Green Colleges

| 6/26/2009 8:45:09 AM

College has consumed my brain this past week as my family and I drove up and down the East Coast in search of my dream liberal arts school. Our last stop was Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. On the tour, an outspoken girl grilled our tour guide about how the college is going green.  

Our guide told us the college is getting greener. Though average Wesleyan students enter with 4.0s on their report cards, Wesleyan’s green report card sports a B+ average. Wesleyan’s weak point? A “C” in transportation. Wesleyan uses four electric shuttles for transportation to the airport and around campus. Wesleyan is getting greener, though: Since March 2008 students have had access to an online carpooling site.

In my opinion, Williams College wins the top green college prize for creatively encouraging students to go green. Our tour guide explained to us that the chalk-inscribed phrase on the brick dorm walls that read “Do it in the Dark” was not a dirty college joke, (as a father on an earlier tour had angrily assumed) but rather, a catchy way to tell students to save energy. For a month, students tried to study, eat and socialize without flipping on a light switch. Williams, also struggling in the area of transportation, received a B+ average as well. 

These middle-of-nowhere selective colleges have a difficult time achieving an above average green transportation ranking because the airports are farther away. So who is getting the top ranks, anyway? 

Princeton Review provides a one-stop shop for college searchers by including the green rankings of every school in its overall profiles. Not surprisingly, Harvard and Yale made the cut for top green colleges. A large endowment may seem like a fast ticket to success, but these schools are not the only ones receiving high marks. The Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll acknowledges more than just the Ivies. Bates and Emory are among the eleven schools who received the highest green college rating (99 out of 100). Bates uses 28 percent of its food budget to buy local, natural and organic foods. Emory requires all of its new buildings to be LEED-certified and uses vegetable oil converted to biodiesel to fuel the campus buses. College of the Atlantic, harboring solely human ecology majors, received that ranking as well. 

The College Sustainability Report Card for 2009 is an excellent resource for researching green colleges. It awarded just five percent of the 300 colleges it surveyed an A- grade (talk about selective!). The green colleges report card ranks colleges based on specific categories such as green building, student involvement, food and recycling, transportation and investment priorities. 

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