To start our search, we compiled a list of approximately 320 U.S. colleges and universities that adequately met some standard for environmental consciousness. We took this list from Princeton Review's selective "Green College Guide." We then collected information on seven different indicators, which we selected based on our goal to discover the 30 colleges most committed to both sustainability and affordability. After we collected all the raw data, we weighted each category based on its perceived level of importance in our ranking. This gave each school an adjusted number of points for each category, which we then tallied to assign the institutions final scores based on their total points.

We also gave each school a percentage score based on its performance out of a maximum possible 410 points. You will notice that even the #1 rated school didn't receive an "A" grade based on this methodology. That is not only understandable, but expected. In order to achieve even close to a 90% or above, a school would have to perform very highly across the board in all categories, plus offer rock-bottom tuition rates. Keeping that in mind, it's actually quite impressive that some universities received scores above 70%. It also serves as a good reminder that there is always room for improvement.

The seven categories we used were:


Net Price: 20%
We took data for schools' "net prices" from College Navigator, a government-owned website that reports statistics on American universities. We chose to use net price over tuition because the former option allows us to take into account a school's final affordability, after it awards its students scholarships, grants, etc.


STARS Rating: 10%
The Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) is a subset of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The system ranks schools based on a number of factors, including academic courses, research, campus engagement, air and climate quality, building design, and much more. We assigned schools points based on the STARS award they received - Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, or "Reporter."


Number of "Green" Majors: 15%
For this category, we simply counted the number of programs available at each institution that would appeal to eco-conscious students. This could include (but was not limited to): Environmental Science, Bioethics, Environmental Design, Sustainable/Green Architecture, Food Science, Nutrition, Horticulture, Marine Biology, Urban Planning, Ecology, Public Health, Environmental Policy, Natural Resource Management, Parks and Recreation, Environmental Engineers, Nonprofit with Environmental Focus, and Environmental Studies.


Research Centers and Institutes with a Sustainable Focus 10%
Similar to the previous indicator, for this category we counted the number of research centers and programs at each school that would allow an undergraduate or graduate student to explore "green" areas of interest on campus. We weighted this category slightly less than the academic majors score because while all students have to explore academics, we understand that not everyone has an opportunity or interest in research.


"Green" Volunteer Opportunities: 15%
We felt it was important to explore the opportunities environmentally friendly students would have to volunteer in the community surrounding their campuses. Again, we quantified this ability by simply counting the number of opportunities available at each institution. This might include a trip abroad, a student organization advocating for climate change, the chance to work in an organic garden, and much more.


Outdoor/Nature-Focused Recreation Opportunities: 10%
We also considered that eco-conscious students might also have an interest in communing with nature and engaging in activities that would help them build an even greater respect for nature. "Green" students are likely to enjoy backpacking, hiking, climbing, kayaking, and other outdoor sports that bring them closer to the earth they work so hard to protect. Just as with the other categories, we counted the number of activities each school offers. However, we weighted this indicator as slightly less important because, while certainly an indication of "green" passion, it has a less direct impact on sustainability on college campuses.


Environmental Policies on Campus: 20%
For this category, we explored each university's true commitment to sustainability by ranking the environmental policies they enact on campus. Some schools have a clear-cut vision for environmental friendliness, creating strict goals for themselves to cut emissions or improve recycling efforts. Others enact "green" building practices and offer local, organic food options on campus. On the other hand, other schools make little to no effort to be eco-conscious, and/or their goals lack vision and clarity. We graded schools on a 1-5 scale according to their environmental policies, using this guide:

1. No information or no specific policies enacted
2. Declares intention to be environmentally friendly but any mention of policies/potential policies are vague and/or ineffective. Information is difficult to find.
3. Has made some attempts to improve sustainability practices, but these efforts are either lacking in quantity/quality or are too recent to understand their impact.
4. Clearly lists the initiatives in which they are engaged to protect the environment on campus, but the list isn't particularly impressive in its size and the school has not received accolades for its work in this area.
5. Clearly lists a number of specific initiatives the school has taken to conserve energy, reduce waste, cut down on emissions, etc. Has won an award or received some sort of acknowledgement for their environmental policies.

We weighted this category as 20% of the overall score because we felt that it perhaps provided the best indication of a school's overall commitment to going green.


To provide complete transparency, we have listed the entire final ranking below, including all 300+ institutions, their total points, and their percentage scores.

Schools Total Score Percentage Score
University of California-San Diego 301.4 74%
Purdue University-West Lafayette 296.5 72%
University of California-Santa Barbara 286.3 70%
Colorado State University 281.4 69%
Georgia Institute of Technology 280.95 69%
Stanford University 269.2 66%
University of Washington 263.8 64%
University of California-Irvine 260.1 63%
Florida State University 256.05 62%
University of Arizona 255.65 62%
Northern Arizona University 255.3 62%
University of Maryland-College Park 254.95 62%
George Mason University 253.5 62%
West Virginia University 249.9 61%
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 248.4 61%
New Mexico State University 247.8 60%
State University of New York-College of Environmental Science and Forestry 245.55 60%
University of Vermont 245.15 60%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale 244.7 60%
Unity College 242.75 59%
University of Illinois at Chicago 242.05 59%
Radford University 242 59%
Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge 241.25 59%
California State University, Chico 240.3 59%
University of Georgia 239.65 58%
College of William and Mary 239.45 58%
State University of New York at Binghamton (Binghamton University) 239.05 58%
University of Arkansas-Fayetteville 238.8 58%
Western Kentucky University 238.45 58%
Arizona State University 237.7 58%
Iowa State University 236 58%
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 235.45 57%
University of Iowa 234.45 57%
University of South Florida 232.3 57%
University of California-Berkeley 232 57%
University of California, Merced 232 57%
University of California-Riverside 231 56%
Duke University 230.55 56%
Middlebury College 229.45 56%
Southern Oregon University 227 55%
Clarkson University 226.8 55%
University of Florida 224.65 55%
Portland State University 224.45 55%
Penn State University Park 224.3 55%
University of California-Los Angeles 224.15 55%
University of Hawaii at Manoa 222.65 54%
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 222.3 54%
The Ohio State University-Columbus 222.1 54%
University of Northern Iowa 220.9 54%
The University of Texas at Austin 220.4 54%
Grand Valley State University 219.55 54%
Ithaca College 219.15 53%
State University of New York-Stony Brook University 218.5 53%
University of South Carolina-Columbia 218.3 53%
Appalachian State University 218 53%
University of Alaska Fairbanks 217.75 53%
Ball State University 216.55 53%
Florida Gulf Coast University 214.9 52%
Utah State University 214.7 52%
Oregon State University 213.85 52%
Columbia University 213.1 52%
University of Cincinnati 212.95 52%
Towson University 212.8 52%
>University of Massachusetts Amherst 212.3 52%
University of North Texas 211.95 52%
San Francisco State University 211.55 52%
University of Louisville 209.25 51%
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 208.8 51%
Michigan State University 207.7 51%
California State University, Fresno 207.65 51%
University of California-Santa Cruz 207.5 51%
Miami University 207.45 51%
Colgate University 206.45 50%
University of Colorado-Boulder 205.45 50%
Texas A&M University-College Station 205.15 50%
Harvard College 203.8 50%
Western Michigan University 203.3 50%
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 203.2 50%
Ohio University-Athens 202.4 49%
Indiana University Bloomington 202.35 49%
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh 202.25 49%
The University of Montana 201.25 49%
Auburn University 200.45 49%
North Carolina State University 199.9 49%
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona 199 49%
City University of New York-Hunter College 197.85 48%
Virginia Commonwealth University 197.7 48%
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania 1 97.6 48%
University at Albany - SUNY 196.95 48%
Western Washington University 195.45 48%
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 195.3 48%
Virginia Tech 195.05 48%
University of Oregon 193.95 47%
University of New Hampshire 193.6 47%
Luther College 193.55 47%
Brooklyn College, City University of New York 193.55 47%
University of Rhode Island 192.55 47%
University of Minnesota Duluth 192.35 47%
San Diego State University 191.45 47%
Texas Tech University 191.35 47%
Northland College 191.25 47%
University of California, Davis 191.25 47%
Clemson University 190.65 47%
University of Houston 190.6 46%
Wesleyan University 190.45 46%
Cornell University 189.8 46%
California State University, Monterey Bay 188.9 46%
Weber State University 188.75 46%
University of Maine 188.6 46%
Boston University 188.25 46%
The Evergreen State College 188 46%
University of Missouri-Kansas City 187.5 46%
University of Minnesota, Morris 187.4 46%
Dartmouth College 185.75 45%
College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University 185.6 45%
University of Missouri 185.3 45%
Southern Connecticut State University 184.5 45%
Rochester Institute of Technology 184.3 45%
Northeastern University 184 45%
SUNY College at Oneonta 182.95 45%
Berea College 182.4 44%
Colby College 182 44%
University of Utah 181.7 44%
University of New Mexico 181.1 44%
Vanderbilt University 180.8 44%
James Madison University 180.55 44%
University of Virginia 180.45 44%
Eastern Washington University 179.75 44%
Dickinson College 179.7 44%
State University of New York at Geneseo 179.6 44%
Macalester College 178.6 44%
University of Notre Dame 178.3 43%
State University of New York-Fredonia 178.2 43%
University of Idaho 177.45 43%
New York University 177.35 43%
Bowling Green State University 176.85 43%
Western Carolina University 176.7 43%
Old Dominion University 176.6 43%
City University of New York City College 176.35 43%
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 176.3 43%
Colorado College 175.95 43%
Frostburg State University 175.9 43%
Carnegie Mellon University 175.75 43%
Illinois State University 175.1 43%
Indiana State University 175.05 43%
Earlham College 174.05 42%
University of Central Florida 173.5 42%
Washington State University 172.75 42%
Northwestern University 171.55 42%
University of Delaware 169.95 41%
College of Charleston 169.75 41%
Florida Atlantic University 169.25 41%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 168.95 41%
University of San Diego 168.45 41%
Georgetown University 167.9 41%
University of Maine at Farmington 167.6 41%
University of Tennessee 167.55 41%
Niagara University 167.25 41%
University of Massachusetts - Boston 166.7 41%
Smith College 165.9 40%
Brandeis University 165.6 40%
Adelphi University 165.05 40%
Bucknell University 164.9 40%
Santa Clara University 164.5 40%
Temple University 164.5 40%
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 164.25 40%
Yale University 164.25 40%
University of Connecticut 163.9 40%
Coastal Carolina University 163.85 40%
Berry College 163.25 40%
College of the Atlantic 163 40%
Emory University 162.95 40%
The University of Memphis 162.95 40%
University of Pennsylvania 161.7 39%
City University of New York-Queens College 161.3 39%
Marquette University 161.2 39%
Babson College 160.85 39%
Guilford College 160.85 39%
Goucher College 160.75 3 9%
Westminster College of Salt Lake City 159.45 39%
University of Mount Union 159.2 39%
The University of Texas at Dallas 158.6 39%
Agnes Scott College 158.2 39%
Catawba College 156.9 38%
State University of New York-Oswego 156.55 38%
DePauw University 156 38%
Aquinas College 155.75 38%
Chatham University 155.75 38%
Winona State University 155.35 38%
Georgia Southern University 155 38%
Johns Hopkins University 154.9 38%
California Institute of Technology 154.8 38%
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire 154.45 38%
Brown University 153.9 38%
Green Mountain College 153.8 38%
Vassar College 153.8 38%
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus 153.55 37%
Elon University 151.75 37%
University of Richmond 151.7 37%
University of Oklahoma 151.35 37%
Hamilton College 150.65 37%
Pomona College 150.6 37%
State University of New York - New Paltz 150.55 37%
Wellesley College 149.95 37%
Tufts University 149.65 37%
Princeton University 149.35 36%
Pepperdine University 149.25 36%
University of South Carolina Aiken 149.2 36%
Central Michigan University 148.55 36%
Davidson College 147.85 3 6%
University of Mississippi 147.85 36%
Eastern Illinois University 147.75 36%
Western State Colorado University 147.6 36%
Franklin and Marshall College 147.2 36%
California State University, Channel Islands 146.55 36%
Bowdoin College 146.55 36%
Mount Holyoke College 146.1 36%
North Central College 146 36%
Roosevelt University 145.95 36%
SUNY at Purchase College 145.6 36%
Saint Peter's University 145.45 35%
Mills College 145.1 35%
Williams College 145.1 35%
Eastern Connecticut State University 144.85 35%
Worcester State University 143.85 35%
Loyola University of Chicago 143.4 35%
University of Miami 143.1 35%
Oberlin College 142.8 35%
Furman University 142.65 35%
Eckerd College 142.45 35%
Haverford College 142.45 35%
Montclair State University 142.15 35%
Allegheny College 142 35%
Swarthmore College 141.55 35%
Bard College 141.25 34%
Clark University 140.5 34%
St. John's University 139.9 34%
Sewanee-The University of the South 139.6 34%
Pitzer College 139.35 34%
Drew University 139 34%
Roanoke College 139 34%
Lipscomb University 138.9 34%
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey 138.1 34%
Syracuse University 137.9 34%
University of Puget Sound 137.9 34%
Villanova University 136.85 33%
California University of Pennsylvania 135.8 33%
Maharishi University of Management 135.4 33%
Washington University in St. Louis 133.5 33%
Boston College 133.3 33%
Shenandoah University 133 32%
Hollins University 132 32%
Hofstra University 131.35 32%
Salisbury University 130.35 32%
Denison University 128.5 31%
Austin College 127.55 31%
Stetson University 127.35 31%
Keene State College 127.3 31%
Lincoln University (MO) 127.15 31%
California State University-Stanislaus 126.9 31%
Rowan University 126.85 31%
University of Rochester 126.55 31%
Seattle University 126.4 31%
University of Chicago 125.75 31%
American University 124.8 30%
St. Mary's College of Maryland 124.55 30%
Virginia Wesleyan College 124.2 30%
Linfield College 124.05 30%
Stonehill College 124.05 30%
Connecticut College 122.95 30%
The College of Wooster 122.95 30%
Ohio Wesleyan University 121.25 30%
University of North Dakota 120.55 29%
Prescott College 119.7 29%
Illinois Institute of Technology 119.45 29%
Gettysburg College 119.15 29%
Kennesaw State University 118.3 29%
Union College 118.2 29%
Saint Michael's College 117.65 29%
Whitman College 116.75 28%
Creighton University 116.55 28%
Messiah College 116.45 28%
Central Washington University 116.4 28%
Pratt Institute 115.35 28%
The George Washington University 114.25 28%
Rollins College 114.2 28%
Xavier University 113.35 28%
University of Dayton 113.15 28%
Marywood University 112.35 27%
College of the Holy Cross 111.85 27%
Lewis & Clark College 110.9 27%
University of Denver 1 10.85 27%
Moravian College 109.95 27%
Southern New Hampshire University 109.15 27%
Naropa University 108.8 27%
University of La Verne 108.7 27%
Suffolk University 107.1 26%
Framingham State College 106.2 26%
Randolph College 105.6 26%
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 104.75 26%
Roger Williams University 103.85 25%
Drury University 102.05 25%
Seattle Pacific University 101.45 25%
Champlain College 100 24%
Tulane University 99.2 24%
Pacific Lutheran University 99 24%
University of the Pacific 98.4 24%
Keystone College 97.9 24%
The New School 96.85 24%
Warren Wilson College 96.05 23%
Kenyon College 95.85 23%
Hobart and William Smith Colleges 95.65 23%
Lawrence Tech 91.3 22%
Ursinus College 89.95 22%
Lafayette College 89.5 22%
University of Southern California 86.8 21%
The College of New Jersey 86.65 21%
Loyola Marymount University 85.85 21%
Case Western Reserve University 85.8 21%
Bentley University 85.7 21%
Carleton College 85.7 21%
Rider University 84.25 21%
University of Portland 79.7 19%
Saint Louis University 76.8 19%
Bates College 74.3 18%
Endicott College 72.55 18%
Bennington College 61.7 15%
Drexel University 59.5 15%