Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

The Northeast is Home to Some of the Greenest Universities in the Country

University of Vermont in Burlington, VT. Photo: user

University of Vermont in Burlington, VT. Photo: user

By Chris Gillespie

Data analysists at recently assessed U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 list of Top 100 universities and ranked them based on their commitment to the environment and their success with sustainability initiatives.

Here are updates from some of the twenty-five “greenest” schools that are located right here in the Northeast.

University of Vermont (Burlington, VT)’s #7

The Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized University of Vermont (UVM) as a conference champion of the 2016-17 College & University Green Power Challenge. According to the EPA, UVM used 60 million kWh of green power in the last school year, representing the energy equivalent of 5,400 American homes and 99% of the school’s annual electricity usage. UVM recently received its second gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System for higher education.

Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Dartmouth College* (Hanover, NH)’s #10

Between 2008 and 2015, Dartmouth reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 22% by upgrading energy systems in its buildings and promoting conservation and efficiency among its students, faculty and staff. Dartmouth’s campus features multiple LEED-certified buildings, one of which is the platinum-rated Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center, which is three times larger than the college’s previous life sciences building yet uses 90% less energy. As reported in the June 2017 edition of Green Energy Times, the people of the surrounding town of Hanover recently committed to switching to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Northeastern University* (Boston, MA)’s #13

This past April, Northeastern partnered with the Washington D.C. branch of Florida International University to convene scholars, research experts and public officials at Capitol Hill for a briefing on coastal sustainability and the threat of rising sea levels to coastal cities and towns, such as Boston and Miami. Northeastern has also reported it recycled nearly 40% of campus waste in 2016.

Clark University* (Worcester, MA)’s #17

In 2016, Clark opened its new Alumni and Student Engagement Center, a building which receives half of its energy needs from a rooftop solar array. The university recently completed renovating a major steam distribution line as part of a four-year plan to reduce Clark’s carbon emissions by 210 tons by upgrading uninsulated pipes. Clark’s Climate Action Plan commits the university to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.

Columbia University* (New York, NY)’s #19

Columbia’s Board of Trustees voted in March 2017 to disinvest from companies deriving more than 35% of their revenue from thermal coal production and to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Climate Change Program. In April, Columbia released its first campus sustainability plan and pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2020.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)’s #22

In May of this year, MIT’s Office of Sustainability hosted the third annual Sustainability Connect conference for students, faculty and staff to come together and brainstorm innovative ways for MIT to improve its sustainability efforts. MIT recently published its first greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy, which lays out how the institution’s administration plans on meeting or surpassing its 2015 goal of reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030. MIT has already succeeded in reducing total campus emissions by 7%.

Boston University* (Boston, MA)’s #25

Last year, Boston University (BU) was recognized by Mayor Marty Walsh as the 2016 recipient of the Greenovate Boston Award for Climate Preparedness and Resiliency for its commitment to identifying ways that the city of Boston can prepare for the effects of climate change. This year, BU is replacing over 300 washing machines with new EnergyStar units that will lower energy costs and reduce the university’s water consumption by a million gallons a year.

Other northeastern colleges and universities that made’s list include Brown University, Providence, RI; New York University*, New York, NY; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Tufts University*, Medford, MA; and Brandeis University*, Waltham, MA. To see the full list, visit

*Asterisks indicate institutions that have signed the 2017 “We’re Still In” pledge. For the full list of American communities and organizations that are still committed to the Paris Agreement, visit

Chris Gillespie is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He can be reached at

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