A College of the Atlantic student helps to install solar panels. The college aims to get all of its electricity from renewable sources. PHOTO COURTESY OF COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC

College of the Atlantic is country’s ‘coolest’ school

BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic has been named the No. 1 greenest college in the country in “Sierra” magazine’s “Cool Schools” rankings for the second year in a row.

“Sierra” noted COA’s pro-environmental curriculum, an endowment divested from fossil fuels and its zero-waste aspirations, among other programs.

“In the new millennium, concerns for the environment must be wedded to social justice and be central to everything we do,” said Darron Collins ’92, president of College of the Atlantic. “Our students will lead the way in this effort, and the more they are directly involved with the hard work of creating sustainable campuses and communities, the more they can gain the skills and confidence to create the future we all deserve.”

“Sierra,” the official publication of the Sierra Club, released its 11th annual “Cool Schools” ranking of America’s most environmentally minded colleges and universities on Aug. 22. Out of a possible 1,000 points, College of the Atlantic finished with a first-place score of 779.58.

“We continue to be inspired by the creative and innovative ways colleges and universities across the country are working to tackle the climate crisis and move toward a sustainable future,” said Jason Mark, the magazine’s editor-in-chief. “From powering campuses with clean energy to educating students on new methods of sustainability, it is this leadership that is driving positive change and helping to shape a future that is clean, just and equitable for all.”

More than 200 schools participated in the magazine’s extensive survey about sustainability practices on their campuses. Each of the schools ranked in the top 20 have displayed a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues and encouraging environmental responsibility. Using a customized scoring system, researchers ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.

COA’s continued leadership in sustainability is highlighted by plans to divert 90 percent of discarded materials by 2025, use of 100 percent renewable electricity and work on campus and in the community to bring sustainable practices to all facets of student life.

COA involves students in every step of the policy-making and implementation process, making the work itself an important part of sustainability education, Collins said.

“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.

The full ranking of 227 colleges and universities, including each school’s completed questionnaire, is online at www.sierraclub.org/coolschools.

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