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The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) was established in 2005 to "help coordinate and strengthen campus sustainability efforts at regional and national levels, and to serve as the first North American professional association for those interested in advancing campus sustainability." Today, the AASHE also recognizes colleges and universities that have achieved the greatest level of success with green initiatives on-campus and within in their surrounding communities. The association gauges these efforts using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a voluntary system that allows different colleges and universities to report trends and track their sustainability efforts. Four different STARS ratings ― platinum, gold, silver, and bronze ― may be awarded to various establishments, companies, and organizations across the country.

This list from BestColleges.org names the 50 U.S. colleges and universities that have earned the highest STARS ratings, thereby distinguishing themselves as the nation's greenest schools. Our goal with this list is to spotlight the schools that have launched the most impactful initiatives to reduce on-campus waste and energy consumption, promote alternative transportation, provide funding to student and faculty-led green proposals, and take other measures to benefit the environment. AASHE does not rank institutions but recognizes that STARS data may contribute to rankings done by other organizations. These rankings, as well as the methodology for evaluating and scoring, are not endorsed by AASHE.

  1. Rank School Location Tuition +
  2. Rank
    1
    School

    Colorado State University

    Location
    Fort Collins, CO
    Tuition
    $9,313 in state;
    $25,166 out of state

    Websites

    Address

    102 Administration Building
    Fort Collins, CO 80523-0100
    (970) 491-1101

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 85.29

    Colorado State University is the greenest higher-learning institution in the United States. As the first U.S. school to ever earn LEED certification, Colorado State leads the nation in sustainability best practices. This green campus is home to the first solar-heated/air-conditioned on-campus building. The college worked with NASA to develop a cloud-profiling radar system, CloudStat, which monitors climate change and provides CSU students with incredible research opportunities concerning its own energy usages.

    Situated in northern Colorado, this sustainable campus along the western edge of the Great Plains sits at the base of the breath-taking Rocky Mountains. Residents find that this campus provides easy access to skiing, rafting and other outdoor sports in this scenic location.

    The campus offers programs in ecosystem science, sustainability, alternative fuels, conservation and many more. In 2014, the college launched a master’s program in Masters of Greenhouse Gas Management and Accounting; this is one of several graduate degrees with an environmental focus. Students can participate in numerous volunteer and outreach opportunities to improve their community at CSU. This outreach can be as simple as electing to use the green energy offered by the campus to power their learning and living spaces.

    Quick Facts

    • In keeping with the college’s emphasis on resource management, there are over 325 desktop PCs, more than 200 laptop computers (Macs and Windows), iPads, Chromebooks, video cameras and specialized calculators are available for checkout at this campus.
    • CSU earned the first ever platinum star ever awarded by STARS in 2015, making it the first institution to do so on an international scale.
    • Online and on-campus, the university offers 962 credit courses with a sustainability focus and an additional 532 non-credit continuing education courses, making theirs the most robust offering at a single university.
  3. Rank
    2
    School

    Green Mountain College

    Location
    Poultney, VT
    Tuition
    $32,192 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    One Brennan Circle
    Poultney, VT 05764-1199
    (802) 287-8000

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 76.92

    Located in the lakes region of southern Vermont, this liberal-arts college prides itself on the role environmental sustainability plays across the curriculum. The campus is flanked by the Adirondack Mountains to the west and the Green Mountains to the east and is situated on 155-acres. Students will find a farm, hiking trails, and even a swimming hole located on the Poultney River on site at this intimate college. Class sizes are small at this college, where approximately 850 students enrolled in 2013. For this reason, the average student-teacher ratio at Green Mountain 14:1.

    Students are required to enroll in a 37-credit environment-focused curriculum at GMC. All of these courses focus on the environment, climate change and sustainability, and are taught in LEED-certified classrooms. Some of the degree programs that students can choose from at this green campus include undergraduate degrees in Adventure Education, Wilderness and Outdoor Therapy and a self-designed interdisciplinary program.

    Quick Facts

    • Green Mountain College is among the first U.S. universities to realize complete climate neutrality and is recognized by the Princeton Review as the second greenest school in the country.
    • Students visit local farms to learn about the methane-generating process; this is because, since 2006, GMC has also harvested 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year from cows.
    • The campus’ climate control and much of the electricity in its buildings are powered using a $5.8 million biomass plant on site, which burns locally sourced woodchips for fuel.
  4. Rank
    3
    School

    Colby College

    Location
    Waterville, ME
    Tuition
    $45,760 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    4000 Mayflower Hill Drive
    Waterville, ME 04901-8840
    (207) 859-4000

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 75.65

    Colby College, one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the U.S., is located three hours north of Boston. Van service is offered for students to encourage biking and walking on site, and the eastward seacoast and westward mountains are a mere hour away. On-campus, students will find an arboretum, spectacular views of Waterville and the Kennebec River Valley, a focus on sustainable farm-to-table dining, an organic garden and running trails.

    Another college to earn total carbon neutrality, the influence of conservation and sustainability best practices can be seen across the curriculum in a variety of disciplines. The Environmental Studies program is recognized nationally, and places a notable focus on field research opportunities and experiential learning. It is one of the oldest in the country, and its curriculum serves as a model for others like it.

    Colby College has been recognized by the Princeton Review, the Sierra Club, Fiske and many more for its outstanding environmental studies program.

    Quick Facts

    • Colby College is a tobacco-free campus.
    • 98% of undergraduate alumni are either working in their field or enrolled in graduate studies following the conclusion of their bachelor degree program at CC.
    • The student-teacher ratio at Colby is only 10:1, and the campus boasts an impressive 93% first-year retention rate.
  5. Rank
    4
    School

    Stanford University

    Location
    Stanford, CA
    Tuition
    $43,683 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    Stanford, CA 94305
    (650) 723-2300

    Accreditation

    WASC/SCUC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 74.63

    Since it began working towards a zero-waste campus, Stanford has collected more than $430 million to invest in its green initiatives. The college seeks to make sustainable living a part of the Stanford experience. The Stanford Energy Systems Innovation Program aims to reduce carbon emissions by 50%, for example, and cut potable water usage by 18% in the coming years. The waste-diversion rate at Stanford is rising steadily, and the college's goal is zero waste by 2020.

    The college boasts more than three dozen "green" clubs, which are open to students in any major, that offer a chance to make an impact on sustainability at Stanford and beyond. The Stanford Gleaning Project, for example, harvests fruit and organic vegetables that are then donated to local hunger-relief organizations.

    Stanford is situated midway between San Francisco and San Jose, the region known for its affiliation to nearby Yahoo!, Google, Hewlett-Packard and many other cutting-edge companies. The Santa Cruz Mountains and Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay ensconce the campus, which means the beach, hiking and paddle-boarding are also easily accessible.

    Quick Facts

    • The student-teacher ratio at Stanford is only 4:1.
    • Roughly 40% the food served through Stanford’s 30 dining hall offerings are either organic or locally sourced; in addition, 62% of solid waste produced on this campus is recycled or composted.
    • The college offers more than 700 courses on sustainability as it pertains to more than 40 different departments and disciplines.
  6. Rank
    5
    School

    University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

    Location
    Oshkosh, WI
    Tuition
    $7,401 in state;
    $14,974 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    800 Algoma Blvd
    Oshkosh, WI 54901
    (920) 424-1234

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 72.92

    Sustainable Oshkosh is home to the branch of the University of Wisconsin responsible for the Environmental Research Innovation Center (ERIC). Here, scientists perform testing on local water samples, develop renewable energy sources and work with UW-Oshkosh faculty to expand degree programs in fields like environmental science, natural resource protection and sustainability.

    As the campus grows, so do its environmentally-sound building practices. Solar panels and roofs, ground source geothermal climate control tech, bioswales and green transportation accommodations are only a few of the ways Oshkosh is neutralizing its carbon footprint.

    Academically, students at Oshkosh can immerse themselves in environmental studies, a minor in social justice, a sustainability management minor or a sustainability management master's.

    Quick Facts

    • Not an environmental science major but still want a chance to get involved? Oshkosh offers many sustainability-themed faculty-led trips abroad.
    • The conservation group Monarch Watch has designate UW-Oshkosh as a "monarch way station"; the college hopes to support a struggling monarch butterfly population by planting butterfly-friendly landscaping.
    • Oshkosh is situated along the Fox River, within walking distance from downtown shopping and entertainment and roughly three hours outside of Chicago.
  7. Rank
    6
    School

    Middlebury College

    Location
    Middlebury, VT
    Tuition
    $45,314 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    Old Chapel
    Middlebury, VT 05753
    (802) 443-5000

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 72.61

    It may be an ambitious goal, but Middlebury aims to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2016. Through energy conservation efforts, exploring renewable fuel sources and ongoing education about green and sustainable advancements, this Vermont college is well on its way.

    Compost and recycling efforts have diverted more than 60% of the waste at this Champlain Valley institution, and all construction on new buildings must be LEED certified. Whole buildings have been recycled in an effort to reduce and reuse at Middlebury, and sustainable tech such as groundwater exchange air-conditioning, low-flow faucets and toilets and solar panels are just some of the ways Middlebury is maintaining a commitment to sustainability.

    Middlebury is a relatively small town located in the beautiful Champlain Valley, which rests between the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks. One of the highlights for ski and snowboarding aficionados is the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, where there are 17 trails. The college’s proximity to the lush mountains and valleys of Vermont makes it a perfect observatory for stewards of the planet to gain experiential learning in the field.

    Quick Facts

    • All freshmen at Middlebury are asked to spend their first year on-campus in one of five commons, where they will have access to more than 150 clubs and activities.
    • Retention rates at Middlebury in 2013 were 95% for first-year undergraduates, and the college reports a 94% graduation rate during that same time frame.
  8. Rank
    7
    School

    University of Colorado-Boulder

    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Tuition
    $10,347 in state;
    $32,115 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
    Colorado Springs, CO 80918
    (719) 255-3000

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 72.45

    CU Boulder leads the vanguard in eco-friendly institutions. This is largely due to the school's CU Environmental Center, which, founded in 1970 as the Eco-Center, remains the nation's largest on-campus and student-led environmental organization. The center's initiatives cover the breadth of environmental responsibilities, including doggedly monitoring the school's carbon emissions, campaigning for zero on-campus waste, green transportation (including carpool systems for commuters) and pushing for campus-wide environmental policies to be enacted.

    While the center is certainly the major selling point of the school's green-living efforts, the ethics of environmentalism are well represented in its academics. Majors that emphasize environmental education include Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and, of course, Environmental Studies, to name just a few.

    Quick Facts

    • CU Boulder has consecutively been ranked as one of the greenest schools in the U.S. by the Sierra Club.
    • The school's One Million Acts of Green platform is an ongoing school wide project where students and faculty can record the steps they've taken to be more eco-friendly in their own lives. People's contributions are aggregated, analyzed and then used to promote green ideas throughout Boulder and beyond.
    • In 2012, all student government building at CU Boulder achieved carbon neutrality.
  9. Rank
    8
    School

    Emory University

    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Tuition
    $44,008 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    408 Administration Building, 201 Dowman Drive
    Atlanta, GA 30322
    (404) 727-6123

    Accreditation

    SACS/CC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 72.34

    More than 175 species of wildlife call Emory University home. The college’s 700-acre 'Green Space' spans more than half of the campus and is a protected area for students and faculty to help realize sustainability initiatives. Emory leads the nation in its construction of LEED-certified buildings, as well. Such efforts have earned the college consistent recognition for their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

    The campus has also earned accolades for its robust offerings in the way of academics in the study of environmental science. Professors at Emory work sustainable science into many degree programs, and Emory students have studied under the Dalai Lama, Salman Rushdie and activist Desmond Tutu. Courses like environmental journalism and theology as social protest demonstrate the breadth of scholarly offerings at EU in the way of sustainability.

    This green college is located in a suburb near downtown Atlanta. Not far from the Chattahoochee River National Area, students at Emory are in a prime location to explore research opportunities close to campus.

    Quick Facts

    • The student-teacher ratio at Emory is 14:1. The graduation rate at this college in 2013 was 90% for undergraduates, and the first-year retention rate was 94%.
    • Emory has been recognized by the Princeton Review, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and the Washington Post for its outstanding commitment to sustainability.
    • First- and second-year students are required to live on campus at EU; many go on to reside at Emory for the duration of their four-year degree program.
  10. Rank
    9
    School

    University of California – Santa Barbara

    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Tuition
    $13,746 in state;
    $36,624 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    5221 Cheadle Hall
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    (805) 893-8000

    Accreditation

    WASC/SCUC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 71.02

    Situated atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara’s mild winters and warm, dry summers offer fantastic opportunities to explore the land and ocean around the campus. Students at UC enjoy outdoor activities like surfing, hiking, kayaking and camping are popular off-campus. On-site, students appreciate the state-of-the-art fitness facilities, which are equipped with climbing walls, group fitness classes and outdoor pools.

    The university is committed to protecting its beautiful campus, as well as the ecosystems it depends upon to thrive. The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) at UCSB funds conservation projects and advocacy programs sponsored by the college, and UCSB’s Coastal Fund also sponsors the preservation and restoration of local marine habitats. 44 of the buildings at Santa Barbara are LEED certified, and photovoltaic solar panels have helped the college cut their electrical usage by one-third. What’s more, over 200 faculty members at UCSB take part in eco-research in an effort to lead the way in sustainability education and breakthroughs.

    Quick Facts

    • 47% of academic departments offer some sort of sustainability focus in their curriculum, for a total of 321 "green" classes.
    • 94% of students at UCSB bike, walk or take the bus to campus, which offers 10,000 bike parking spaces and 10 miles of bike paths.
    • While UCSB offers many interdisciplinary options for environmental studies, the campus offers two primary degree programs in this discipline: a master’s and PhD in environmental science & management.
  11. Rank
    10
    School

    Oregon State University

    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Tuition
    $8,322 in state;
    $23,514 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1500 S.W. Jefferson
    Corvallis, OR 97331
    (541) 737-0123

    Accreditation

    NCCU

    School Description

    STARS Score: 70.94

    An hour from the Pacific coast and roughly 90 minutes from Portland, Oregon State University, is the largest, and certainly the greenest, research university in the state. Marine science, sustainability and forestry are among the disciplines OSU students most often specialize in.

    OSU’s focus on sustainability and diversity also draws students to the school’s engineering, biology, forestry and geoscience programs. As the campus continues to grow, it is working to complete a renovation that will improve the sustainability of the campus. OSU students take to their communities annually for a program called Campuses Take Charge. For CTC, participating students educate community members about reducing waste and energy usage in their homes and businesses.

    Quick Facts

    • Oregon offers nationally recognized programs in sustainability studies like forestry, wildlife management, zoology, conservation biology, agricultural science and nuclear engineering.
    • 22 exercise machines are connected to the power grid at OSU. When in use, these machines feed into the grid that helps to provide energy to the university’s services and facilities. Since 2007, efforts like these have cut the energy usage by two-thirds.
    • OSU has been recognized as an outstanding green university for several years running by the Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and the Sierra Club.
  12. Rank
    11
    School

    Santa Clara University

    Location
    Santa Clara, CA
    Tuition
    $42,156 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    500 El Camino Real
    Santa Clara, CA 95053
    (408) 554-4000

    Accreditation

    WASC/SCUC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 70.14

    This Silicon Valley Jesuit institution emphasizes a sustainable and environmentally conscious curriculum. On campus, the college continues to invest in green initiatives. The college has a fleet of energy efficient vehicles, has managed to divert more than half of its waste from landfills thanks to recycling efforts, aggressively invested in HVAC upgrades in order to reduce its energy consumption and more. The campus aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2020.

    Students who hold a bachelor's in engineering or physics might be interested in Santa Clara’s Master of Science in Sustainable Energy. This curriculum touches on subjects like alternative energy, smart grid technology and energy public policy. There are also other curriculums and pathways, such as leading people, organizations and social change, global health and food, hunger, poverty and the environment.

    Santa Clara is outfitted beautifully in Mission Revival architecture. Despite its urban location, SCU offers students an intimate campus, with an average student-teacher ratio of only 12:1. Student satisfaction is high, thanks in part to the one-on-one focus students receive. Adjacent to San Jose, this campus is located at the southern tip of the Bay area.

    Quick Facts

    • The Santa Clara University’s sustainability efforts have been recognized by more than a dozen agencies, including the Princeton Review, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Protection Agency and Silicon Valley Power.
    • In 2014, the college offered nearly 800 courses with an environmental or sustainability focus.
    • SLURP, an undergraduate academic program at SCU is open to all disciplines and allows for research opportunities in sustainability. Students enrolled in SLURP get a direct opportunity to impact energy conservation on-campus.
  13. Rank
    12
    School

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Tuition
    $8,340 in state;
    $30,122 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    103 South Bldg Cb 9100
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599
    (919) 962-2211

    Accreditation

    SACS/CC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 70.01

    The first public university in the U.S., UNC Chapel Hill is a mutli-campus institution comprised of 16 other universities. Ranked consistently by such respected institutions as the Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, this research institution is celebrated for its outstanding academics.

    The university also leads the nation in service learning, donating more than 1.7 million hours worth of community-based experiences in 2012-13.

    UNC has invested exemplary time and funds towards the sustainability outfitting of their campus. Chapel Hill offers students a fare-free transportation system, helping to cut carbon emissions. The campus diverted nearly half of their waste from landfills in 2013 thanks to aggressive recycling initiatives. Every new building at this campus since 2011 has been LEED certified, and some installations conserve resources and feature green roofs, cisterns, permeable pavement parking lots and infiltration beds.

    Quick Facts

    • UNC offers 460 different undergraduate courses in 52 departments that incorporate sustainability themes or address sustainability challenges.
    • Chartered in 1789, the campus is rich in historical landmarks: the Old Well, century-old Coker Arboretum and the beloved Playmakers Theatre chief among them.
    • The Botanical Gardens at UNC collect rainwater in underground cisterns, was constructed using 96% recycled materials and porous pavement of the newly installed parking lot filters rainwater before allowing it to enter neighboring streams.
  14. Rank
    13
    School

    Arizona State University

    Location
    Tempe, AZ
    Tuition
    $9,861 in state;
    $23,654 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    University Drive and Mill Avenue
    Tempe, AZ 85287
    (480) 965-9011

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 69.70

    Like many campuses on this list, Arizona State University strives to set an example for sustainability by building and maintaining a self-supporting campus. The college reuses 12 tons of compost materials from its landscaping, and also offers "green bins" where students can deposit compostable food waste. By 2015, all four of ASU’s satellite campuses will achieve its goal of zero solid waste, reducing its landfill waste by 90%, recycling, repurposing and reusing the remaining 10%. The campus is transparent about its success and failures, publishing the results of its energy and water usage in realtime in an initiative called Campus Metabolism.

    The college’s entire campus is a nationally recognized Arboretum. The largest public arboretum in the state, it is home to more than 900 species of flourishing plant life from around the world. The Tempe campus is nationally recognized for its outstanding research opportunities and graduate education. This campus is home to the nation’s first School of Sustainability; founded in 2006, this college has served as a model for universities around the world. The SOS aims to educate a new generation of citizens to develop practices for addressing the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.

    Quick Facts

    • Sustainability students at ASU benefit from hands-on experience in a living solar laboratory at the Tempe campus.
    • Arizona uses more than just solar power to offset its energy waste; the Tempe campus has also installed six wind turbines to harvest even more sustainable energy.
    • Academic opportunities abound for undergraduate and graduate students at ASU’s School of Sustainability. Nearly 100% of sustainability graduates are gainfully employed or enrolled in more terminal studies.
  15. Rank
    14
    School

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Tuition
    $6,382 in state;
    $20,180 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1400 Spring Garden St
    Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
    (336) 334-5000

    Accreditation

    SACS/CC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 69.60

    Greensboro, as its name suggests, is rich in greenery. The third-largest city in North Carolina, this campus is located in the Piedmont Triangle halfway between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. Two hours west are the Blue Ridge Mountains, while the Atlantic Ocean is 3.5 miles to the east. Greensboro features more than 170 parks and gardens, as well as miles of greenways perfect for hiking, biking, golf, tennis.

    Greensboro wants to keep green living in the foreground for a new generation of students. The campus offers a broad, interdisciplinary degree in environmental studies and sustainability. Students will study ecosystems, climate, pollution and natural resources alongside topics like public policy, economics and ethics. A sustainability minor is also available.

    Students pursuing environmental and sustainability studies take part in an exciting range of internship opportunities, including state parks, Greensboro Natural Science Center, the Piedmont Environmental Center, the Piedmont Land Conservancy, the North Carolina Sierra Club and the Office of Sustainability at UNCG.

    Quick Facts

    • Greensboro’s sustainability students often choose to study abroad thanks to the great number of opportunities to travel available to environmental studies majors.
    • The college offers a Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality program that teaches students the "triple bottom line goals of economic viability (profit), social responsibility (people), and environmental protection (planet)."
    • Like most campuses in the U.S., UNCG is working towards building a greener campus, and is currently pursuing more efficient waste, water and energy consumption initiatives.
  16. Rank
    15
    School

    Furman University

    Location
    Greenville, SC
    Tuition
    $43,164 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    3300 Poinsett Highway
    Greenville, SC 29613-6162
    (864) 294-2000

    Accreditation

    SACS/CC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 69.25

    Learn lakeside at Greenville’s picturesque Furman University. At Furman students spend most of their time on-campus: unless they are married or commute from a parent’s house, students are required to live on site. Another graduation requirement is the attendance of 36 or more community events alongside their peers, in an effort to foster a sense of community and leadership.

    Furman’s sustainability efforts are in keeping with national standards: the college is working to conserve, reduce and recycle on campus, and is constructing green buildings, providing students with alternative transportation and using food grown on-campus in its dining halls whenever possible. The university hopes to achieve carbon neutrality by 2026.

    Quick Facts

    • The Shi Center for Sustainability, the campus think-tank for sustainability, brings educators and students together with the common goal of creating environmental change.
    • Students at Furman can choose to study sustainability in their curriculum, major in energy conservation or take part in sustainability research.
    • Outcomes at Furman are exemplary. The student-teacher ratio at this campus is a modest 11:1. The retention rate in 2012-13 was 87%; the graduation rate was 84%.
  17. Rank
    16
    School

    University of Massachusetts – Amherst

    Location
    Amherst, MA
    Tuition
    $7,878 in state;
    $23,088 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    374 Whitmore Building 181 Presidents Drive
    Amherst, MA 01003
    (413) 545-0111

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 69.16

    Climate scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are national leaders in their field. For this reason, UMass was selected by the federal government to lead a seven-university consortium of seven universities. The college also plays host to a new statewide initiative, the Northeast Climate Science Center, which is dedicated to measuring climate change and other environmental analytics.

    This campus is one of the only public universities in the U.S. to install permaculture gardens on-campus. These agricultural initiatives educate students about sound, sustainable farming practices, while also supplying the campus with fresh, organic produce. In 2013, the college became the largest provider in the country to take part in the Real Food Campus Commitment. This pledge demonstrates the university’s continued commitment to implementing green policies that enrich the environment and the lives of the students on-campus.

    Students at UMA live and learn in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. The site is 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from New York City. For students interested in climate-change, environmental studies and sustainability, there are 25 relevant undergraduate majors and more than 300 courses on offer with a similar focus.

    Quick Facts

    • UMA is rated the 25th most efficient among top-rated national universities by U.S. News & World Report and has been recognized for its commitment to leadership in sustainability, value and excellence in education.
    • Amherst is committed to achieving total carbon neutrality by the year 2050.
    • UMass is a tobacco-free campus. All first-year students must reside on-campus, and are encouraged to take part in one of more than 200 student organizations on the college grounds.
  18. Rank
    17
    School

    University of Illinois at Urbana

    Location
    Champaign, IL
    Tuition
    $13,443 in state;
    $28,159 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    601 E John Street
    Champaign, IL 61820-5711
    (217) 333-1000

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 68.80

    Home to the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment, the University of Illinois intends to invest approximately $400,000 in seed funding for student and faculty proposals. A recycling program on campus eliminates nearly half of the university’s waste from city landfills.

    The college works consistently to reduce its energy consumption, and intends to reduce its energy consumption by 40% come 2025. This is also the year that the Urbana campus hopes to achieve carbon neutrality.

    Students at the University of Illinois can major in such environmentally-focused studies as Crop Sciences, Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability and Environmental Economics and Policy. There are many more undergraduate and graduate programs available, including an option to minor in sustainability.

    Quick Facts

    • Beginning in the spring of 2015, the campus broke ground on a 20.8-acre, 5.87-megawatt solar farm that will make U of I one of only ten solar campuses in the U.S. and account for 2% of the colleges energy needs.
    • Retention rates at this green campus were an impressive 93% in 2012-13, and graduation rates for that same academic year were 84%.
    • The University of Illinois is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign in east-central Illinois. The campus is only a few hours away from Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis.
  19. Rank
    18
    School

    George Mason University

    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Tuition
    $14,750 in state;
    $29,132 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    4400 University Dr
    Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
    (703) 993-1000

    Accreditation

    SACS/CC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 68.78

    Clustered around the Washington, D.C. area, George Mason’s class sizes are relatively small for an institution of its size and influence. Most classrooms have 25 to 30 students, and an average student-teacher ratio of 16:1.

    The campus offers nine undergraduate degrees with a focus on sustainability, and over 70 courses that span the disciplines. The campus is equipped with ten green research centers, each committed to the development and maintenance of energy and water conservation, ecosystem preservation and the advocacy of sustainable infrastructures. Undergraduate and graduate students alike have the opportunity to conduct original research, and the research on climate change at George Mason has been impressive over the last decade.

    Quick Facts

    • George Mason University offers tuition-incentives to students in order to support the greening of the campus. Research funding, service-learning opportunities and internships through sustainability studies are also available to students.
    • Students can also study conservation biology in a unique, up-close-and-personal setting via the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation. Here, students will work with endangered animals such as clouded leopards, red pandas, Przewalski horses and other endangered species.
    • Campus Living Learning Communities foster sustainability through LLC residential learning cooperatives. Group learning, lively Earthwise discussion and off-campus experiential learning are some of the benefits of this program.
  20. Rank
    19
    School

    George Washington University

    Location
    Washington, DC
    Tuition
    $47,343 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    2121 I Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20052
    (202) 994-1000

    Accreditation

    MSCHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 68.72

    George Washington University was chartered by Congress and founded in the early 1800s. Located in the Foggy Bottom District of Washington, D.C., this campus is ideal for the budding political science major and those who seek an urban campus experience.

    Despite its metropolitan bent, the university emphasizes a future rich with well-managed resources that allows individuals and communities alike to thrive. GWU continues to build onto its green campus, which already houses bike-sharing resources, electric car-charging stations, solar thermal hot water, green roofs and stormwater capture.

    Urban Food Task Force is another sustainable initiative in place at GWU. This program intends to identify and implement scholarship and research of sustainable urban food policies, healthy eating and food preparation. In addition, the Adventure Bound programs at George Washington guides students on outdoor excursions hiking, kayaking and horseback riding.

    Quick Facts

    • Although the campus is large, the average student-teacher ratio at GWU is only 13:1.
    • GWU is within walking distance of the Washington Monument and the National Mall and is only four blocks from the White House.
    • Freshmen, sophomores and juniors (as of 2018) are required to reside on-campus.
  21. Rank
    20
    School

    Portland State University

    Location
    Portland, OR
    Tuition
    $9,908 in state;
    $28,592 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    724 SW Harrison
    Portland, OR 97201
    (503) 725-3511

    Accreditation

    NCCU

    School Description

    STARS Score: 68.67

    Portland State University believes universities and public research institutions are uniquely poised to solve some of the world’s most pressing concerns about the planet’s longevity. That is why the institution adopted the Declaration of Support for Sustainability in 2005. Today, this subject is central to the college’s vision, a foundational learning outcome for students and an area of expertise for the institution.

    Students can earn a bachelor's, master's or professional certificate at PSU in subjects like environmental sciences or sustainability. The Sustainability Leadership Center prepares students to take part in environmental leadership opportunities.

    Portland State University is the home of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. This earth-focused brain trust is funded through a 10-year investment from the Miller Foundation. The ISS focuses on urban sustainability, social determinants of health and ecosystem services. PSU’s campus features several LEED-certified buildings and also offers a smart transportation system for students.

    Quick Facts

    • PSU works to reduce its carbon footprint by monitoring its sustainability benchmarks, updating its policies and planning new conservation and greening goals.
    • The campus has earned national recognition from many organizations for its ongoing environmental studies research and sustainability initiatives.
    • Portland’s history of progressive attitudes has earned it the reputation of being one of the country’s most livable cities and offers students access to the abundant natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest’s surf, trails and slopes.
  22. Rank
    21
    School

    Cornell University

    Location
    Ithaca, NY
    Tuition
    $45,358 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    300 Day Hall
    Ithaca, NY 14853
    (607) 255-2000

    Accreditation

    MSCHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 68.46

    Cornell's Sustainable Campus is part of the college’s "unwavering commitment to leave a positive impact on the world." The westernmost Ivy League college in the U.S., Cornell provides students and fellows with scholarship, research opportunities and the opportunity to contribute to fashioning a more sustainable lifestyle for all.

    The college accomplishes this by offering a sustainability focus in nearly every department. Cornell is one of the only colleges in the country to offer a minor in climate change. By 2050, the college intends to achieve net-zero carbon neutrality, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% and spend at least $45 million on energy-conservation projects.

    Located in Ithaca, this 2,300-acre campus in Ithaca, New York offers views of two impressive gorges, a botanical garden that spans 35 acres and a 100-acre arboretum. Students can participate in a number of programs that educate the public about climate change and global warming.

    Quick Facts

  23. Rank
    22
    School

    Sterling College

    Location
    Craftsbury Common, VT
    Tuition
    $29,894 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    16 Sterling Drive
    Craftsbury Common, VT 05827-0072
    (802) 586-7711

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 68.19

    An environmentally-focused, four-year college in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, this institution strives to nurture thoughtful and innovative scholars. Students at Sterling learn through the lens of becoming a better steward of the environment, and their experience at this university is a blend of academic and experiential learning.

    In keeping with the goal of spreading goodwill and betterment, Sterling has adopted a curriculum rich in sustainability offerings. Outdoor skills training is a foundational tenet of an education at this institution. Students are also required to complete an internship prior to graduating, and their education includes courses on examining issues and defending perspectives.

    The campus has not had vending machines for over a decade and leads the nation in producing sustainable farmed food on-campus for students.The student-run farm produces 20% of the food served on-campus, and much of the labor is performed by draft horses (as opposed to modern farm equipment). Sterling leads the nation in sustainability initiatives, all of which are regularly updated on their website.

    Quick Facts

    • 100% of the students at Sterling receive scholarships to offset the cost of education.
    • 95% of the students at SC report gainful employment following the first year after graduation. 80% of those students stated their employment was either closely or somewhat related to their major area of study.
    • With the installation of ten more solar trackers from AllEarth Renewables; this campus will be equipped to power more than 80% of its electricity usage on campus using solar power. Even the barns at Sterling are powered by solar energy.
  24. Rank
    23
    School

    Kankakee Community College

    Location
    Kankakee, IL
    Tuition
    $6,190 in state;
    $14,110 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    100 College Drive
    Kankakee, IL 60901
    (815) 802-8100

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 67.94

    The Advanced Technology Education Center at KCC houses classrooms, labs and other facilities to offer hands-on technical training for sustainability-related fields like wind generation, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic systems and electrical instruction.

    The campus uses a range of these alternative energy sources to power learning on-site, including wind-generated power, photovoltaic "green" roofs, unique ice storage HVAC systems and geothermal and solar thermal energy. Kankakee College encourages students and faculty to participate in aggressive recycling initiatives and conservation efforts and hopes to make Kankakee synonymous with sustainability.

    Quick Facts

    • Kankakee has organized the courses they offer that have a sustainability or environmental emphasis into an easy-to-access online list.
    • This community college offers an associate program in renewable energy studies, the A.A.S. in Renewable Energy, as well as a certificate program in Sustainable Resource Management.
    • The student-teacher ratio at Kanakee Community College is a modest 15:1.
  25. Rank
    24
    School

    University of New Hampshire

    Location
    Durham, NH
    Tuition
    $16,496 in state;
    $29,216 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    105 Main St., Thompson Hall
    Durham, NH 03824-3547
    (603) 862-1234

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 67.84

    Situated near the state’s coastline, small-town Durham’s University of New Hampshire is a public institution that pairs all the ambiance of a rustic New England liberal arts campus with the prestige of a research university. An hours’ drive from Boston, the college offers an emphasis on connecting with nature through the Outdoor Adventures program, as well as a unique group fitness focus.

    A sustainability program makes sense in this rural setting, which is why the University of New Hampshire is proud to offer several graduate programs and certificates that deal directly with the subject of sustainability. UNH also offers a sustainability emphasis in many of their degree offerings, such as Oceanography, Environmental Sciences and Outdoor Education. The college continues to develop more degree programs, and updates their program website as these programs become available.

    Quick Facts

    • UNH has adopted campus-wide green initiatives and building updates to keep the college fluent in conservation, such as waste reduction, solar panel installation and a greenhouse gas emission inventory.
    • An optional freshmen orientation activity at UNH called Pre-Orientation Adventure for Wildcats (PAWS) offers outdoorsy students the chance to spend 6 days and 5 nights camping with a group of 8-10 incoming freshmen.
    • Environmental science majors may wish to study or work abroad during the course of their studies at UNH.
  26. Rank
    25
    School

    Florida Gulf Coast University

    Location
    Fort Myers, FL
    Tuition
    $6,118 in state;
    $25,440 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    10501 Fgcu Blvd S
    Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
    (239) 590-1000

    Accreditation

    SACS/CC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 67.40

    Situated on 800 acres, 400 of which consist of preserved and restored uplands and wetlands, this campus features a 15-acre solar field that provides the school with over 80% of the energy needed to operate several buildings. Lake installations on campus have become home for a large sample of wildlife, promoting a better ecology around the campus.

    Fostering a sustainable environment is one of the core tenets of the FGCU’s mission. From the pursual of LEED certification for new buildings to the installation of solar panels and a thermal storage plant, Florida Gulf Coast is working to invest in a sustainable future.

    Students at FGCU may be interested in pursuing a degree in environmental engineering. In this program, students learn about ecosystems, human health and the environment. Hands-on learning opportunities are a fantastic supplement to these studies and available in spades through the Office of Civic Engagement.

    Quick Facts

    • Between 2013 and 2014, students donated nearly 20,000 hours of community service as part of a service-learning initiative at FGCU.
    • 81% of students at this university received some form of financial aid during their first year of studies during the 2012-13 school year.
    • Since the college opened in 1997, FGCU has been awarded $184.8 million in total research grants and funding.
  27. Rank
    26
    School

    Wartburg College 

    Location
    Waverly, IA
    Tuition
    $34,250 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    100 Wartburg Blvd.
    Waverly, IA 50677-0903
    (319) 352-8200

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 67.20

    Wartburg College, a school with Evangelical ties, nurtures and challenges students to strive for lives rich in service and leadership. The curriculum focuses on global and multicultural education, leadership and experiential learning. Since faith informs Wartburg's academics, there is a strong commitment to educating the whole person, as well as on transformative education.

    Responsible stewardship of the environment is a logical focus of such a service-oriented institution. Students often choose to enroll in the Environmental Science and Studies program, which prepares them for a career in conservation biology, environmental law and policy and renewable energies. Students also have the chance to see conservation and sustainability at work in Wartburg’s own sustainability initiatives.

    Quick Facts

    • This college is named after the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany.
    • Wartburg has been recognized for its high retention rates (85%) and small course sizes (12:1 student-teacher ratio during the 2012-13 academic year).
  28. Rank
    27
    School

    Columbia University in the City of New York

    Location
    New York, NY
    Tuition
    $49,138 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    West 116 St and Broadway
    New York, NY 10027
    (212) 854-1754

    Accreditation

    MSCHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 67.16

    Columbia University is an Ivy League institution located in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights in the upper westside. Attractions nearby include the Guggenheim Museum, Grant’s Tomb and Central Park.

    Columbia aims to model energy conservation by decreasing consumption and reducing their carbon footprint. The campus uses recycled materials for new-building construction (pursuant to LEED standards), encouraging students to reduce energy use and waste output and to adopt "greener" ways. The campus aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions dramatically in the next decade as part of a pledge to cut New York’s emissions by 80% collectively.

    Academic opportunities to explore the environment, green construction and sustainability are rich at Columbia. The campus offers 24 such programs, including a sustainable development major and master's program.

    Quick Facts

    • More than 90% of students live on-campus at Columbia, some in historic brownstones (though these are primarily reserved for Greek life on-campus).
    • Water-bottle filling stations on campus are one way Columbia has reduced their waste output.
    • One notable sustainability effort at Columbia involves commencement: undergraduate and graduate students wear "green gowns" when they walk, each made from 23 recycled plastic bottles.
  29. Rank
    28
    School

    Macalester College

    Location
    Saint Paul, MN
    Tuition
    $45,388 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1600 Grand Ave
    Saint Paul, MN 55105-1899
    (651) 696-6000

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 66.99
    Macalester’s modern campus is steeped in tradition. One of those traditions is a history of producing ethical leaders. Located minutes from the twin cities, the campus is nested inside a quaint residential area.

    With a focus on service learning, transformative education is a hallmark of the curriculum at Macalester College. Students interested in a sustainability program can visit the EcoHouse. This 1950s era home has been outfitted with solar panels and green technologies to give students the chance to experience the nuts and bolts of alternative fuel. Using student-leveraged feedback, advancements are being made in the application of alternative energy.

    Students who elect to participate in the Environmental Studies at Macalester can expect to take part in hands-on learning. Case studies inform didactic learning, problem-solving strategies and community involvement are a major component of learning in this environmental curriculum. Topics addressed in this program include environmental issues at the local and global levels.

    Quick Facts

    • 70% of the classes taught at Macalester College have 20 students are fewer, and the average student-teacher ratio is only 10:1.
    • Macalester aims to become carbon neutral by 2025.
    • The graduation rate at Macalester College during the 2013-2014 school year was 81%.
  30. Rank
    29
    School

    SUNY College at Cortland

    Location
    Cortland, NY
    Tuition
    $7,327 in state;
    $16,777 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    Miller Administration Building, Graham Avenue
    Cortland, NY 13045-0900
    (607) 753-2011

    Accreditation

    MSCHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 66.84

    The State University of New York at Cortland (SUNY Cortland) has reduced their carbon footprint through a commitment to reduction and recycling. The campus offers alternative transportation options like bike-share, carpooling and electric vehicles, which has significantly reduced annual emissions. First-year students at SUNY are required to live on-campus, cutting down on the number of commuters to and from the site annually.

    Students interested in sustainability education will explore the physics of sustainable energy systems as a graduate student. This degree prepares students for a career in solar thermal power, ocean energy or architecture and design. Undergraduates can choose to explore conservation biology, physics and outdoor recreation programs for a chance to investigate more broad and interdisciplinary studies in the environmental sciences.

    Quick Facts

    • SUNY Cortland was the first institution out of the 64-campus SUNY system to achieve full operation of their facilities using only renewable electrical energy sources.
    • Each year the campus hires 16 "Green Reps" to act as the long arm of the sustainability department at SUNY, offering guidance and tips to trim the fat on waste production on the campus at-large.
    • All students at SUNY are welcome to participate in the Model Garden, which was established in 2013 to demonstrate ecologically sustainable planting and harvest in an urban setting.
  31. Rank
    30
    School

    Pennsylvania State University

    Location
    University Park, PA
    Tuition
    $16,992 in state;
    $29,566 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    201 Old Main
    University Park, PA 16802-1503
    (814) 865-4700

    Accreditation

    MSCHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 66.74

    Pennsylvania State University’s campus has been heralded as beautiful, research-oriented, and a leader in sustainability and environmental studies. Surrounded by mountains, this campus rests in a valley at the center of the state, but is also near to hiking and skiing opportunities. For this reason, environmental and sustainability programs are a popular choice for prospective students. There are no shortage of such degree options for undergraduate and graduate students alike, and the college also offers many minors for interdisciplinary studies.

    Improving the lives of others and fostering a global perspective are key tenets of an education at Pennsylvania State University. For that reason, service learning and hands-on experience are an important part of a degree in sustainability at Penn State. Students take part in internships, fellowships and research with the EPA, Penn State and the U.S Dept. of Defense. Clubs and student organizations, such as the beekeeper’s club or community gardens, give students a chance to network and give back in equal measure, finding a foothold in a specialty that interests them the most.

    Quick Facts

    • Beginning in 2014, every building on campus will possess composting and recycling capabilities. The university has also invested in green tech, local food sourcing and transportation initiatives.
    • Freshmen are encouraged to live in one of five housing areas on campus at Penn State. The retention rate for the 2012-13 school year at this green campus was a whopping 92%; the graduation rate for that same year was 85%.
    • Penn State has received many accolades for their quality programs, but on campus and online. Environmental studies has been nationally ranked according to the National Science Foundation, U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger's and more.
  32. Rank
    31
    School

    Colgate University

    Location
    Hamilton, NY
    Tuition
    $46,380 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    13 Oak Dr
    Hamilton, NY 13346-1398
    (315) 228-1000

    Accreditation

    ,

    School Description

    STARS Score: 66.71

    The campus at Colgate enrolls roughly as many students as the population of the friendly town of Hamilton. The facilities are located on a hillside, offering students immaculate grounds and carefully preserved architecture circa 1827. Undergraduates are required to spend their first three years on-campus at Colgate; many of these (approximately half of the student body) participate in Greek life.

    Sustainability at Colgate is a way of life, incorporated into the curriculum and the facility itself. Through climate action planning, alternative transportation and waste minimization and recycling, the campus will achieve a sustainable and environmentally-viable campus. Students can pursue a degree in environmental studies at Colgate, where they will prepare for rewarding careers in environmental biology, geography and economics. An interdisciplinary focus allows students to get the most out of their degree at CU, enrolling in courses that most closely match their goals after graduation.

    Quick Facts

    • The student-faculty ratio at Colgate is an intimate 9:1, ensuring one-on-one interaction between faculty and students.
    • CU aims for carbon neutrality by 2019.
    • The campus hosts 13 Days of Green around Earth Day each year. This event features programming and engagement opportunities surrounding environmental impact and sustainability.
  33. Rank
    32
    School

    Unity College

    Location
    Unity, ME
    Tuition
    $25,000 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    90 Quaker Hill Road
    Unity, ME 04988
    (207) 948-9100

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 66.59

    Unity has a long-standing reputation as one of the most comprehensive environmental colleges in the U.S. The institution’s focus on sustainable science and focus on practical solutions to modern ecological issues has become a strong voice in the battle to neutralize climate change.

    Stressing a liberal arts curriculum, Unity is educating the next generation of optimistic leaders in sustainability and climate change advocacy. The college offers 16 environmentally-focused majors, all of which rely on hands-on service learning and a strong sustainability science core to educate undergraduates. Exciting majors, such as Captive Wildlife Care and Education and Environmental Writing and Media Studies, offer up an unparalleled education in environmental citizenry.

    Quick Facts

    • Nova Trips are required for all incoming Unity students. During this distinctive experience, students will become oriented to the Unity experience and experience personal growth and begin their journey as stewards of the environment.
    • Research and internships are a distinguishing characteristic of an environmental science degree at Unity. Off-campus activities cement core concepts and guide students toward a deeper understanding of their chosen major.
    • Unity College’s field-and-forested campus offers scenic views of Lake Winnecook, and is informed by Maine’s rocky Atlantic coast and versatile ecosystems.
  34. Rank
    33
    School

    Babson College

    Location
    Wellesley, MA
    Tuition
    $43,520 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    231 Forest Street
    Wellesley, MA 02457-0310
    (781) 235-1200

    Accreditation

    NEASC/CIHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 66.56

    Babson is unique in that every discipline is informed by a curriculum that stresses sustainability and entrepreneurship. Babson places a strong emphasis on Social, Environmental, Economic Responsibility, and Sustainability (SEERS); these concepts are core tenets of the experience at Babson. Students learn that "economic and social value creation are not mutually exclusive, but instead integral to each other." By presenting the task of changing policies and practices regarding sustainability in a business framework, Babson is preparing students to enact real change in the climate of environmental science.

    Sustainability and social responsibility are addressed in nearly every course on campus, but Babson is also inclined to practice what they preach. The college aims to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2050 and offers a handful of initiatives on-campus that further this goal.

    Quick Facts

    • Babson has ranked first in the country for two decades running by U.S. News & World Report for its unparalleled focus on producing thoughtful and effective leaders.
    • A selective college, this institution admits 28% of its applicants each year. Class sizes are small, with an average student-teacher ratio of just 14:1.
    • Undergraduates at Babson may only enroll in one curriculum: a one-of-a-kind business management degree with a broad scope, designed to prepare students for success across disciplines.
  35. Rank
    34
    School

    Grand Valley State University

    Location
    Allendale, MI
    Tuition
    $10,716 in state;
    $15,388 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1 Campus Dr
    Allendale, MI 49401-9403
    (616) 331-2020

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 66.03

    GVSU is known locally and globally for their applied sustainability on-campus and in the community. In regards to its on-site initiatives, the campus uses local vendors on campus, advocates for composting and recyclable consumer materials whenever possible and participates in clean-up initiatives like Adopt-a-Highway. Grand Valley State University composts all of its food waste, using it in their community garden. This and many other waste-reduction programs help make GVSU work towards its goal of being a zero-waste institution.

    Natural Resource Management and Liberal Studies with an emphasis in sustainability are two of the majors available for students at Grand Valley, as well as several minors that focus on integrated green lifestyles in business and career settings. The college offers more than 190 sustainability-focused studies in more than 30 departments.

    Quick Facts

    • Campus Dining is proud to have earned a 3-Star Green Restaurant Certification for the sustainability efforts at Engrained.
    • Students with a science concentration may find the Green Chemistry certificate program of interest, or any one of the dozen related courses offered on campus.
    • Biodegradable disposable-ware is used as often as possible at Grand Valley, including plates made of sugar cane, corn-based cutlery and disposable cups made from natural and renewable produces.
  36. Rank
    35
    School

    Loyola University Chicago

    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Tuition
    $35,573 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1032 W. Sheridan Rd
    Chicago, IL 60660
    (773) 274-3000

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 65.87

    With three campuses in Chicago (and one in Rome), the Loyola University network makes the school the largest private Catholic college in the country. Green living advocacy falls right in line with Loyola's focus on a holistic, transformative education that endeavors to educate students intellectually, physically, socially and spiritually. Hands-on learning and classrooms with a student-teacher ratio of just 14:1 contribute to the college’s 85% retention rate.

    Located in the heart of Chicago, this cosmopolitan campus is within walking distance of dozens of museums and acclaimed restaurants, theaters, art galleries and venues. More than 550 parks dot the city, such as the iconic Millennium, Grant and Lincoln Park.

    This campus’ urban environment gives students the unique opportunity to learn about practical implementation of sustainable change in a cutting edge city. Solutions to Environmental Problems promotes discussion and action concerning sustainability, working in the areas of biodiesel, food and water systems.

    Quick Facts

    • The Institute of Environmental Sustainability offers several dual five-year degree programs, including a BA/BS in Environmental Science and an MBA.
    • Loyola students are recognized nationally for having the most Peace Corps volunteers of any school. Since 1961, more than 450 students have volunteered through Loyola.
    • San Francisco Hall, one of Loyola’s newest additions, features a greenhouse, eco-friendly cafe, and other environmentally friendly features.
  37. Rank
    36
    School

    University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Tuition
    $7,024 in state;
    $18,437 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
    Colorado Springs, CO 80918
    (719) 255-3000

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 65.82

    The efforts at UCCS to keep emissions and waste to a minimum are in line with Colorado State’s Greening Initiative. The Colorado Greening of State calls for an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and this goal is being reached thanks to businesses and agencies like UCCS that invest in clean technologies, transportation and waste management alternatives. UCCS has retrofitted and updated appliances on-campus, invested student research and hours to implementing programs and enterprises that enhance sustainability and rejuvenated plant life and forestry losses in the state, and there are more green works to come.

    The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies offers four tracks for students interested in learning about ways to positively impact the world’s sustainability issues. Bachelor's and master’s students can learn about geology, sustainable development and more, with small class sizes and amples hands-on research opportunities.

    Quick Facts

    • The fastest-growing university in Colorado, the campus is taking steps to become increasingly sustainable: implementing tray-less dining, student-farmed organic food production, composting and bike/vehicle sharing and zero-waste initiatives.
    • UCCS was recognized on the Green Honor Roll at Princeton Review in 2014 and pursues LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for all new buildings.
    • Sustainability is incorporated in the General Education Compass Curriculum for all UCCS undergraduates.
  38. Rank
    37
    School

    Northern Arizona University

    Location
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Tuition
    $9,738 in state;
    $22,093 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1900 S. Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center
    Flagstaff, AZ 86011-4132
    (928) 523-9011

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 65.60

    Reducing the carbon footprint at Northern Arizona University has shaped the academic landscape for its students and the Flagstaff community. The campus delivers instruction digitally to diminish paper waste. It also promotes water conservation by funding the replacement of old shower heads and encouraging students to use water conservatively. Online learning and green computing are other initiatives at NAU that conserve resources without compromising the school's academic excellence.

    Located at the base of the San Francisco peaks, this historic town has historically been a railway and lumber community. In addition to a rustic downtown scene, the community offers an arboretum, observatory (where Pluto was discovered in 1930), a destination lodge for skiers and snowboarders state-wide and pristine, forested wilderness for environmental science majors to explore.

    Quick Facts

    • Social transformation on-campus is not confined to sustainable building and operations. The School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Stability extends programs to undergraduate and graduate students in subjects like geology, climate sciences and solutions and education in earth science.
    • Located in the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest, the nationally-ranked forestry program at NAU offers students the benefit of access to five life zones within fifty miles of campus.
    • NAU’s community environment programs focus on interdisciplinary studies that focus on the complex issues surrounding sustainability, social justice and relevant environmental issues.
  39. Rank
    38
    School

    Western Michigan University

    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Tuition
    $10,355 in state;
    $24,109 out of state
    +

    Websites

    Address

    1903 West Michigan Avenue
    Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5200
    (269) 387-1000

    Accreditation

    NCACS/THLC

    School Description

    STARS Score: 65.57

    Western Michigan University has largely earned its reputation as a green campus thanks to their transportation infrastructure. The college has electric charging stations, opts for a green fleet of vehicles for on-campus use and is constructed with bike- and pedestrian-friendly design in mind.

    Student permaculture gardens generate funds for the sustainability efforts at WMU and foster organic eating and farming practices for students and the public. The college’s EcoMug program is a one-of-a-kind effort to reduce waste, and the Office for Sustainability’s Solid Waste Reduction works with every department on campus to realize a zero-waste policy.

    Annual events such as RecycleMania and EcoThon encourage school-wide eco-conscious awareness. The Office of Sustainability also conducts research on the campus' recycling initiatives and publishes guides promoting sustainability.

    Quick Facts

    • The environmental and sustainability studies program at Western Michigan is one of the oldest in the country.
    • WMU has received consistent accolades for its ongoing commitment to sustainability and green practices, including a Climate Leadership award from Second Nature.
    • The campus is located near many cultural and recreational points of interest; it is within 40 minutes of the beaches of Lake Michigan, and the town’s attractions include a 35-mile bike trail in-construction and the acclaimed Kalamazoo Air Zoo amusement park.
  40. Rank
    39
    School

    Bard College

    Location
    Annandale-On-Hudson, NY
    Tuition
    $46,370 annually
    +

    Websites

    Address

    Annandale Road
    Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
    (845) 758-6822

    Accreditation

    MSCHE

    School Description

    STARS Score: 65.38

    For Bard College, sustainability is an indelible part of the college’s identity. Twenty-five buildings on campus at this private liberal arts college are powered by geothermal energy, which provides hot water and electricity to the facilities on its intimate, park-like campus. Overlooking the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River, this institution is one of the many Red Hook businesses working to reduce the town’s energy consumption by participating in the 10% Red Hook Challenge.

    The campus’ student-run organic farm, Bard College Farm, connects Bard to the regional agricultural community, educates students about green farm-to-table practices and provides organic, fresh food to the on-site dining hall. Disposable wares and utensils served from the BC dining hall are 100% compostable, and food is served without a tray in order to save energy and resources.

    Quick Facts

Information & Data

Ranking Methodology

The list of 50 greenest colleges and universities below was generated using the STARS Participants & Reports database. Each of these higher-learning institutions has earned a ‘Gold’ rating from STARS, signifying an overall score of 65 to 84. (At this time, there are not any U.S. schools to have earned the ‘Platinum’ rating). In order to receive a Gold rating, an academic institution must earn points in the following areas:

  • Academics: Curriculum and Research
    • This area covers courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, ‘sustainability literacy’ among students, incentives for introducing more courses that tackle environmental topics, and the campus’ status as a ‘living laboratory.’
  • Engagement: Campus Engagement and Community Engagement
    • This area explores ways that students and faculty members seek to educate others, advocate for green causes on-campus and within the local community, and participate in discussions about environmental policies and engagement among different stakeholders.
  • Operations: Air & Climate, Buildings, Dining Services, Energy, Grounds, Purchasing, Transportation, Waste, and Water
    • This area considers specific projects and retrofits that have been installed on-campus in order to reduce energy consumption and waste. These might include:
      • A community garden where students grow produce for dining facilities
      • A campus-wide light bulb exchange to recycle light bulbs and prevent them from entering landfills.
      • A student and faculty bike exchange program
      • Solar panels, wind turbines, biomass generators, and other alternative energy sources
      • Wastewater treatment systems for buildings and residence halls
      • Hybrid vehicles in the campus transportation fleet
  • Planning & Administration: Coordination, Planning & Governance, Diversity & Affordability, Health, Wellbeing & Work, Investment
    • This area examines how effectively colleges and universities enable students and faculty members to take part in green initiatives. Points are also awarded in this category to schools that promote diversity, foster a culture of inclusion, and take measures to increase on-campus safety and wellness.

Four additional points (known as ‘Innovation Credits’) may be awarded to schools that introduce green initiatives and programs that are deemed especially creative and resourceful. For more information on the STARS Rating criteria, please check out pages 18-19 of the Stars 2.0 Technical Manual.

How to Interpret the Data

Academic institutions that wish to promote green causes are not hindered by the number of enrolled students. Our list contains schools with more than 40,000 students like New York University, the University of Washington, and Arizona State University, as well as institutions with fewer than 2,500 enrolled students, such as Oberlin College, Pomona College, and Chatham University.

Please note that our list is divided into two sections. Numbers 1-32 represent the greenest colleges and universities that have earned a Gold rating and elected to share their final score online. These schools are ranked in descending order by score. The remaining 18 schools have chosen not to share their final score, and are listed alphabetically. For this reason, it’s possible that some of the final 18 greenest schools actually earned a higher score than those in the first group of 32.