Higher, Greener Education–The Top 5 “Green” Colleges in America

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In 2005, an organization was established to measure and coordinate the conservation and sustainability efforts of colleges and universities across the United States.  The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) uses a system for gauging sustainability efforts called the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).  If you or someone you know is looking to go down that exciting path of higher education, but wants to make sure they’re looking at ECO-savvy schools, the following list might help with the decision.

  1. COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY – FORT COLLINS, CO

colorado state

At 85.29 STARS, Colorado State University is the greenest school in the country.  CSU is home to the very first solar-heated/air-conditioned building on a college campus.  The university takes its conservation education serious as well, and offers over 1,400 credit hours in ecosystem science, sustainability, alternative fuels and conservation.

2.  GREEN MOUNTAIN COLLEGE – POULTNEY, VT

green mountain college

Green Mountain College earned 76.92 STARS.  This quaint university had less than 1,000 students enrolled in 2013, and offers students a plethora of eco-friendly amenities, including a farm, hiking trails and a swimming hole located on the Poultney River.  Green Mountain was also the first U.S. college to realize complete climate neutrality, and boasts an onsite biomass plant that generates 85% of the campus’s heat and hot water.

  1. COLBY COLLEGE – WATERVILLE, ME

colby college

At 75.65 STARS, Colby College is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the U.S.  Students can study everything from oceanography to forestry in Ethiopia and water quality in local lakes.  In 2015, 90% of the college’s food waste was recycled, reused or composted.  Rounding out Colby’s attractiveness to prospective students is the fact that most of the campus is a Maine wildlife management area.

  1. STANFORD UNIVERSITY – STANFORD, CA

stanford university

California’s Stanford University earned a STAR rating of 74.63 last year.  The university offers more than 30 “green” clubs to students majoring in any subject and almost 50% of the food served on campus is either organic or locally sourced.  Stanford University rounds out its efforts by recycling or composting 65% of the solid waste produced on campus.

  1. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN – OSHKOSH, WI

university of wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin has a STAR rating of 72.92 and is home to the Environmental Research Innovation Center.  The ERIC specializes in the study of renewable energy and environmental science.  Solar panels and green transportation options for students and faculty round out the college’s conservation efforts.


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