WWU Ranked 14th on Sierra Club’s Annual List of ‘Coolest Schools’

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 4:30pm

Contact: Western Washington University Office of University Communications, at (360) 650-3350 or news@wwu.edu

BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University has been ranked 14th in the nation in the Sierra Club’s fifth annual “Coolest Schools” ranking of colleges around the country helping to solve climate issues and operate sustainably.

Western’s rise to into the Top 20 (it placed 48th last year) among the nation’s thousands of colleges and universities was fueled by a host of initiatives on campus, such as being the first university in the nation to have its students impose a green-energy fee to pay for it becoming 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Western buys more renewable energy credits than any other university in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho.

Western’s ranking in the Top 20 placed it ahead of such schools as UCLA, the University of Connecticut, Cornell University, and the University of Maryland.

Sustainability lies at the core of everything Western does, from its inclusion in classes through the curricula to the central core of its groundbreaking Huxley College of the Environment.

“Dedicated student involvement and the University’s commitment to sustainability has resulted in the Green Energy Fee fundamentally changing the way that WWU approaches energy and the environment,” said Hilary McGowan, president of Western’s Students for Renewable Energy and coordinator of its Associated Students Environmental Center. “I’m really proud that the Western has been given this honor.”

According to a 2010 Princeton Review report, 64 percent of prospective college students take a university's commitment to environmental issues into consideration when deciding where to apply and enroll. Students care deeply about green issues and are attracted to institutions that are taking the initiative to solve environmental problems. The complete rankings, with comprehensive descriptions of each school’s environmental efforts, are available online at www.sierramagazine.com/coolschools. The Sierra Club is the country’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with more than 1.4 million members and supporters worldwide.

For more information on Western’s sustainability efforts or the Coolest Schools ranking, contact Western’s Office of University Communications at (360) 650-3350 or at news@wwu.edu.