Information & Data
The list of 39 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.