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October 27, 2020

College of the Atlantic is No. 1 green college for fifth year running

Courtesy / College of the Atlantic College of the Atlantic again achieved the No. 1 ranking as a green college on the Princeton Review's Top 50 Green Colleges.

College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor has been named the country’s No. 1 green college for the fifth year in a row on the Princeton Review's Top 50 Green Colleges ranking list.

Other Maine colleges making the top 50 list were Colby College in Waterville, No. 14; Bowdoin College in Brunswick, No. 23;  and Bates College in Lewiston, No. 28.

College of the Atlantic has held the No. 1 position since 2016. 

The top 50 green colleges share high marks for regional foods, waste diversion, renewable energy and sustainability-focused academics, according to the Princeton Review. Using the COA campus as a laboratory for exploring sustainability across these areas enables students to apply theoretical learning with experiential practice, COA President Darron Collins, a 1992 graduate of the college, said in a news release.

“Our commitment to sustainability is at the very core of who we are as an institution,” Collins said. 

Established in 1969, COA was the first college in the U.S. specifically founded to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment, the school says. In 2007, it became the first carbon-neutral college in the U.S. It has since committed to becoming fossil fuel–free by 2030. 

COA is also constructing a new 29,000-square-foot building, called the Center for Human Ecology, that follows the passive house standard for energy performance; uses local and recycled materials and onsite renewable energy sources, and integrates carbon sequestration through high-density wood products, expected to reduce the overall carbon footprint in relation to similar buildings.

Among all schools on the list, initiatives range from solar-powered residence halls to tray-less dining halls.

The Princeton Review’s 11th annual Guide to Green Colleges, a free resource that the education service company has published since 2010 for college applicants seeking schools with exemplary commitments to the environment and sustainability, was released Oct. 20. 

The 2021 edition profiles 416 colleges. 

Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of the Princeton Review, noted the review has seen a high level of interest among college applicants and their parents in colleges with green practices, programs and offerings. Sixty-six percent of the 12,845 respondents (college-bound teens and parents) to the review’s 2020 College Hopes & Worries Survey said having information about a college's commitment to the environment would affect decisions to apply to or attend a school. 

As a group, the top 50 schools have compelling statistics with respect to the levels of their commitment to sustainability. Overall:

  • 21% of their total food purchases are from local sources and/or organic
  • 49% of their waste is diverted from incinerators or solid-waste landfills
  • 98% offer a sustainability-focused undergraduate major or degree
  • 100% have a sustainability officer.

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