Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How did you decide which schools were included?
A: Participation in Sierra magazine's "Cool Schools" ranking is a voluntary opt-in process that is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. This year, campus administrators could participate by going to and completing an extensive questionnaire about their school's sustainability practices. Schools that submitted complete, updated data starting on June 2, 2013, or thereafter were eligible to be considered for the 2013 rankings.

Q: How many schools participated?
A: Sierra received 162 complete responses from qualified colleges.

Q: Did schools have to pay to participate?
A: There is no cost for participation.

Q: My school isn't listed. How can I encourage it to participate next year?
A: Contact your school's sustainability coordinator or public relations office and ask them to participate.

Q: How were schools scored? Can you describe your methodology?
A: We sure can! Check it out.

Q: Why do you rank schools on greenness?
A: We hope our annual ranking will act as a guide for prospective students who want to compare colleges based on their commitment to environmentalism. Our ranking also serves to spur productive competition between schools, create aspirational standards, and publicly reward the institutions that work hard to protect the planet.


Cool Schools 2013

The Top 10
The Complete Rankings

Do Green Schools Matter?
The Measure of an Education
The Liberal Arts Get Schooled
Students' Aha Moments
Solar Decathlon
Virtues of Virtual Learning
Filthy Lucre
Divestment: The Math
Training for a Trade