To rate your institution, as yourself these same questions...
What is the percentage of food expenditures that go toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food?
"Purchasing local and especially local organic food provides healthier dining options for students, local economic support and reduced global warming and pesticide pollution. And it's just one example of how what's good for you is good for the community and the planet."
Does the school offer programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing/renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students?
"It's simple: Do you want to go to a school that forces you to drive everywhere and spend twenty minutes looking for a parking spot in hazy air or somewhere that makes it easy for you to get around and enjoy a clean campus without the hassle and cost of a car? By providing public or shared transportation that increases access, schools can improve the college experience while reducing pollution"
Does the school have a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus?
"Opportunities for involvement in key school decisions mean that you can both improve school quality of life and get valuable experience for your career. Even if you're not on the committee, you and your peers can get involved in the student groups that participate in the process and have a voice. And schools with an inclusive approach, with participation from administration to faculty and staff to students, ensure more dynamic, long-lasting solutions."
Are new buildings are required to be LEED Silver certified or comparable?
"Building according to high LEED standards means more fresh air, natural light and fewer toxics. Studies show improved health, better classroom experience and reduced energy costs over the long term. The LEED rating program provides a credible, respected measure of building energy efficiency and environmental design for schools to build sustainable structures."
What is a school's overall waste diversion rate?
"It boils down to this question: piles of trash outside the dorm and dining hall or less waste and lots of easy recycling bins? A waste diversion rate measures both reduction in waste output and a school's rate of recycling."
Does the school have an environmental studies major, minor or concentration?
"Students want to get good jobs and lead responsible lives, lives that make a positive difference for society. To do that, undergrads need access to environmental studies courses that provide an understanding of how the global ecosystem works and prepare you for future opportunities. Even if you don't major in environmental studies, a school's commitment to the field means you have more course options to ensure you get the background you need."
Does the school have an 'environmental literacy' requirement?
"Environmental literacy is becoming a core necessity, regardless of career of interest, as companies are increasingly asking employees to consider the bigger picture. Working as an economist or in the business sector? You'll need to look at the price of carbon. Entering the computer science field? You'll have to think about reducing energy use. Designing buildings? Know the wood that has the least environmental impact and think about where the trash goes."
Has the school produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80% greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets?
"Climate change will affect every aspect of our lives. Leading climate scientists say that a minimum of 80% reductions in carbon emissions mid-century will be necessary to avert the worst impacts of climate change. A school that has an inventory and a plan is not only taking responsible action, it is more likely to have the experience to deliver the training you need for your life and your career."
What percentage of the school's energy consumption, including heating/cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable resources (this definition included 'green tags' but not nuclear or large scale hydro power)?
"No school will be able to reduce its energy consumption to zero. But every university can make sure that the energy they do use is healthier for students and the planet by being clean and renewable. So in addition to efficiency improvements and conservation efforts that cut energy use, campuses should make sure the remaining power they do use comes from renewable sources."
Does the school employ a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer?
"Ensuring a school is healthy for students and for the planet takes focused and continuous attention. Schools that are serious and sincere about sustainability simply can't succeed without hiring professionals to coordinate campus-wide efforts that improve the student experience."
Colleges that did not supply answers to a sufficient number of the questions for us to fairly compare them to other schools receive a Green Rating of 60*. The schools have an opportunity to update their sustainability data every year and will have their ratings re-calculated and published annually.
All italicized quotations are from Jared Duval, Senior Fellow for ecoAmerica and former National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition.