Green Mountain College has been rated the #1 "Cool School by Sierra magazine, the official publication of The Sierra Club. Sierra magazine’s annual “Cool Schools” list recognizes colleges and universities that are creating tangible change in all categories of “greenness”—from what is served in dining halls, to what is taught in lecture halls, to what is powering the dorms. This year, Sierra rated 269 institutions in 19 categories and GMC shared the top score with University of California Irvine. This was the ninth consecutive year that GMC finished among the top 15 on Sierra’s list.
Sierra gave GMC the highest rating for academic programs that relate to sustainability. This category considers the number of sustainability courses, sustainability learning outcomes and sustainability-related majors.
According to Sierra, Green Mountain College earned this year’s “Cool Schools” top spot thanks in part to “aggressively working toward a new goal of powering its campus solely via renewable energy by 2020—with help from a student-initiated biomass facility and the purchase of carbon offsets from a landfill-gas-capture project. GMC has also tweaked its eco-centric core curriculum to better account for economic and environmental justice issues. New practicums have students examining the nexus of hunger, food, and homelessness in New York City and decorating the campus with a series of 'What Is Social Sustainability?' posters.”
This recognition by Sierra magazine is the latest recognition of Green Mountain College's leadership in sustainability. On August 22nd, the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) released its 2018 Sustainable Campus Index, an annual report recognizing top-performing institutions in various sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). GMC’s 2018 STARS Gold score of 81.82 is the highest score any college has achieved.
GMC’s highest ever total score was the result of its high scoring in several categories. GMC received the #1 score in sustainability-based curriculum, with the first ever perfect score awarded by AASHE. GMC also attained top ranking in the areas of Air and Climate Operations and Investment and Finance, and scored among the top 5 institutions for Energy and Research.
“Green Mountain College’s leadership in sustainability is due to the dedicated efforts of our students, staff, and faculty. For over twenty years, Green Mountain College has consistently provided leadership in advancing sustainability,” said Robert Allen, Green Mountain College President.
“Green Mountain’s strategic plan, Sustainability 2020, keeps us on the cutting edge of sustainability in academic programs and operations,” said Ryan Ihrke, Green Mountain College’s sustainability director. “This recognition confirms that GMC continues to serve as a model for campus sustainability while equipping the next generation of students with the skills they need to lead and make a difference in a world that is being transformed by climate change and social injustice.”
“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Green Mountain College has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”
Sierra’s complete 2018 rankings, with comprehensive descriptions of each school’s environmental efforts, are available at www.sierraclub.org/coolschools.
Green Mountain College’s full STARS report is publicly available at: https://stars.aashe.org/institutions/green-mountain-college-vt/report/2018-02-23/