If you’re concerned with sustainability and protecting our planet, your choice of college can actually reflect those environmental values.

There are eco-friendly college campuses that make green living a priority in their design, academics and campus life. Here is a selection of the many green campuses for you to consider for your college list.

1. American University in Washington, D.C.

American University established a Green Teaching Certification Program that rewards professors for incorporating sustainability content into their lesson plans. They are committed to a sustainable campus with seven buildings that are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and solar thermal energy panels that provide hot water to the dorms and their largest dining hall.

2. Colby College in Waterville, Maine

Colby’s environmental studies program is one of the oldest in the United States, and it offers a partnership with Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, an ocean conservation research lab, where students get hands-on environmental science experience. The campus itself has a huge arboretum and most of it is actually considered a wildlife sanctuary.

3. College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine

No. 1 on The Princeton Review’s list of Top 50 Green Colleges, this school’s sustainability efforts are impressive. In the spring of 2013, it adopted an Energy Framework that uses local and renewable energy sources. There are classes focused on environmental work, and students from these classes installed solar panels and a wind turbine on campus. The college provides local and organic food thanks to its own organic farm 12 miles from campus. There are designated composting bins in the cafeteria and every single dorm, so food scraps are put to good use. The school also offers environmentally focused areas of study — their equivalent of majors — like Community Planning & Ecological Policy, Sustainable Business and Climate Change and Energy.

4. Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) measures the sustainability performance of colleges and universities, and CSU has the highest STARS score ever received. The university has 37 LEED Gold buildings, with several more pending certification. The school has a 30-acre solar plant that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 17 million pounds each year, as well as a compost and waste-to-energy program. It even has a tree nursery to reduce carbon monoxide and provide more greenery for Fort Collins.

5. Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

Cornell offers ample opportunities for students to learn about sustainability, with over 400 courses and 28 majors available through the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Cornell plans to be carbon-neutral by 2035 and has made a $46 million investment in energy conservation. Sixty-four percent of waste on campus is recycled or composted.

6. Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon

In addition to being located in one of America’s greenest cities, Lewis and Clark College requires all new buildings to be LEED Gold, and 100 percent of the electricity from the school is generated by green power sources. There are many ecocentric groups for students to get involved in — like SEED (Students Engaged in Eco-Defense), the Sustainability Council and SABER (Student Advocates for Business and Environmental Responsibility) — and almost half of the food served on campus is grown within 100 miles of the school. Its bike-sharing program not only offers bike rentals but also gives students access to safety gear, training and repairs.

7. Stanford University in Stanford, California

Stanford has allocated $485 million toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption and to meeting their energy needs through 2050. The school also boasts a recycling program that keeps about 65 percent of its solid waste from landfills, as well as an excellent transportation system that includes 23 fully electric buses, a commuter club, pretax passes on public transportation and a bike program.

8. State University of New York — College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York

SUNY-ESF is the only school in the United States with 100 percent of its academic programs oriented toward natural resources and designed environments. A percentage of its food budget goes to local and organic food, almost half of the university’s vehicles are powered with renewable fuels, and the university conducts more than $15 million of environmental and natural resource research annually. The school is also dedicated to becoming carbon-neutral.

9. Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina

Warren Wilson has a long-established campus farm that supplies local and organic food in the cafeteria. There’s an Environmental and Social Justice Crew which helps students support various social and environmental issues. Its residence halls were even built by student teams with wood that was repurposed or sustainably harvested. Those residence halls are outfitted with solar panel window awnings, solar thermal hydronic floor heating and a rainwater catchment system.

With eco-friendly schools like these, your college education can do more than make your personal future brighter, it can contribute to a brighter future for the entire planet.


Applying to college? We can help.
Start Here