Whether you’re looking for a career in sustainability or a greener campus living experience, it all starts with choosing a school committed to those same values. We’ve rounded up the five most sustainable colleges in the U.S., where you can pursue a green lifestyle alongside your degree.
1. Colorado State University
Colorado State was the first school in the world to earn a Platinum rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s STARS program. It’s easy to see why. This greenest of green colleges:
- Uses solar power to heat and cool its buildings.
- Diverts 93 percent of campus dining waste away from landfills.
- Is on track to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Colorado State truly cemented its status as the most sustainable college in the U.S. thanks to its faculty’s pioneering research in sustainability-related fields ranging from clean-burning engines to climate monitoring.
Green Majors at Colorado State University
Colorado State offers many majors directly related to sustainability, including:
- Environmental Engineering.
- Soil and Crop Science.
- Natural Resource Economics.
2. University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut makes the list for its incredible efforts to engage its entire student body in becoming a greener campus. Some of its initiatives include:
- The Give & Go Move Out, which keeps thousands of pounds of trash out of the waste stream each year by making it easy for students to donate items to local charities.
- Green Game Days, during which student volunteers “man the cans” and work the tailgates at sporting events to collect bottles and cans, and encourage Husky fans to recycle.
- EcoMadness, a month-long competition to see which dorm building can conserve the most water and electricity.
On top of that, 23 campus buildings are LEED-certified, in accordance with UConn’s LEED Gold policy for all new construction. The university has also appointed a Director of Environmental Policy and a Sustainability Coordinator who oversee up to 10 student interns in implementing further green building and sustainability initiatives.
“Sustainability and environmental stewardship are part of the culture at UConn, beginning with our land and sea grant tradition, to our beautiful rural surroundings amidst 4,000 acres of Connecticut forest and farmland, to our excellent environmental and sustainability-related academic programs. Living green is second nature at UConn.”
Richard A. Miller, Esq. | Director, Environmental Policy, University of Connecticut
Green Majors at the University of Connecticut
You’ll find a range of environmentally friendly majors at the University of Connecticut, including:
- Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Environmental Sciences.
- Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems.
3. Colby College
Colby College ranks as one of the country’s greenest colleges thanks to its constant search for innovative ways to lower its environmental impact. In fact, the school achieved carbon neutrality in 2013 due to initiatives like:
- Reducing its oil consumption by nearly 1 million gallons annually through the use of a wood-fueled biomass boiler.
- Using over 5,000 solar panels to meet 33,000 kilowatt-hours of its yearly electricity needs.
- Achieving LEED-certification for 12 buildings and counting.
In its award-winning Environmental Studies Program, Colby College also gives its students the opportunity to work directly with faculty researching a wide range of environmental issues.
Green Majors at Colby College
Aside from Environmental Studies, Colby College offers several other sustainability-related degrees, including:
- Environmental Policy.
- Environmental Science.
- Ecology and Evolution.
4. Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University has created an impressively green college environment by making sustainability a way of life even outside of the classroom. Students and staff have several practical opportunities to participate in a green lifestyle, which has resulted in:
- A unique program allowing students to compost at their residence halls.
- Seventeen percent of all commuters choosing to purchase a carbon offset alongside their parking passes each semester.
- A 74 percent waste diversion rate during football season, thanks to student-staffed “Zero Waste Zones” throughout the stadium.
Appalachian State also boasts the widest range of renewable energy facilities in North Carolina, which produce 800,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every year.
Green Majors at Appalachian State University
At Appalachian State, you can earn a degree in a number of environmentally focused majors, including:
- Sustainable Building Systems.
- Environmental Economics and Policy.
- Community and Regional Planning.
5. University of Washington
The University of Washington prides itself on using its campus as a “living laboratory” by offering grants to students or other members of the university family with ideas for reducing the school’s environmental impact. Some of these living laboratory projects include:
- A system of green walls at the College of Built Environments to reduce energy use and promote biodiversity.
- Floodplain restoration initiatives within UW Bothell’s North Creek Wetlands.
- Field research into salmon ecosystems at the School of Aquatics and Fishery Sciences.
The university also earns its sustainable stripes thanks to its engaged student body, who have created 40 different campus groups directly involved with sustainability efforts.
“We are proud that UW has been recognized for our commitment to sustainability. The Campus Sustainability Fund models the innovation we need to advance sustainability into our educational mission and operations, which has been catalyzed by the passion and pioneering spirit of our students. Sustainability unites us towards working to solve grand challenges.”
Claudia Frere-Anderson | Director, UW Sustainability
Green Majors at the University of Washington
Environmentally conscious students can find plenty to study at the University of Washington, including:
- Civil and Environmental Engineering.
- Environmental Health.
- Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management.
Planning to apply to one of these green colleges? Think your school should have made the list? Let us know in the comments. Check out the Green Living section of our blog for more tips on living sustainably.