UC Irvine has earned a spot among the top ten ‘Coolest Schools’ in the country in an annual ranking by Sierra magazine. It’s the third consecutive year that the local university has landed in the list’s top ten schools.
Students from UCI's biological sciences
and independent study programs work to
create a cactus wren habitat at the UCI
The Cool Schools list evaluates a campus’ “coolness” by examining its environmental improvements and initiatives that promote sustainable life, work and education practices. Top ranking on the list indicate schools that have made significant commitments to campus sustainability.
UCI is one of three schools to make the top ten in the three most recent lists; the other two high-performing campuses are Stanford University and the University of Washington.
“There are many good institutions on this list, all doing great things in the area of sustainability. We are pleased to be part of such an outstanding group,” said Wendell Brase, UCI vice chancellor for administrative and business services. Brase said the application and evaluation for the ranking was a rigorous process.
The annual Cool Schools list is open to all four-year universities and colleges; school administrators are invited to complete a survey, the Campus Sustainability Data Collector. The survey, created by the Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Endowment Institute, and the Princeton Review, examines a school’s measurable environmental goals and achievements. Out of a total 894.50 points, UCI scored 628.48 in total, and earned perfect scores in the areas of Planning and Innovation.
“With their ever-growing emphasis on environmental responsibility, these schools are channeling the enthusiasm of their students, who consistently cite climate disruption and other environmental issues as the most serious challenges their generation must confront, while demonstrating leadership for other civic institutions,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief. Sipchen described the rankings as traditional institutions evolving in nontraditional ways.
UCI attributes its high ranking to a number of programs, both academic and administrative, dedicated to earth-friendly aims. Programs focused on waste diversion, water savings and energy-efficient campus construction all factored into the school’s high score. UCI has also instituted measures to reduce auto traffic, to, from and on the campus.
Other programs and initiatives include the National Fuel Cell Research Center, located on the UCI campus, which invented the technology used to create the first tri-generation fuel cell and hydrogen energy station. The campus’ Smart Labs Initiative is aimed at safely reducing energy use in research labs, which can account for two-thirds of a typical university’s energy consumption. UCI also operates 37 research centers, institutes and programs relating to sustainability.
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