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ASU moves up to No. 4 in Sierra Club's 'coolest schools'

Magazine's ranking recognizes ASU for sustainability practices

ASU Palm Walk
September 28, 2020

Sierra magazine, the national publication of the Sierra Club, released its 14th annual “Cool Schools” competitive ranking of North America’s greenest colleges and universities on Sept. 28, ranking Arizona State University fourth out of more than 300 institutions.

This is the fourth year ASU has scored in the top 20; last year it was No. 10.

Success did not happen overnight or alone, said Mick Dalrymple, director of University Sustainability Practices.

“This ranking reflects the efforts of many Sun Devils from across the university who walk the talk on sustainability in action,” Dalrymple said. “To be a Sun Devil is to be sustainable.”

Among the many reasons ASU has become a leader in sustainability is that the university makes it easy to contribute.

“ASU provides so many options for students, staff and faculty to engage in personal action that supports a sustainable campus and community, from getting involved in zero waste efforts to sustainability certifications to practicing sustainable purchasing,” Dalrymple said. “The Global Futures Laboratory also provides a steady menu of educational events and October is Campus Sustainability Month nationwide, in which ASU will offer more ways to get involved.”

The ranking comes on the heels of another win by ASU in April, when the university won the top ranking in the U.S. and fifth in the world out of 766 institutions in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Each of the schools ranked in the top 20 by Sierra magazine have displayed a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility. Using a customized scoring system, Sierra’s researchers ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.

“Over the last two decades, ASU has been a leader and innovator in sustainability education, research, and practice,” said Christopher Boone, dean of the new College of Global Futures. “It created the nation’s first School of Sustainability and reached its carbon neutrality goals six years ahead of schedule. I’m proud that ASU is being recognized for its achievements in sustainability and demonstrating that it can be done at scale, with a student enrollment of 130,000 students.”   

Cool schools logo

For students who want to improve the world, there is no better place to study and become engaged, said Andrew Maynard, associate dean of curricula and student success in the College of Global Futures.

“(In the new College of Global Futures) we’re in the business of empowering our students to be agents of change,” Maynard said. “And our ranking in this year's Sierra Club’s Coolest Schools ratings just confirms that, if you’re passionate about changing the future for the better, there’s no better place to be.”

 Sierra magazine’s top 20 schools of 2020 are:

  1. University of California, Irvine
  2. Stanford University
  3. Thompson Rivers University
  4. Arizona State University
  5. University of California, Merced
  6. State University of New York College of Environmental Science
  7. Colorado State University
  8. University of Connecticut
  9. University of New Hampshire
  10. Colby College
  11. Universite Laval
  12. Cornell University
  13. University of California, Berkeley
  14. Dickinson College
  15. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  16. University of Massachusetts, Lowell
  17. Chatham University
  18. University of California, Davis
  19. Santa Clara University
  20. Seattle University

It’s a lot more than just recycling. Areas where schools were ranked include campus and public engagement, research, curricula, buildings, purchasing, investment, water and innovation.

“Sierra’s Cool Schools ranking recognizes ASU’s comprehensive sustainability initiatives, including additional emphasis on climate action and endowment investments,” Dalrymple said. “These are areas where ASU and the Foundation shine due to the efforts of many over time.”

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