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How Cool is That? Seattle U Top 10 in ‘Cool Schools’ Green Ranking

Written by Dean Forbes

August 27, 2018

A Seattle U student worker pruning a bush on campus

Image credit: Matt Lipsen

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Seattle University is a Top 10 school when it comes to being green, according to the 2018 “Cool Schools” rankings published this week in Sierra, the magazine of The Sierra Club.

Seattle University is a Top 10 school when it comes to being green, according to the 2018 “Cool Schools” rankings published this week in Sierra, the magazine of The Sierra Club. Seattle U was ranked #8 this year, up from #48 in 2017. Seattle U was the only university in Washington to make the magazine’s top 20.

Sierra received submissions from a record 269 college and universities in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Canada for consideration in its 12th annual Cool Schools rankings. The schools were ranked based largely on their existing STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System) scores, which is a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

The rankings highlight schools that displayed a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues and encouraging environmental responsibility, according to Sierra. Using a customized scoring system, the magazine’s researchers ranked schools  based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.

“This recognition from Sierra is a testament to our exceptional faculty, staff and students who share a deep commitment to the sustainability of our planet and promoting environmental health and equity,” says President Stephen J. Sundborg, SJ. “It is a commitment reflected every day across our beautiful and sustainable campus to our hands-on, values-driven teaching.”

Seattle U began participating in the rigorous benchmarking STARS program in 2016 and out of the gate achieved a gold rating. The university’s gold score improved in 2018 (view the report here). Curriculum and grounds were especially high-scoring categories for the university.

“Our curriculum is one of the best in the country and our grounds score reflects the great job that Facilities Services does for our urban wildlife sanctuary,” says Phil Thompson, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, which coordinates Seattle U’s sustainability efforts.

AASHE also recently released its 2018 Sustainable Campus Index and ranked Seattle U's sustainability curriculum and related academic offerings No. 3 in the country. The report can be found here.

The university’s award-winning work to create a more sustainable campus is wide-ranging and encompasses energy and greenhouse gas reductions to waste diversion and efficient buildings. Read more about the university’s green efforts here, including more about our Climate Action Plan. Sustainability is core to Seattle U’s Jesuit identity and values. To that end, the university embraced Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on the environment called Laudato Si in 2015.

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