The University of California, Davis tops Sierra Club’s annual “green” colleges list, jumping from No. 8 to the No. 1 spot by diverting about 70 percent of its trash, opening the country’s largest planned zero-net-energy residential community and encouraging bike use on campus.
While none of this year’s colleges earned a perfect score in Sierra’s categories, which included cutting emissions, serving sustainable food and offering sustainability classes, UC Davis earned 709.17 out of a possible 894.5 points.
Georgia Institute of Technology (704.89), Stanford University (681.48), the University of Washington (679.56), and the University of Connecticut (667) also ranked in the top five.
Only 96 four-year US colleges and universities answered Sierra Club’s 2012 survey questions.
No. 2-ranked Georgia Tech offers more than 260 classes about sustainability and steers students toward taking at least one such course, Sierra Club says. It also invests its endowment responsibly and takes measure to prevent dining-hall waste.
Sierra Club highlights Stanford’s 20-some classes about domestic and global food systems, and says students compost and harvest ingredients, including barley for beer, from the university’s organic gardens.
More than half of University of Washington’s food is produced within 250 miles of campus, according to Sierra Club, which gives the school high scores for its renewable energy use and seven bicycle-repair stations around campus.
The No. 5 school, UConn, has a new composting facility that processes up to 15 truckloads of manure per week. Sierra Club also praises the school’s extensive recycling programs for everything from old cell phones to sneakers: the campus collects the latter for Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program, which turns worn footwear into running tracks and playground surfaces.
Sierra Club has compiled its greenest schools list for six years. University of Washington ranked No. 1 in 2011, and Green Mountain College topped the list in 2010.
This year, Colby College, Colorado State University, Purdue University and Rochester Institute of Technology made the “Final Four” round of the March Madness tournament for Environmental Studies, sponsored by Enviance and Environmental Leader. Colby was the eventual champion.