Sierra magazine's "Coolest Schools" list has been updated since it was originally posted on August 16. Due to in-house mathematical errors, some schools were erroneously scored on the original list. The most significant adjustments apply to St. Olaf College (now number 79), Kalamazoo College (now number 112), University of Texas at Arlington (now number 151), Sewanee: The University of the South (now number 82), Penn State University (now number 80), and Furman University (now number 40). Twelve other schools had minor adjustments to their scores.
Poultney, VT | Score: 88.6
GMC excels in most categories, and it's the MVP when it comes to creativity. The campus gets power and heat from biomass and biogas (a.k.a. cow power) and plans to be carbon-neutral by next year.
Carlisle, PA | Score: 86.1
Dickinson integrates sustainability studies across its curricula, maintains a high-efficiency energy plant, and runs a hands-on biodiesel shop.
Olympia, WA | Score: 85.9
The student body's self-imposed clean-energy fee enables Evergreen to purchase renewable-energy credits for 100 percent of its electricity.
Seattle, WA | Score: 84.7
UW's annual solutions-oriented Environmental Innovation Challenge, which teams students from disparate departments, represents interdisciplinary eco-thinking at its best.
Stanford, CA | Score: 84.6
Stanford's $225 million Global Climate and Energy Project focuses on diverse cutting-edge technologies to help lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Irvine, CA | Score: 84.4
Incentives for alternative transportation minimize car commuting to UCI, even though it's in SUV-obsessed Orange County.
Ashland, WI | Score: 83.2
Northland's 12-year-old, pre-LEED McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center has composting toilets, low-flow water fixtures, solar panels, and a wind turbine.
Cambridge, MA | Score: 82.8
America's oldest college invests in the future with a revolving fund that loans money for recycling and solar projects. Payback comes in the form of efficiency savings.
Bar Harbor, ME | Score: 82.5
A sustainable-business curriculum and an affiliated "venture incubator" encourage eco-entrepreneurs.
Amherst, MA | Score: 82.4
Hampshire's responsible-investing committee, one of the oldest in the country, aims to make the school's endowment benefit the environment.
Santa Cruz, CA | Score: 82 | The UCSC Banana Slugs have an
impressive 73 percent waste-diversion rate and plan to reach 100 percent by 2020.
Middlebury, VT | Score: 82 | A team of ambitious undergrads
made the finals of the prestigious, tech-heavy 2011 Solar Decathlon, a notable feat for a small liberal-arts school.
Boulder, CO | Score: 81.9 | A national environmental leader, CU Boulder is the home of the influential Center of the American West, a think tank that addresses Western land and energy issues.
Asheville, NC | Score: 81.8 | Warren Wilson gets more than a third of its food from farms within 500 miles of campus--including from its own six-acre organic garden.
San Diego, CA | Score: 81.6 | UCSD's dining halls offer "Meatless Mondays" to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. No matter what day it is, 35 percent of the school's cafeteria food is organic.
Davis, CA | Score: 81.2 | Davis students can learn ecologically
viable farming methods by majoring in sustainable agriculture and food systems.
Burlington, VT | Score: 81.2 | Over the past decade, UVM has cut its number of car commuters by half, thanks to incentives for students who use alternative transportation.
Atlanta, GA | Score: 81 | Georgia Tech has a full-time alternative-transportation manager and is constructing a million-gallon cistern to reduce its stormwater runoff by 30 percent.
Philadelphia, PA | Score: 80.7 | By awarding grants to faculty and students for innovative sustainability proposals, Penn spurs competition to help execute its climate action plan.
New York, NY | Score: 80.6 | NYU plans to install a 6,500-square-foot green roof atop its 11-story Stern School of Business, in Greenwich Village.
The Rest of the Best
- Cornell University
- Colorado College
- Pomona College
- Oberlin College
- Oregon State University
- Portland State University
- University of California, Los Angeles
- Yale University
- Princeton University
- Smith College
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of New Hampshire
- Arizona State University
- Marlboro College
- University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
- Brown University
- Macalester College
- University of California, Merced
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
- Furman University
- Colorado State University
- Emory University
- Washington University in St. Louis
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
- Bowdoin College
- University of Michigan
- Western Washington University
- University of Connecticut
- Boston University
- Wellesley College
- Willamette University
- Villanova University
- Duke University
- Pacific Lutheran University
- DePaul University
- George Washington University
- Naropa University
- Seattle University
- Williams College
- University of Louisville
- Northern Arizona University
- Bard College
- Carnegie Mellon
- Sterling College
- Dartmouth College
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Binghamton University
- University of La Verne
- San Francisco State University
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- Whitman College
- Colby College
- Case Western Reserve University
- Point Loma Nazarene University
- Western State College of Colorado
- Lewis & Clark College
- Swarthmore College
- St. Olaf College
- Penn State University
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Sewanee: The University of the South
- Humboldt State University
- Drexel University
- University of Florida
- Mills College
- Elon University
- Hamilton College
- University of Idaho
- Amherst College
- Appalachian State University
- Metropolitan State College of Denver
- Hobart and William Smith Colleges
- Allegheny College
- University of Missouri-Kansas City
- Central Michigan University
- University of Georgia
- Bentley University
- Southern Oregon University
- Knox College
- Montclair State University
Complete rankings of all 162 schools
This article has been corrected.
Illustration by Aesthetic Apparatus