The University California, Irvine (UCI) took the top spot as the greenest school in the United States for the second year in a row, according to the Sierra Club’s annual rankings of sustainable universities.
The school has a nationally-recognized energy efficiency program and, like the rest of the University of California system, has committed to going carbon neutral by 2025. UCI also offers a number engagement programs to educate students about climate change. The University of California, Davis, University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh, Colorado State University and Oberlin College round out the top five. Four of the top 10 are in California
“A school can’t place number one even if they’re doing amazing work sourcing their energy from [renewable] sources, if they don’t have a strong recycling program, if they’re not teaching students to be eco-literate,” said Avital Andrews, lifestyle editor at the Sierra Club’s magazine. “It’s a culture that permeates the school.”
The Sierra Club evaluates 200-page applications submitted by each school according to rubric that emphasizes a wide range of sustainability priorities. Andrews said the guide is intended to serve at least in part as a resource for high schoolers looking to attend a sustainable college.
“It’s educating the people who are going out and going to be leading the country pretty soon,” she said. “And if there’s not a strong culture of sustainability, it’s not going to be top of mind when they go out and live their lives.”