UConn Among Sierra Club’s Top 10 “Cool Schools”

UConn has once again been rated among the nation’s greenest schools in Sierra Club’s annual “Cool Schools” rankings

Students on Horsebarn Hill with campus skyline in background on October 8, 2020. (Sean Flynn/UConn photo)

Students on Horsebarn Hill with campus skyline in background on October 8, 2020. (Sean Flynn/UConn photo)

UConn has once again been rated among the nation’s greenest schools in the Sierra Club’s annual “Cool Schools” rankings, which evaluate universities for their environmental sustainability. This year, UConn ranks #8, and maintains prominence as one of the world’s most sustainable campuses.

The Sierra Club rankings are determined using data collected by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) STARS self-reporting tool. Those results are reported in the 2020 Sustainable Campus Index. The Sierra Club then applies additional environmental criteria to arrive at its final rankings.

UConn has much to be proud of in the measures implemented to ensure the campus continues to move in a sustainable direction and maintains “top performer” classification in many areas such as campus and public engagement, food and dining, and prioritizing sustainable curriculum especially since UConn adopted an environmental literacy general education requirement in 2019.

Scroll down to see just a few of the many measures taken to help make UConn a sustainable leader in higher education.

Rich Miller, director of UConn’s Office of Sustainability says he is especially proud of UConn’s progress in the area of energy efficiency, because it reflects a top-down commitment among several departments -  like Facilities and Planning - to conservation, emissions reductions, and green building. On top of that program, Miller notes that Science 1, which opens in 2022, will be home to UConn’s largest solar installation, with a 400-500kW rooftop array.

Since 2007, UConn has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 19.5% despite significant growth in enrollment and square footage of buildings on campus.

Since 2005, UConn has worked hard to reduce water usage, including building a first-of-its-kind water reclamation facility, installing low-flow faucets and fixtures in buildings across campus, and ramping up its leak detection program, resulting in a 55% reduction in average daily potable water usage.

UConn’s Reclaimed Water Facility helps save 475,000 gallons of water per day during peak demand periods.

UConn continues to work toward waste reduction through efforts such as recycling, re-sale, and food waste collection program.

Reduction in total waste generated per campus user since 2005.

UConn also rates highly in the number of classes offered with sustainability-related content. Around 18% of classes offered have a sustainability component, which encompasses not just courses in environmental studies and sciences, but also sustainability-related subject matter in human rights, business, engineering, and majors throughout the humanities and social sciences.

Sustainability-focused classes offered.

“It seems like everyone at UConn wants to be a part of the sustainability movement,” says Miller. “Hardly a semester goes by when we’re not collaborating on a new initiative with a different UConn partner, like last spring semester when we worked with UConn’s Werth Institute to organize a sustainability-themed UConn Hack-a-thon.”

The event awarded thousands of dollars in prize money to teams of UConn students who designed entrepreneurial solutions to vexing environmental problems. Measures across the university, large and small, led by employees in all departments, as well student groups and other members of the university community, make a difference, says Miller.

Visit sierraclub.org to see what UConn and other “cool schools” are doing to work toward a more sustainable future.