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University Of California Tops List Of “Cool Schools”

The University of California in Irvine and Davis have placed first and second in the ninth annual “Cool Schools” ranking of America’s greenest colleges and universities.

Published by the Sierra magazine, the top 20 schools are ranked according to “a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility.”

A total of 153 schools filled out the Sierra Cool Schools survey, allowing the magazine to rank the universities based on their commitment to “upholding high environmental standards.”

“We’re so inspired to see how colleges are taking the lead on addressing climate change,” said Avital Andrews, Sierra magazine’s lifestyle editor. “From building green to saving water to offering hundreds of eco-classes, these schools’ efforts are profound, and are changing not only the campus grounds, but also the minds of the students they’re educating.”

Sierra magazine’s top 20 schools of 2015 are:

  1. University of California, Irvine
  2. University of California, Davis
  3. University of WisconsinOshkosh
  4. Colorado State University (Fort Collins, CO)
  5. Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)
  6. University of Connecticut   
  7. University of California, San Diego
  8. University of Washington, Seattle
  9. Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR)
  10. University of California, Berkeley
  11. University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
  12. Green Mountain College, (Poultney, VT)
  13. Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
  14. Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT)
  15. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  16. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
  17. College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, ME)
  18. University of California, Santa Barbara
  19. Colby College (Waterville, ME)
  20. Portland State University (Portland, OR)

UCIThe University of California, Irvine (UCI) has made it into the top 10 of the list six times in a row now, and this is the second time in a row it was won the rankings. The university can make the claim to three on-campus solar projects, a 19 MW turbine cogeneration plant, and energy-efficiency goals that are regularly exceeded.

“I’m so proud to see how UCI is leading the way in research, outreach and education addressing the causes of climate change and its possible solutions,” said Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost & executive vice chancellor. “We have some of the best minds in the world working on these critical issues.”

“The sustainability ethic permeates what we do in facilities and infrastructure,” added Wendell Brase, vice chancellor for administrative & business services. “And it goes beyond that. We pride ourselves on the many collaborations we have with researchers; the campus is a living laboratory.”

Sierra magazine highlighted “dining halls that serve organic, local foods; waste systems that divert trash away from landfills; transportation options that keep students and staff out of cars; academic programs that are heavily eco-focused; and strong methods in place to conserve water and energy” as other factors that were regularly a part of the top Cool Schools.

“Young people understand the need to confront climate disruption and jump-start our economy,” said Karissa Gerhke, National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition. “That’s why students across the country have joined the Sierra Student Coalition’s Seize the Grid campaign—demanding 100 percent localized clean energy on campuses. ‘Cool Schools’ is a showcase of campuses taking concrete steps toward those goals. We look forward to working with these schools in taking the next step and committing to 100 percent clean energy.”

All 153 schools who completed the survey can be viewed here, including their completed questionnaires.

Image Credit: Workers install solar panels atop the campus’s Student Center Parking Structure, one of many sustainability-related projects making UCI the nation’s top “Cool School” – again. via Chris Nugent/University of California, Irvine

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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.


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