8 Great Eco Friendly Colleges

Sustainability and other eco-friendly strategies are more important than ever. From recycling to solar energy to lower carbon footprints, there are plenty of ways colleges have started to ramp up their approach to being “green.” So, what are some of the schools that are focusing more on green and eco-friendly solutions and strategies? Here are just eight great examples of eco-friendly colleges from all over the United States:

1. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Flickr user: Zach Mullen

The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill has an outstanding history of focusing on sustainability. They’ve been adding more and more energy-efficient buildings, improving hardware, reducing water use, and more. The university’s sustainability initiative, known as the Three Zeros Environmental Initiative, focuses on water neutrality, greenhouse gas neutrality, and zero waste. Since its beginnings in 2016, they have saved over 721 million gallons of potable water, reduced waste by using reusable mugs, and cut down on fuel consumption.

2. College of the Atlantic

Hidden Gems in the Northeast - College of the Atlantic

Wikimedia Commons user giggel (Note: Image is of Bar Harbor)

The College of the Atlantic is a very small school located in Bar Harbor, Maine. In the past few years they have focused on sustainability buildings, signed a Break Free From Plastic pledge, reduced their footprint, and involved students and staff in their efforts. They’re dedicated to helping students become environmental leaders and drive positive change for the globe. Students are also engaged in the classroom on environmental and social justice, conservation, food systems, zero waste, and more.

3. Iowa State University

Not sure which college to attend? Ask yourself these questions before making your final choice

Flickr user Max Goldberg

Located in Ames, Iowa, Iowa State University has one of the greenest campuses in the United States. Students, faculty, and staff all work on the “Live Green!” initiative that bolsters sustainable practices. The school educates those on campus about green programs, concepts, planning, and more. They regularly assess ways to bring more sustainability to their buildings while also ensuring graduates will carry the green message across the world.

4. Colorado State University

Source: Flickr user cronncc.

Colorado State University was actually the first green campus (Fort Collins) to receive platinum status from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System. The university has decreased water usage, cut down on waste thanks to the Rams Against Hunger “Food Recovery Program,” and encouraged eco-friendly travel for their students, faculty, and staff. CSU also has a bike-friendly campus and transit system, as well as charging stations for electric vehicles.

5. University of Virginia

Source: Flickr user marc_buehler.

The University of Virginia was actually named a Green Ribbon School by the US Department of Education. The Charlottesville school hosts a number of programs including Recycling and Waste Diversion, The Green Workplace Program, and the Green Living Program. The school has additional strategies in place for greenhouse gas and nitrogen footprint tracking, green buildings, and certification support. UVA also has 130 sustainability-related courses available to students and over 30 student groups dedicated to eco-friendly initiatives.

6. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Wikimedia Commons user DASonnenfeld

Located in Syracuse, New York, it’s no surprise that the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is dedicated to sustainability! The school and their students work towards solving complex sustainability challenges. They’re regularly named one of the greenest colleges in the United States and have a number of ongoing projects dedicated to research, waste management, energy, property control, and transportation. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is currently on track to meet the NYS target of energy use reduction by 2025, they’ve won the 2020 Recycling Leadership Award in the Education Category from NYSAR3, and recycled 98 tons between April 2020 and March 2021.

7. University of Maryland – College Park

Top 25 Best Public Colleges - University of Maryland College Park

Flicker user Bgervais

There are more than 20 student groups that focus on eco-friendly and sustainability initiatives at the University of Maryland – College Park. They are committed to the Climate Action Plan, sustainability-related research, and other initiatives. UMD’s net greenhouse gas emissions are down 62% compared to 2005, their transportation greenhouse gas emissions are down 85%, and they’ve registered 35 communities in Maryland (over 50%) to commit more to sustainability. The university also focuses on green cleaning, recycling, stormwater management, composting, and outreach efforts.

8. Arizona State University 

Source: Flickr user midiman.

Arizona State University, found in Tempe (and with a strong online program), offers a wide range of degrees for students interested in sustainability – they’re actually the first “school of sustainability!” The programs are focused on hands-on learning, internships, study abroad opportunities, volunteering, and various sustainability initiatives. The school encourages involvement from the whole student body. And in 2018, ASU started their Carbon Project which promotes planting trees, car-sharing, and electric vehicles.

These are only some of the top eco-friendly colleges across the United States. Many schools actually have sustainability programs in place and have details about their initiatives, goals, and progress on their websites.

If these schools don’t look right for you, use our college match tool to search other eco-friendly colleges that fit are a better fit for you — for FREE!


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