Winner: Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vt.
Vermont's Green Mountain College was named the greenest school in the nation in 2010 by the Sierra Club's "Coolest Schools" survey, thanks to advancements in its food service, transportation, purchasing, energy and academics. The school also has an innovative new heat and power biomass plant and participates in a local "Cow Power" (waste energy) program. Green Mountain received a score of 98 out of 99 in the Princeton Review's 2011 college green rankings.
People's Choice: Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, N.C.
In late 2010, Warren Wilson College near Asheville, N.C., was awarded the inaugural Second Nature Award for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership from the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment. In addition to its institutional commitment to reducing impact, the small school requires all students to work on campus and to complete community service, much of which focuses on sustainable projects. For example, student organic farmers raise 10% of produce and 80% of beef served in the dining hall. Other students work on biodiesel, recycling and waste management.
Learn more about our 2011 Heart of Green Award winners!
About the Nominees
Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.
Named after a pair of industrialist brothers who were in the mason jar business, Ball State University in Indiana earned an overall grade of C+ from the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card, although we feel it deserves recognition for its ambitious construction of one of the country's largest geothermal heating and cooling systems. As a result, Ball State aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 50% from 2007 levels by 2014, and will stop using coal on campus.
Berea College, Berea, Ky.
Scoring the highest in Kentucky and among the highest in the Southeast, Berea College earned a B+ from the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card, published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. Berea students attend tuition free (all must also serve part-time campus jobs, many of them green). About 100 Berea students live in a pioneering Ecovillage, and the campus is home to Kentucky's first LEED-certified hotel. Berea is working to reduce greenhouse gases and spends 10% of its food budget locally.
College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine
A small school on the bucolic coast of Maine, College of the Atlantic has had sustainability baked into its bones since its founding in 1969. The college offers only one major: "human ecology," an interdisciplinary examination of our impact on the planet. In 2009, COA students installed a small wind turbine at the college's organic farm, and the school recently installed waterless composting toilets. The newest residential center, Kathryn W. Davis Village, is a model of green design. Collage of the Atlantic is the first carbon neutral U.S. college, thanks to high efficiency, hydropower, a wood pellet boiler and some offsetting.
Northland College, Ashland, Wisc.
Billing itself as "The Environmental Liberal Arts College," Northland has had a dedicated focus on the planet since 1971, although the college was founded in the late 1800s. This past summer, the school hosted the Midwest Regional Collaborative for Sustainability Education Conference. Northland's many environmental studies majors learn from the campus's two wind towers, solar panels, geothermal system, straw bale demonstration energy lab, and McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center, which served as a prototype for the LEED standards. More recently, Northland committed to LEED Silver status for all new buildings and renovations.
- Brian Clark Howard