COA eco-ranking leaves others ‘green’ with envy

BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic has been named the greenest college in the country by “Sierra” magazine in its 10th annual “Cool Schools” ranking. That is up 15 spots from last year’s ranking of No. 16.

“Sierra” attributes COA’s number one spot to its successful and thorough integration of sustainability into the curriculum, to the complete divestment of its endowment from fossil fuels and to 100 percent of its electricity coming from renewable sources, among other factors.

“We are honored to receive this kind of recognition for the environmental commitments we’ve made since our first class walked through our doors in 1972,” said COA President Darron Collins. “I think our high ranking is an indication that, where ‘greenness’ is concerned, it’s not the number of solar panels you can install in a given year, it’s about how embedded ecology, the environment and sustainability is within the curriculum.”

“At COA, we measure our success by how much students learn and by how successful they are at applying that learning out in the world. If we were 100 percent off-the-grid and carbon negative, but students didn’t learn a thing in the process, it would not do us much good,” Collins said.

According to the rankings, at least 75 percent of COA’s faculty are engaged in sustainability research, while more than 35 percent of the classes offered are related to environmentalism.

More than 200 schools participated in the survey about sustainability practices. Colby College, coming in at No. 4, is the only other Maine school or university to make the list.

The full ranking of 202 colleges, including each school’s completed questionnaire, can be found at

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