COA tops green college list for 6th consecutive year 



BAR HARBOR — With high marks for regional and organic foods, a strong culture of waste diversion and a broad commitment to sustainability-focused academics, College of the Atlantic takes the No. 1 spot in The Princeton Review’s 2022 Guide to Green Colleges. It is the sixth year in a row for COA to be named the greenest school. 

The 12th annual guide ranks schools on their recycling and conservation programs, use of renewable energy, reliance on local food systems, waste diversion and more. COA President Darron Collins said that using the COA campus as a laboratory for exploring sustainability across these areas enables students to apply theoretical learning with experiential practice. 

“The combination of intellectual understanding and learning by doing is a powerful tool that prepares students to become active, involved citizens and helps them launch tremendous careers,” Collins said. “Our commitment to sustainability is at the very core of who we are as an institution, and we are honored to have our work on campus and our innovative academics recognized by The Princeton Review.” 

A focus on sustainability is at the heart of COA’s human-ecological education, which explores humans’ relationships with their natural, social and built environments. Over the school’s 50-year history, this focus has enabled student-led initiatives to divest from fossil fuels, ban single-use plastics and work toward a zero-waste campus, among others. 

Princeton Review Editor in Chief Rob Franek said that, as a group, the top 50 schools share impressive statistics with respect to their commitments to sustainability. Seventeen percent of their total food purchases are from local sources and/or organic, 51 percent of their waste is diverted from incinerators or solid-waste landfills, 96 percent offer a sustainability-focused undergraduate major or degree and 100 percent have a sustainability officer. 

“Given the sobering indicators of climate change and global calls to prioritize sustainability, we are pleased to shine a light on these schools and recommend them for their exceptional commitment to the environment,” Franek said. 

COA became the first carbon-neutral college in the U.S. in 2007. It has committed to becoming fossil fuel–free by 2030. Through its participatory governance structure, students have led the creation of initiatives and policies on fossil fuels, disposable plastics, green cleaning and landscaping products and more. 

“We strongly recommend College of the Atlantic to students who care about the environment and want to study and live at a green college,” Franek said. “College of the Atlantic offers excellent academics and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability that is exemplary on many counts.” 

The Princeton Review chose the 420 schools in the guide based on its survey of administrators at 835 colleges in 2020-21 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points to select the schools. 

Franek noted that The Princeton Review has seen an increasing level of interest among students in attending colleges with green practices, programs and offerings. Seventy-eight percent of the more than 11,000 college applicants that participated in The Princeton Review’s 2021 College Hopes & Worries Survey said that having information about a college’s commitment to the environment would affect their decision to apply to or attend a school, a 12 percent increase from the previous year.  

To see The Princeton Review’s complete guide to green colleges, go to www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/green-guide?ceid=green-colleges.