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The Green Life: The 6 Most Environmentally Improved Colleges

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August 31, 2010

The 6 Most Environmentally Improved Colleges

Most improved colleges In the name of positive reinforcement, we applaud 6 surprise stars looking to increase their green GPA:

1. A year ago, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, had few eco-friendly initiatives and was committed to studying "clean coal." But after student activists rallied, university officials created a sustainability council, added native habitat, and agreed to offer organic food.

2. The University of Missouri completed a greenhouse-gas emissions report and added a sustainability office, which created an online energy "dashboard" that pits residence halls against one another in a contest to consume the least.

3. Appalachian State University, in North Carolina, staffed its new sustainability office with two full-time employees and five graduate assistants. A 100-kilowatt wind turbine also debuted, as did a solar heater that supplies 60% of the hot water for restaurants, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

4. Wisconsin's Lawrence University rearranged its academic calendar (it's now closed from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day) to reduce power consumption by 5%. Lawrence also cut food waste by banning trays from dining halls and christened a LEED gold-certified building.

5. Rochester Institute of Technology, in New York, spent millions to overhaul its energy system. It hosts a clean-energy incubator and a sustainability institute and held a "Greeks Go Green" contest to get fraternities and sororities to save energy.

6. Oregon's Portland State University adopted a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and opened a "learning-living" community where freshmen can immerse themselves in earth-friendly practices. 

To see Sierra magazine's ranking of America's top 100 green schools, click here.

--Kyle Boelte

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