Campus tops in U.S. for sustainability

SF State is among the nation’s leaders in campus sustainability according to two leading educational and environmental organizations. The campus earned spots on the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll and the Sierra Club’s “100 Coolest Schools” list.

A photo of students using the bike path on campus.

The creation of a bicycle and pedestrian path was among the campus collaborations that earned kudos in sustainable campus surveys. Credit: Gino De Grandis

SF State was one of only 16 universities to earn a perfect score and a place on the honor roll in Princeton Review’s fourth annual Green Ratings of Colleges. Scoring was based on surveys from 768 schools that measured each institution’s environmental friendliness in terms of education, waste disposal and emissions reduction.

The Sierra Club ranked 118 schools based on surveys completed, and focused criteria on the club’s most pressing priorities: energy efficiency, alternative transportation and waste management. This year, SF State ranked 29th on the Sierra Club’s list, a significant jump from 69th place last year.

“We’re so proud of these standings because they reflect robust progress at SF State,” said Caitlin Steele, campus sustainability programs manager. “Already we are seven percent below our 1990 greenhouse gas emissions and 72 percent of campus waste is now diverted from landfill.” Steele noted that key to SF State’s success was the early support of President Robert A. Corrigan, demonstrated by his signing of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. 

Sierra Club and Princeton Review evaluators recognized the focus of SF State’s Sustainability Committee on building collaborative projects that involve administrators, faculty, staff, students and vendors. The University received high marks for offering fair trade coffee in dining facilities, promoting a compost program and creating a path that links bike riders and pedestrians to nearby shopping and housing.

Curriculum and learning opportunities also factored in the rankings. SF State offers both a B.A. and B.S. in environmental studies and an MBA with an emphasis in sustainable business. In addition, the University offers a growing roster of classes that focus on sustainability in such disciplines as urban studies, political science, recreation, science, business, engineering, industrial design and fashion design. Many classes offer a community service-learning component that allows students to practice what they learn in the community and on campus. Environmental research opportunities for students are available at the University’s Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies and Sierra Nevada Field Campus.

A profile of SF State’s efforts and more information about the Green Honor Roll appear on the Princeton Review website and in the 2012 editions of “The Best 376 Colleges” and “Complete Book of Colleges.”

More information about the Sierra Club’s 100 Coolest Schools, including each school’s completed survey, is available on the Sierra Club’s website

Visit the Sustainable SF State website for more information about campus programs.

-- Denize Springer