The Sierra Club has released its latest rankings of the “greenest” colleges and universities in the United States, titled “Cool Schools 2015.” The University of California fares extremely well in that survey, with four of its campuses placing in the top 10 of the Sierra Club poll. U.C. Irvine nabbed the top spot in the rankings, while U.C. Davis placed second. U.C. San Diego secured the seventh position in the survey, U.C. Berkeley tenth. The rankings are published in the Club’s magazine, Sierra, and this year evaluate a total of 153 U.S. college and university campuses.
According to the Sierra Club website, the “Cool Schools” competition is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Schools complete an extensive Sierra Club questionnaire about their campus sustainability practices. The survey, officially called the “Campus Sustainability Data Collector,” represents a collaboration between the Sierra Club, the Princeton Review, the Sustainable Endowments Institute and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Participating colleges and universities are ranked based on 11 enumerated criteria, including academics, energy consumption, investments, food, innovation, planning, purchasing practices, transportation policies, waste management and water use.
“Cool Schools 2015,” like the widely-circulated U.S. News and World Report college surveys, are of course subject to some criticism based on their particular ranking criteria and survey methodology. Nevertheless, the Sierra Club rankings provide an interesting and revealing window into the environmental sustainability practices of the nation’s top colleges and universities.
Kudos to the University of California, whose campuses–according to the Sierra Club–lead the U.S. when it comes to overall sustainability practices. And a special shout-out to U.C. Irvine and U.C. Davis–the two most environmentally sustainable university campuses in the nation, according to the Sierra Club.