CMC Makes Princeton Review’s “Guide to Green Colleges”

Academic fit, quality of life, and now”green fit.” A brand new guide just released by Princeton Review (in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council) profiles the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges and universities, with CMC among them. The guide uses a numerical score from 6099 for each institution that is based on several data points; Claremont McKenna scored a 93.

According to Princeton Review, the “Guide to 286 Green Colleges” is the first, free comprehensive guidebook focused solely on institutions of higher education that have demonstrated an above average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities, and initiatives.

(Download the free Guide: www.princetonreview.com/greenguide/, or www.usgbc.org/campus.)

What makes a school green? According to Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher, The Princeton Review, at least three things: a campus that is healthy and sustainable (this could mean anything from locally grown food at the dining hall to transportation alternatives for students and organically maintained landscaping); a school that is preparing its students for the emerging green economy (such as offering academic degrees in green subjects, “green” research opportunities, and helping grads find jobs in the growing, green market); and a school that is taking action to reduce its carbon footprint through such measures as the construction of new, LEED green buildings, the use of renewable energy resources, recycling and conservation programs, and formal committees dedicated to sustainability.

“Students and their parents are becoming more and more interested in learning about and attending colleges and universities that practice, teach, and support environmental responsibility,” Franek says. “According to our recent College Hope & Worries Survey, 64 percent of college applicants and their parents said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend it.”

“Beyond the cost savings to an institution, even the simplest aspects of a green campus, such as increased use of natural light, have been found to improve student learning and quality of life,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Green facilities make colleges more attractive to students and can dramatically reduce energy costs. Higher education is a top priority market segment for USGBC because graduates of green colleges become incredible drivers of change when they call for similar surroundings in their jobs and communities.”

Claremont McKenna has taken a number of steps over the past months and years toward greener living, through numerous activities and programs on campus. In 2007, it joined a national higher education initiative to address global warming. The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/news/pressreleases/article.asp?article_id=860), signed by President Pamela Gann, is a dual pledge to achieve climate neutrality on campuses and also to support the capability of society to do the same.

The College’s Board of Trustees that same year adopted a policy to design, build, and pursue certification of all new buildings at a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Silver” level or higher. (The recent opening of Claremont Hall was a move in that direction: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/news/pressreleases/article.asp?article_id=1151).

And not so insignificant, either, are all the different ways the campus itself has become increasingly green. To name but a few, the Roberts Environmental Center at CMC has given students the chance to participate in significant “green” research, collaborating with faculty, for instance, on the Pacific Sustainability Index (PSI)an index that is used to rate the environmental and sustainability reports of the world’s largest corporations.

In areas of daily life, the College launched a bicycle-loaner program (http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/news/pressreleases/article.asp?article_id=1270.) last fall, offering students an alternative to driving. And meals at Collins Dining Hall have been more environmentally minded for at least the past couple of years (http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/news/insidecmc/2008march/collins/). In addition to providing options for locally grown, organic foods, the dining hall last fall stopped offering food trays, which has cut back on the amount of food waste produced by the College and also the amount of water used by not having to wash them.

How the Schools Were Chosen

The Princeton Review chose the 286 schools included in the Guide based on the “Green Rating” scores the schools received in summer 2009 when The Princeton Review published Green Rating scores for 697 schools in its online college profiles and/or annual college guidebooks.

The Review’s “Green Rating” is a numerical score from 6099 that is based on several data points. In 2008, The Princeton Review began collaborating with USGBC to help make the Green Rating survey questions as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. Of 697 schools that The Princeton Review gave “Green Ratings” to in 2009, the 286 schools in the Guide received scores in the 80th or higher percentile.

The Princeton Review does not rank the schools in this book hierarchically (1 to 286) or in any of its books based on their “Green Rating” scores.