Students across America have been back in school for at least a few weeks and are embarking on college visits and on-site presentations at high schools. There are many aspects to consider when college shopping with your teen. School reputation and price may rank among the top concerns for parents, but a growing number of colleges are attempting to court voters by promoting their eco-conscious campuses and sustainability plans. Look beyond the ornate courtyard and manicured landscape and delve a bit deeper to discover the college's "green" level.
Top 5 "Green" Colleges in America
* Evergreen State College in Washington focuses heavily on sustainability projects and provides campus food service with produce from the on-site organic farm. A college compost reactor is at the heart of the Earth-friendly attributes of the school. Students and employees dump food scraps into worm bins placed near all of the residence halls. A student approved fee increase allowed Evergreen State College to convert to totally "green" power sources to fuel the campus exterior area and buildings.
* Middlebury College in Vermont is known for student environmental activism. The MiddShift group was instrumental in getting the college to approve a schoolwide carbon neutral plan be put into place by 2016. Eco-conscious contests routinely hosted on student dorms include energy savings events and awards for increased use of public transportation. The college is also active in the Climate Summer Campaign held in New Hampshire.
* Oberlin College in Ohio may be small but offers a mighty punch when it comes to "green" reality based education. An online monitoring system in student dormitories monitors exactly how much water and energy is used. The Web-based system demonstrates to students they are living up to their energy conscious potential or becoming gluttons while away from home. In 2000 the college opened a "green" building to house the environmental studies program. The college also offers a car-sharing programs to urge students to reduce their carbon footprint when traveling around town. Oberlin is a leader in solar energy usage among small colleges and is in the process of switching to only eco-conscious cleaning products.
* California State University at Chico is dedicated to increasing sustainability efforts on campus and boasts multiple LEED-certified structures and rooftop solar arrays. Student commitment to "green" initiatives is evidenced by bringing home the grand prize in the National Wildlife Federation's Chill Out contest and multiple earth-friendly service projects on campus and in the community.
* Green Mountain College in Vermont incorporates campus eco-friendly efforts into the academic curriculum. The small liberal arts college offers a host of "green" courses and degrees. The college is powered primarily by methane courtesy of nearby dairy farms. Green Mountain College earned top honors at the first Energy Star Showcase Campus award organized by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1999.