Section Navigation

Appalachian places 18th in Sierra magazine’s green ranking

BOONE—Appalachian State University has placed 18th in Sierra magazine’s seventh annual ranking of America’s greenest colleges. According to a news release from the magazine, the ranking spotlights forward-thinking universities that are making a difference for the planet and emphasizing environmental responsibility.

The ranking appears in the magazine’s “Coolest Schools” ranking and recognizes Appalachian for helping solve climate problems, making significant efforts to operate sustainably and shaping future environmental citizens, workers and leaders.

“We are once again proud to be highlighted in Sierra magazine’s annual list of Coolest Schools,” said University Sustainability Director Ged Moody. “The Sierra Club has a rich history of promoting sustainability and related issues, so to be recognized in their list of top schools is indeed an honor and helps us know that we are on a good path. In reviewing the rankings and data submitted by colleges all across the nation, we are further inspired by the innovative and diligent work that is advancing sustainability within higher education.”

Sierra magazine examined academic institutions making a difference for the planet, seeking out campuses that are creating tangible change in all categories of greenness – from what’s served in dining halls to what’s taught in lecture halls to what’s powering the dorms.

“For the past seven years, Sierra magazine has ranked colleges and universities on their commitment to fighting climate disruption and making sure the future their students will inhabit has safe water, clean air and beautiful landscapes,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief. “By showing such strong leadership on so many fronts – from energy use and transportation to the courses they offer – the best of these schools are pointing the way for other institutions.”

According to information self-reported to the Sustainability, Tracking Assessment Rating System, Appalachian offered 141 sustainability-focused courses in 2011. One hundred and sixteen faculty out of 738 reported they were engaged in research related to sustainability.

Two buildings, Frank and Mountaineer residence halls, were LEED® certified in 2011. Six other buildings were designed and constructed in accordance with green building guidelines and policies but not LEED® certified at the time of the reporting period. Food Services on campus promoted a local food program in which 10 percent of its total purchases for the year was grown and processed within 250 miles of the university.

The university also recycled, composted, reused, donated, re-sold or otherwise diverted 1,279.24 tons of material from the waste stream.

To learn more about Appalachian’s sustainability program and activities, visit

Sierra magazine’s top 10 schools for 2013 are:

  1. University of Connecticut
  2. Dickinson College
  3. University of California, Irvine
  4. University of California, Davis
  5. Cornell University
  6. Green Mountain College
  7. Stanford University
  8. Georgia Institute of Technology
  9. American University
  10. University of California, Santa Barbara

Also listed were:

  1. Oregon State University
  2. University of Washington, Seattle
  3. University of Maryland, College Park
  4. University of New Hampshire
  5. Harvard University
  6. Emory University
  7. Evergreen State College
  8. Appalachian State University
  9. Lewis and Clark College
  10. University of California, San Diego

The University of Connecticut, Sierra’s No. 1 school, stands out for offering more than 600 sustainability-related classes; for having reduced its water use by 15 percent since 2005; and for, over the past two years, having retrofitted 13 buildings to prevent emitting 2,640 annual tons of carbon dioxide. In addition, more than a quarter of the food served in dining halls is processed within 100 miles, with many ingredients harvested right on campus. UConn’s first appearance on Sierra magazine’s “Coolest Schools” list was in 2010, at number 49.

In addition to featuring Sierra’s data-based rankings, the magazine’s September/October issue includes an array of stories that examine whether colleges’ sustainability efforts really make a difference when students graduate. Such pieces include “Aha Moments,” which profile three people whose lives were forever changed for the greener because of a moment (or a person) in college and “The Measure of an Education,” by Pulitzer winner Edward Humes, in which readers learn how schools are starting to gauge whether steeping students in environmentalism truly does create a more sustainable world.

Exclusively online is a video made by the Sierra Club’s “Best Interns,” sent on assignment to document the behind-the-scenes goings on of the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a biannual contest during which students build futuristic solar-powered houses. Also available online is a list of the most coveted eco-scholarships, plus Sierra’s annual “20 Days of Giveaways” sweepstakes.

The complete rankings, along with this year’s coverage of higher education’s environmental efforts, are online at

About Sierra magazine

Sierra is the official publication of the Sierra Club, America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit