America's Greenest Colleges: Did Your School Make the Grade?

09/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Today, we at Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, released our third annual list of the greenest U.S. universities. And while the good folks at U.S. News and World Report ascribe certain measurements of prestige to their college rankings, we rated schools based on what matters most to us, and what two-thirds of college applicants say matters to them too: how green a campus is.

The honors go to . . .

1. University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, Colorado)
2. University of Washington at Seattle (Seattle, Washington)
3. Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont)
4. University of Vermont (Burlington, Vermont)
5. College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine)
6. Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington)
7. University of California at Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, California)
8. University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, California)
9. University of California at Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)
10. Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)

For the rest of the list (we ranked 135), click here.

To determine the nation's most planet-preserving colleges and universities, we e-mailed a 10-page questionnaire to sustainability experts at hundreds of schools and combed through their responses. The survey covered eight categories: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, and administration. Schools could earn up to 10 points in each category, and up to 5 bonus points if they had additional or unique green initiatives. Then we normalized the scores to create an out-of-100 rating system.

After we selected the winning schools, we asked student journalists to write about what their campuses are doing right; click here to read those accounts. We also called out three that fail, highlighted those that got extra credit, discussed what athletics departments are (or aren't) doing to be responsible on game day, noted green efforts at community colleges, addressed the green-jobs situation for recent grads, and examined the suspension of coal on campus.

Eager to learn more? I explain things further during this interview on Sierra Club Radio.