The Sierra Club surveyed schools for the fourth year, asking 11 pages worth of questions about their sustainability efforts. You can find the questionnaire and the scoring methodology at sierraclub.org/coolschools. Due to popular demand, they changed the emphasis this year, giving the most weight to a school's energy supply. Is a green school right for you?
Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont scored the highest in the U.S. with 88.6 out of 100. Sierra gives it top marks in all categories, especially creativity. Its energy comes from biomass and biogas (er, manure), and is working toward becoming the country's first carbon-neutral school by 2011.
Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania is No. 2 with a score of 86.1. At Dickinson, every student studies sustainability. The school maintains a high-efficiency power plant and operates a hands-on biodiesel shop.
Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington moves up from No. 6 last year with a score of 85.9. Students at Evergreen pay a self-imposed clean-energy fee, supplying enough cash for the school to purchase 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.
At No. 4 is the University of Washington in Seattle with a score of 84.7, down from No. 2 last year. The school teams students from different departments for its annual Environmental Innovation Challenge. Sierra calls this effort eco-thinking at its best.
Stanford University in Palo Alto, California scored 84.6 to come in at No. 5. The school boasts a $225 million Global Climate and Energy Project that encourages the use of technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The No. 6 spot goes to the University of California at Irvine with a score of 84.4. UCI encourages the use of alternative transportation to reduce the use of SUVs in busy Orange County.
At No. 7 is Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin with a score of 84.2. The school's McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center has composting toilets, low-flow water fixtures, solar panels, and a wind turbine. It calls itself The Environmental Liberal Arts College.
Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts comes in No. 8 with a score of 82.8. Sierra says, "America's oldest college invests in the future with a revolving fund that loans money for recycling and solar projects. Payback comes in the form of efficiency savings."
Dropping from No. 5 last year, College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine is No. 9 in 2010 with 82.5 points. The school offers a sustainable-business curriculum and participates in an incubator to encourage eco-entrepreneurs.