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10 Green Colleges That You May Not Know About

By Trish Broome |
Hundreds of colleges across the U.S. are recycling, composting, rebuilding and conserving their way to LEED-certified status.

Hundreds of colleges across the U.S. are recycling, composting, rebuilding and conserving their way to LEED-certified status. Here are 10 of them!

Choosing a college based on how “green” it is never would have been a factor for a freshman 10 years ago. But as more students learn about the environment and ways that they can protect it, more of them want to attend an institution that shares in their eco-friendly initiatives. The Princeton Review recently released its Guide to 286 Green Colleges, which ranks colleges in the U.S. based on their participation in the USGBC's LEED green building certification program, environmental literacy programs, sustainability committees, renewable energy resources and recycling/conservation programs. Over 700 schools were reviewed, but the 286 in the list ranked in the 80th percentile or higher for top green scores.

Most of us know about the well-known colleges that made the list like Yale, New York University, Harvard, Arizona State University and Oberlin, but what about those other lesser-known, but equally as green (or greener) colleges? There are plenty of them, like these 10 listed below. You may not know them now, but once you learn about their sustainable practices, you might want to enroll!

1. Agnes Scott College (Decatur, Georgia) – Bike Agnes Scott is a campus-wide bike program that allows students to rent “Purple Bikes” for free, or they can purchase a Fuji bike through the Fuji Bike Discount Program.

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Image: agnesscott.edu

2. Colby College (Waterville, Maine)Green dining is alive and well at Colby College! In 2008 Colby College implemented a “no tray” policy for its dining halls. This has saved the college over 79,000 gallons of water and 50 tons of food waste each year. Other green features of the dining halls include: getting food from over 72 local suppliers, growing produce and garlic on campus, removing all paper products and recycling fryer oil to be used as biodiesel fuel for tractors.

3. Barnard College (Manhattan, New York) – Recently built The Diana Center, a building that features a living green roof, low-flow water fixtures and skylights. The carpeting, countertops, stairs and tile inside of the building are all made from recycled or recyclable material.

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Image: barnard.edu

4. Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) – Duquesne was recently recognized (for the third time) as the Atlantic 10 Conference “Champion of Green Power.” The college was awarded this title by the EPA, who estimates that the college has the equivalent impact of reducing the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 2,000 passenger cars annually.

5. Goucher College (Baltimore, Maryland) – The Anthenaeum is a LEED silver certified, European-inspired building located on Goucher’s Baltimore City campus. It features a library, café, art gallery, community center and other rooms for its students. What’s so green about the building? It’s built with recycled materials, has two green roofs, uses solar water heating and saves water with its dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals.

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Image: designboom.com

6. Naropa University (Boulder, Colorado) – The Recycling & Zero Waste program at Naropa is all part of the school’s plan to become a fully sustainable campus. The program has put recycling bins in every classroom and has inspired a campus-wide food composting initiative. All bathroom paper towels are recycled, and now weekly trash audits are conducted to reduce campus waste.

7. Plymouth State University (Plymouth, New Hampshire) – Besides offering an awesome campus-wide recycling program, the school has created a detailed Climate Action Plan that hopes to get the entire campus carbon-neutral by 2050.

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Image: envirovantage.com

8. Rowan University (Camden, New Jersey) – The school has a few RU Green initiatives, but the coolest one is the cogeneration plant that produces electricity and steam for the campus. The plant creates enough electricity to power 1300 homes!

9. Suffolk University (Suffolk County, Massachusetts) – Some of Suffolk’s Green Dining Practices include: using biodegradable straws, cups and cutlery, composting hundreds of pounds of compost each week and offering 15 cents off beverage purchases for bringing a reusable mug.

10. Willamette University (Salem, Oregon) – Willamette’s Kaneko Commons is a LEED gold certified building that features suites and apartments for upper-class students. It has a rainwater reclamation reservoir that recycles water rainwater for toilets, and has photovoltaic panels on the roof to supply electricity throughout the building.

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Image: Willamette.edu

These are only 10 of the hundreds of colleges that are going green across the country. Do you know of any other small schools that are making a big impact on sustainability?

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  • Mary and Ronald G. 4 years ago
    I look forward to someday visiting Goucher and touring the Athenaeum (sadly knowing that I will not be able to re-visit my old favorite, the Julia Rogers Library, since the library is now in the Athenaeum).