY||73|
|Oklahoma State University||OK||46|
|Oregon State University||OR||72|
|Black Hills State University||SD||48|
|Texas A&M University||TX||66|
|University of Utah||UT||58|
|University of Washington, Seattle||WA||77|
|University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee||WI||67|