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UMass Amherst again a top ‘green college’

  • UMass Amherst was once again named to the Princeton Review’s list of Top 50 Green Colleges. SUBMITTED PHOTO


Staff Report
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

AMHERST —The University of Massachusetts has again been named to the Princeton Review’s list of Top 50 Green Colleges, which are schools that have “superb sustainability practices, a strong foundation in sustainability education, and a healthy quality of life for students on campus.”

The list is included in the new 2018 edition of “The Princeton Review Guide to 399 Green Colleges” released online last week.

Ranked No. 27 this year, UMass Amherst was also among the Top 50 in 2015, 2016 and 2017. According to the Princeton Review release, “Out of the 2,000 schools we considered for this project, the Top 50 Green Colleges (not to mention all 399 Green Colleges that are profiled on our site) are, in our opinion, truly up to the task of training the next generation of leaders, who will be responsible for putting green ideas into practice.”

The Top 50 Green Colleges were chosen based on a combination of school-reported data and student opinion collected in Princeton Review surveys. The rankings factored in the school’s Green Rating, which is based on institutional data. In addition, 10 survey questions covered whether students have a quality of life on campus that is both healthy and sustainable; how well a school is preparing students for employment in an increasingly green economy; and how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are.

The rating, on a scale of 60 to 99, is meant to provide a comprehensive measure of a school’s performance as an environmentally aware and prepared institution. UMass Amherst was rated 98.

In 2012, President Obama recognized UMass Amherst when the campus won first place among 1,500 colleges in the annual White House College Champions of Change Competition.

More than 20 of nearly 90 undergraduate majors are sustainability-related, while more than 300 courses include some sustainability emphasis. And three graduate programs encourage advanced study in sustainability, including an accelerated master’s in sustainability science. Student Eco-Reps are charged with promoting sustainability practices in the residence halls, while Sustainability Fellows oversee sustainability activities such as the Green Office Program with more than 100 offices participating. Students also direct the blue-ribbon UMass Permaculture Initiative, run a U.S. Green Building Council student chapter and serve on the Chancellor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.

The campus recently launched an automated electric assist bike share program called ValleyBike, part of a larger regional program with 500 bikes at 50 stations throughout the Pioneer Valley. The campus now has more than 1 million square feet of LEED-certified building space.

Sustainability is also a main ingredient of the university’s No. 1-ranked dining service, which serves 60,000 meals a day and purchases 23 percent of all food and beverages from third-party verified (organic or humane) or community based/local sources and is one of the largest in-house dining programs to sign the Real Food Challenge Commitment.

The campus has the largest campus solar project in New England at 5.5 MW and more than 15,000 photovoltaic panels, generating about 6 million kWh annually.

The Princeton Review also cited the university’s AASHE STARS gold rating; its formal sustainability committee; and free campus shuttle.