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COOL SCHOOLS | The Top 100

Sierra magazine's "Coolest Schools" list has been updated since it was originally posted on August 16. Due to in-house mathematical errors, some schools were erroneously scored on the original list. The most significant adjustments apply to St. Olaf College (now number 79), Kalamazoo College (now number 112), University of Texas at Arlington (now number 151), Sewanee: The University of the South (now number 82), Penn State University (now number 80), and Furman University (now number 40). Twelve other schools had minor adjustments to their scores.

Sierra Magazine's 100 Cool Schools

Green Mountain College
Poultney, VT | Score: 88.6
GMC excels in most categories, and it's the MVP when it comes to creativity. The campus gets power and heat from biomass and biogas (a.k.a. cow power) and plans to be carbon-neutral by next year.

Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA | Score: 86.1
Dickinson integrates sustainability studies across its curricula, maintains a high-efficiency energy plant, and runs a hands-on biodiesel shop.

Evergreen State College
Olympia, WA | Score: 85.9
The student body's self-imposed clean-energy fee enables Evergreen to purchase renewable-energy credits for 100 percent of its electricity.

University of Washington
Seattle, WA | Score: 84.7
UW's annual solutions-oriented Environmental Innovation Challenge, which teams students from disparate departments, represents interdisciplinary eco-thinking at its best.

Stanford University
Stanford, CA | Score: 84.6
Stanford's $225 million Global Climate and Energy Project focuses on diverse cutting-edge technologies to help lower carbon dioxide emissions.

University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA | Score: 84.4
Incentives for alternative transportation minimize car commuting to UCI, even though it's in SUV-obsessed Orange County.

Northland College
Ashland, WI | Score: 83.2
Northland's 12-year-old, pre-LEED McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center has composting toilets, low-flow water fixtures, solar panels, and a wind turbine.

Harvard University
Cambridge, MA | Score: 82.8
America's oldest college invests in the future with a revolving fund that loans money for recycling and solar projects. Payback comes in the form of efficiency savings.

College of the Atlantic
Bar Harbor, ME | Score: 82.5
A sustainable-business curriculum and an affiliated "venture incubator" encourage eco-entrepreneurs.

Hampshire College
Amherst, MA | Score: 82.4
Hampshire's responsible-investing committee, one of the oldest in the country, aims to make the school's endowment benefit the environment.


11. [Tie] University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA | Score: 82 | The UCSC Banana Slugs have an impressive 73 percent waste-diversion rate and plan to reach 100 percent by 2020.

11. [Tie] Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT | Score: 82 | A team of ambitious undergrads made the finals of the prestigious, tech-heavy 2011 Solar Decathlon, a notable feat for a small liberal-arts school.

13. University of Colorado, Boulder
Boulder, CO | Score: 81.9 | A national environmental leader, CU Boulder is the home of the influential Center of the American West, a think tank that addresses Western land and energy issues.

14. Warren Wilson College
Asheville, NC | Score: 81.8 | Warren Wilson gets more than a third of its food from farms within 500 miles of campus--including from its own six-acre organic garden.

15. University of California, San Diego
San Diego, CA | Score: 81.6 | UCSD's dining halls offer "Meatless Mondays" to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. No matter what day it is, 35 percent of the school's cafeteria food is organic.

16. [TIE] University of California, Davis
Davis, CA | Score: 81.2 | Davis students can learn ecologically viable farming methods by majoring in sustainable agriculture and food systems.

16. [TIE] University of Vermont
Burlington, VT | Score: 81.2 | Over the past decade, UVM has cut its number of car commuters by half, thanks to incentives for students who use alternative transportation.

18. Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA | Score: 81 | Georgia Tech has a full-time alternative-transportation manager and is constructing a million-gallon cistern to reduce its stormwater runoff by 30 percent.

19. University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA | Score: 80.7 | By awarding grants to faculty and students for innovative sustainability proposals, Penn spurs competition to help execute its climate action plan.

20. New York University
New York, NY | Score: 80.6 | NYU plans to install a 6,500-square-foot green roof atop its 11-story Stern School of Business, in Greenwich Village.

The Rest of the Best

  1. Cornell University
  2. Colorado College
  3. Pomona College
  4. Oberlin College
  5. Oregon State University
  6. Portland State University
  7. University of California, Los Angeles
  8. Yale University
  9. Princeton University
  10. Smith College
  11. University of California, Berkeley
  12. University of New Hampshire
  13. Arizona State University
  14. Marlboro College
  15. University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
  16. Brown University
  17. Macalester College
  18. University of California, Merced
  19. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  20. Furman University
  21. Colorado State University
  22. Emory University
  23. Washington University in St. Louis
  24. University of California, Santa Barbara
  25. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  26. Bowdoin College
  27. University of Michigan
  1. Western Washington University
  2. University of Connecticut
  3. Boston University
  4. Wellesley College
  5. Willamette University
  6. Villanova University
  7. Duke University
  8. Pacific Lutheran University
  9. DePaul University
  10. George Washington University
  11. Naropa University
  12. Seattle University
  13. Williams College
  14. University of Louisville
  15. Northern Arizona University
  16. Bard College
  17. Carnegie Mellon
  18. Sterling College
  19. Dartmouth College
  20. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  21. Binghamton University
  22. University of La Verne
  23. San Francisco State University
  24. Rochester Institute of Technology
  25. Whitman College
  26. Colby College
  27. Case Western Reserve University
  28. Point Loma Nazarene University
  1. Western State College of Colorado
  2. Lewis & Clark College
  3. Swarthmore College
  4. St. Olaf College
  5. Penn State University
  6. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  7. Sewanee: The University of the South
  8. Humboldt State University
  9. Drexel University
  10. University of Florida
  11. Mills College
  12. Elon University
  13. Hamilton College
  14. University of Idaho
  15. Amherst College
  16. Appalachian State University
  17. Metropolitan State College of Denver
  18. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  19. Allegheny College
  20. University of Missouri-Kansas City
  21. Central Michigan University
  22. University of Georgia
  23. Bentley University
  24. Southern Oregon University
  25. Knox College
  26. Montclair State University

Complete rankings of all 162 schools

This article has been corrected.

Illustration by Aesthetic Apparatus




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