Higher Education and Sustainability

West Michigan colleges rank among Sierra Club's 'Cool Schools'

August 21, 2013
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West Michigan college rank among Sierra Club's 'Cool Schools'
GVSU’s Sustainable Agriculture Project is a collaboration between students, faculty and staff to experience sustainable agriculture on the Allendale campus. Courtesy GVSU

Two West Michigan colleges have earned a place on Sierra Club’s 2013 “Cool Schools” rankings, thanks to their environmental practices.

Grand Valley State University ranks No. 40, and Aquinas ranks No. 79.

A total of 162 schools appear in Sierra Club’s national rankings.

“This ranking is an important one for Grand Valley and continues to place the university in the top echelon of sustainability rankings nationwide,” said Norman Christopher, director of Grand Valley’s Sustainable Community Development Initiative.

Green students

Sierra Club noted that spending four years at a Cool School leaves an imprint on students. Each institution employs various Cool School-type practices: it grows its own organic food, runs on alternative energy, composts, limits cars and pursues goals like becoming carbon neutral or zero waste.

Students from the institutions are more likely to continue the green practices throughout their lifetimes.

Methodology

Sierra Club has been ranking America’s greenest colleges for seven years now.

Schools complete an extensive questionnaire that asks everything from where the campus gets its energy to whether native plants are used in landscaping and if the cafeterias offer recycled napkins.

Researchers scored the data, with a perfect score being 1,000 points. The highest-ranking school, University of Connecticut, received 850 points — while GVSU earned 654.60, and Aquinas received 570.21 points.

Participation in Sierra Club magazine's Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the U.S.

Sierra Club ranked each school that responded.

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