Ohio State University, Colorado State University, the University of Virginia and five other US colleges have been named quarter finalists in the second annual Environmental March Madness, a competition to find the most sustainable university in the country.
According to tournament sponsor Enviance, George Mason University, Michigan State University, Middlebury College, the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Washington round out the Environmental Eight schools that progressed from the previous round, the Sustainable 16. The schools will now be narrowed down further to determine the Finest Four, and ultimately the national champion.
The competition is timed to coincide with the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
The Environmental March Madness tournament was designed to evaluate colleges and universities on environmental degree programs and curriculum, environmental opportunities for students and campus sustainability efforts. To move on to the Environmental Eight, the Sustainable 16 were evaluated on their initial survey, as well as the second round of supplementary essays, videos and photos submitted by students and faculty. In total, the Sustainable 16 submitted more than 800 photos, 150 essays and 30 videos.
Environmental initiatives enacted by the eight colleges include Middlebury College’s bid to become carbon neutral by 2016, and the University of California Santa Barbara joining Southern California Edison and The Climate Registry’s Cool Planet Program as it targets carbon neutrality by 2050.
Tournament prizes include a $5,000 grant for the winning school as well as one all-expenses-paid trip to San Diego for a faculty member to attend and speak at the Enviance User Conference in April. Additionally, two students from the Finest Four will win Google Nexus tablets.
Last year’s tournament, which was co-sponsored by Environmental Leader, was won by Colby College, a school of 1,800 students in Waterville, Maine. The college has run an environmental studies program for four decades. The program received an award of $5,000 in recognition of the win.