The University of Connecticut in Storrs is the coolest college campus in the United States in terms of its commitment to sustainability and the environment. That’s according to the Sierra Club, which has issued its seventh-annual list of America’s Coolest Schools.
Among the University of Connecticut’s achievements in promoting sustainability: reducing water use on campus by 15 percent since 2005; retrofitting 13 buildings to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,640 tons a year; eliminating trays from dining halls; and having more than a quarter of the food served to students processed within 100 miles of the campus.
The other institutions recognized by the Sierra Club, and some of the green efforts on their campuses:
2: Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.: The school buys enough wind power to offset all electrical needs on campus. Grease collected from local restaurants is converted to biodiesel fuel that is used to power the college’s vehicle fleet. Paper use on campus has fallen by 60 percent over the last four years.
3: University of California, Irvine: A 19-megawatt cogeneration facility and other energy-preserving projects have helped the school save 20 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year since 2009. Solar panels generate enough power to run 500 homes for a year. All new buildings on campus must be certified at least LEED silver.
4: University of California, Davis: The university’s climate action plan has reduced campus emissions to below year-2000 levels. West Village, a neighborhood for students and staff, is the nation’s largest planned zero-net-energy community. .Recycling, composting and reuse divert more than 60 percent of would-be trash from landfills. 5: Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.: Greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 25 percent in the last two years, and the university plans to spend $45 million in the next five years on energy-conservation projects. The campus has a 35-acre botanical garden and a 100-acre arboretum.
6: Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vt.: It is one of the first higher-education institutions in the United States to achieve climate neutrality. A $5.8 million biomass plant burns locally sourced woodchips instead of fuel oil and heats 85 percent of the buildings on campus.
7: Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.: The university is building an energy facility that will cut carbon dioxide emissions on campus in half and water use by about a fifth; three dozen green-themed student clubs have been formed, and recycling and composting efforts enable the institution to divert more than 66 percent of its waste from landfills.
8: Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta: All buildings constructed after 2008 are LEED-certified; a 1.4 million-gallon cistern collects stormwater and reduces water use on campus; and the campus has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of the “best places for commuters” because of its carpooling efforts and use of natural-gas powered buses.
9: American University, Washington, D.C.: 30 buildings on campus are on track for LEED silver certification; a 27-kilowatt solar array provides alternative energy; and two-thirds of campus waste is diverted from landfills through a composting program and trayless dining.
10: University of California, Santa Barbara: 44 buildings that are LEED-certified; 94 percent of students take alternative means of transit to classes; and 75 percent of campus waste is diverted from landfills through recycling and composting.