BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic is the most environmentally responsible college in the country, according to The Princeton Review. The group’s Top 50 Green Colleges 2016 ranking, published Oct. 5, features COA in the number one spot. The ranking follows a similar one from Sierra Club earlier this fall, which placed COA in the top green spot in its Cool Schools list.
Among COA’s many green distinctions cited by Princeton Review: The school became the first carbon-neutral college in 2007; COA owns and stewards 300 acres of forest and farmland, which provide research and educational opportunities for students and faculty; and the college’s hands-on curriculum involves students in implementing COA’s commitment to become a fossil fuel-free campus by 2050 – already COA classes have participated in energy audits and have researched, sited, and installed solar photovoltaic arrays on campus.
“This ranking reflects COA’s near half-century commitment to the environment and the depth with which we imbed the environment in our curriculum,” said College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ‘92.
The Princeton Review chose the schools for this seventh-annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2015-16 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.
“We strongly recommend College of the Atlantic and the other fine colleges in this guide to the many environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, Senior VP-Publisher.
Franek noted the growing interest the company has seen among college-bound students in green colleges. “Among more than 10,000 teens and parents who participated in our 2016 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61% told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college.”
The profiles in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 361 Green Colleges, of which the Top 50 Green Colleges is included, provide information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, and student body stats. They also include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives at the schools and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.
The Princeton Review cites COA’s real food efforts, within which at least 30 percent of the food budget is spent on local or organic food, 51 percent waste diversion rate, and sustainability-focused degree as some of the other reasons for the school’s outstanding performance.
“If you want to understand what this ranking means, just look at the waste audit tent we had set up on campus this fall,” president Collins said. “It’s a great example of a student-designed, interdisciplinary, project-based initiative that drives the long term sustainability of the institution while emphasizing student learning. It’s all about getting real and intellectual dirt under your fingernails.”