The Princeton Review, today released its second annual Green Ratings of colleges.  In this measure of how environmentally friendly the institutions are on a scale of 60 to 99, the company tallied its Green Ratings for 697 institutions based on data it collected from the colleges in 2008-09 concerning their environmentally related policies, practices, and academic offerings.    The Princeton Review also named 15 colleges to its “2010 Green Rating Honor Roll” – a list that salutes the institutions that received the highest possible score – 99 – in this year’s rating tallies.

Criteria

The criteria for the green rating cover three broad areas:

1. Whether the school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable;

2.  How well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges, and;

3. The school’s overall commitment to environmental issues.  The institutional survey for the rating included ten questions on everything from energy use, recycling, food, buildings, and transportation to academic offerings (availability of environmental studies degrees and courses) and action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The Princeton Review developed its Green Rating criteria and institutional survey in 2007 with ecoAmerica.

The Princeton Review’s “2010 Green Rating Honor Roll”

This list, published in “The Best 371 Colleges,” salutes 15 institutions (eight private and seven public colleges) that received the highest possible rating score of 99.  It includes: (in alphabetical order)

  • Arizona State University at the Tempe campus – Arizona State University stands out on the Green Honor Roll for a number of reasons.  They established the School of Sustainability in 2007 it is the first of its kind in the US, offering a professional certificate as well as both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Tempe campus has the largest collection of energy-providing solar panels on a single U.S. university campus.  The School also provides a number of commuter programs. ASU offers car-sharing and a carpool program with special parking privileges.  It also subsidizes bus and light rail passes for all employee and students.
  • Bates College (Lewiston ME) – Much of Bate College’s environmental accomplishments are centered around food and its disposal. The new dining commons was built to LEED Silver equivalence. It is self-ventilated and uses 100 percent Maine renewable electricity. Eighty-two percent of Bates’ food waste is diverted from the waste stream, either recycled, composted, or sent to a food bank or pig farmer. Thirty percent of the college’s total food budget is spent locally. Bates has environmental theme houses, has a student bicycle co-op, a van pool program for employees, and was the first college in Maine to participate in the Zipcar program, which offers Prius cars to rent as needed, reducing the number of cars on campus.
  • Binghamton University (State Univ. of New York at Binghamton) – Binghamton either recycles or composts more than 90 percent of its current service ware. Approximately 2,500 pounds of compostable waste is collected around campus every year. The State University of New York at Binghamton campus encompasses almost 900 acres of land, of which a large proportion is undeveloped and in its natural state. The core of this undeveloped land is officially designated the Nature Preserve, and includes hiking trails and a 20 acre wetland.
  • College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor ME) – College of the Atlantic has been carbon neutral since 2007.  At the College of the Atlantic, all electricity comes from renewable hydropower; new buildings and some old are cleanly heated via renewable wood pellets.  The school’s one major, human ecology is focused on how humans relate to the environment and they are evolving the curriculum to include a new Trans-Atlantic Food Systems program and an undergraduate green and socially responsible business program.  The school’s partially wind powered farm (Beech Hill Farm) offers organic produce to campus, local schools and food banks.  All new buildings feature composting bins in the kitchens and composting toilets.
  • Colorado College (Colorado Springs CO)  – Colorado College has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 378 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and saved almost $100,000 in utility costs. The college dining service purchases food from the school’s organic garden when it is available and food waste from the dining service is used as compost. The school’s 25-kilowatt solar PV array is the largest in the Colorado Springs Utilities service area.
  • Dickinson College (Carlisle PA) –  Dickinson College established the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education in 2008 to integrate the environment and sustainability across the college curriculum.  Used fryer oil collected by students produces 1500 gallons of biodiesel annually for use in the college’s trash truck, lawn mowers, farm equipment and cars.  Over 800 lbs. of organic material and compostable tableware is sent to its organic farm every week.
  • Evergreen State College (Olympia WA) – The Evergreen State College, set on one thousand-acres of wetlands, beach, forests and trails uses that that setting to provide a broad range of courses ecology, organic agriculture, ethnobotany, visual arts, beekeeping, forest ecology, and ecological agriculture.  The school’s Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education has launched the Curriculum for the Bioregion.  It is an initiative that focuses on incorporating environmental and sustainability issues into general education college courses throughout the region. The Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship was recently launched by students to provide a vehicle for them to put their business skills to use in socially responsible ventures.  Many of Evergreen’s gasoline and diesel vehicles has been replaced with a fleet of electric cars. The  school has also reduced its landfill waste by more than 97,000 pounds since 2008 and 100 percent of the college’s electricity comes from renewable sources.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta) – Sustainability is a key component of Georgia Tech’s Campus Master Plan and Landscape Master Plan. Georgia Tech requires that all vendors provide green products and the school’s cleaning equipment uses 70 percent less water and 90 percent less chemicals than traditional equipment. Institute’s inaugural football game day recycling program collected nearly 12 tons of aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles from home game attendees.
  • Harvard College (Cambridge MA) – Harvard College is working to reduce emissions 30% below a 2006 baseline by 2016.   Sixty-two building projects are in process toward achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.   The school has had success with a number of sustainability initiatives which include a 55% recycling rate, a drive-alone rate of only 16.5, renewable energy projects on campus, composting in residential and commercial dining halls, and organic landscaping in Harvard Yard.
  • Middlebury College (Middlebury VT) – Middlebury College has the nation’s oldest undergraduate environmental studies program.  The school is on track to become carbon neutral by 2016 utilizing a combination of renewable fuels, conservation, efficiency measures, and carbon offsets. Middlebury operates a biomass gasification plant, which replaces one million gallons of fuel oil annually with sustainably produced wood. The plant generates steam for heating, cooling and electricity and reduces the college’s net carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent.
  • Northeastern University (Boston MA) – Northeastern’s new mixed-use dorm/office building, International Village will be the largest residence hall in the United States to meet LEED Gold certification once it is submitted for certification. Northeastern University began integrating energy conservation into its facilities management plans in the 1980s and recently replaced 70,000 traditional lamps with fluorescent lamps that will reduce carbon emissions by 686 tons annually. “Project Clean Plate”,the school’s  food composting initiative composted over 594 tons of dining hall service and catering food waste last year.
  • University of California – Berkeley – University of California–Berkeley has over 2000 energy efficiency initiatives launched designed to help it obtain its goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014.  Student projects have reduced energy consumption by over 8.5 million kWh and water usage by 3 million gallons.  The university’s primary food service operator was the first in the country to receive organic certification, and organic salad bars are now a staple at campus dining facilities.  Berkeley has more than 80 academic degrees, 90 research centers, and 25 student-run organizations with an environmental focus.
  • University of New Hampshire (Durham) – University of New Hampshire receives up to 85 percent of its electricity and heat from purified landfill gas from a nearby Waste Management landfill.  Earlier this year, the school became the first university in the nation to receive the majority of its campus energy needs from landfill gas.  University of New Hampshire also has the largest public transit system in New Hampshire, with most of its vehicles running on biodiesel and compressed natural gas.  The school has a growing focus on sustainable agriculture.    It has an organic dairy research farm and launched the EcoGastronomy dual major in 2008, integrating sustainable agriculture, hospitality management, and nutrition.   The university’s recent sustainable commencement featured speeches and honorary degrees focused on sustainability, programs printed on recycled paper electronically issued invitations were issued and porta-potties with environmentally friendly chemicals.
  • University of Washington (Seattle) – All new campus buildings at the University of Washington will meet at least the LEED Silver standard. The university also purchases power that is 100 renewable. The schools’s food services emphasize local organic foods and they are working toward a zero-waste goal, composting post-consumer waste, and offering compostable dishware and to-go packaging. The University of Washington is also now the pilot site for the first compostable paper cup designed specifically for soft drinks. The plastic used in this cup is made from plants, and could reduce by 150,000 the number of cups sent to local landfills.
  • Yale University (New Haven CT) – Yale University has implemented solar and wind projects to provide renewable energy. It also has its own co-generation power plant and is building another. Kroon Hall, the new home of its school of Forestry & Environmental Studies is a model of energy-saving design and is expected to earn a LEED Platinum certification. The Yale Sustainable Food Project directs a sustainable dining program, manages an organic farm and runs diverse educational programs.

“The ‘green’ movement on college campuses is far more than an Earth Day recycling project.  It is growing tremendously among students and administrators alike,” said Robert Franek, V.P.  and Publisher of The Princeton Review.

Franek noted the rising interest among students in attending colleges that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices.  Among almost 16,000 college applicants and parents of applicants The Princeton Review surveyed this year for its annual “College Hopes & Worries Survey,” 66% of respondents overall (and 68% of students vs. 59% of parents) said they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment – a 4% increase from last year’s respondents.    Among that cohort, 24% of respondents overall (26% of students vs. 18% of parents) said such information would “very much” impact their (their child’s) decision to apply to or attend the school.

The Princeton Review has dedicated a resource area on its website for students and others interested in learning more about the rating and the benefits of attending a green college.  The area has information on colleges with exemplary environmental programs, questions to ask on school visits, and links to organizations that promote higher education and campus sustainability programs.

It contains the following sections:

  1. Green Colleges and Quality of Life
  2. Green Colleges and the Economy
  3. Green Colleges and the School Visit
  4. Green Majors

Criteria for The Princeton Review Green Rating of Colleges

The Princeton Review tallied the Green Rating scores based on institutional data it obtained from the colleges during the 2008-2009 academic year in response to ten survey questions that asked:

1. The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food

2. Whether the school offers programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing/renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students

3. Whether the school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus

4. Whether new buildings are required to be LEED (environmental certification of equipment/appliances) Silver certified or comparable

5. The school’s overall waste diversion rate

6. Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration

7. Whether the school has an “environmental literacy” requirement

8. Whether the school has produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets

9. What percentage of the school’s energy consumption, including heading/cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable sources (this definition included “green tags” but not nuclear or large-scale hydropower)

10. Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.

Read more about the green rating methodology of the Princeton Review web site.

The Green Rating scores appear in the profiles of the 697 schools that The Princeton Review posted on its site, and in profiles of those schools in the 2010 editions of three Princeton Review books:  “The Best 371 Colleges”, “The Best Northeastern Colleges” , and “Complete Book of Colleges.”

RELATED RESOURCES:

College Sustainability Report Card
GreenReportCard.org is the first interactive website to provide in-depth sustainability profiles for hundreds of colleges in all 50 U.S. states and in Canada. Information is based on extensive research conducted for the College Sustainability Report Card. The Report Card is designed to identify colleges and universities that are leading by example in their commitment to sustainability. The aim is to provide accessible information for schools to learn from one another’s experiences, enabling them to establish more effective sustainability policies.

America’s Greenest Campus Competition
America’s Greenest Campus contest has recently announced that they will offer prizes totaling $20,000 to encourage college campuses to become more earth-friendly. The website is keeping track of which colleges got more people involved in the contest and which college reduced the most carbon emissions per participant. America’s Greenest Campus is a nationwide contest that enables colleges and universities to compete against each other in reducing their carbon footprints. The contest has support from the US Department of Energy and is designed to energize and engage our nation’s youth to combat global warming.

© 2009 – 2011, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.