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Penn State Named A ‘Cool School’ For Sustainability By Sierra Club

The Sierra Club, a self-proclaimed guide for people who care deeply about nature, recently ranked Penn State as a “Cool School” for sustainability in its annual list of participating campuses. Penn State, which earned No. 38 on the list, is the second-highest ranked Pennsylvania school, proving that we #dominatethestate in every aspect.

Each school was scored out of a possible 1000 points, with points broken down into categories for things like Co-Cirricular, Energy, Food, Innovation, Academics, Water, and Waste, to name a few. Penn State earned a 690.50, ranking it above Pitt (No. 78), Temple (No. 121), and even Harvard (No. 41).

However the ranking comes as no surprise, as Penn State is no stranger to being recognized for it’s sustainability efforts. Just last year, the university won the National Recycling Coalition’s Outstanding Higher Education Award The award named Penn State one of the “best of the best” for its möbuis waste management program. If this doesn’t sound familiar, think of the blue and white trash bags in the tailgating fields, which is a part of the program. Additionally,  Penn State received a gold rating in the STARS (Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System) from The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2014.

Penn State also has a number of LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings. Notably, the MorningStar Solar Home is a 100 percent renewable-energy powered home located on East Campus in the shadow of Medlar Field.

Here’s some additional interesting facts from Penn State about its sustainability in light of the “Cool School” ranking:

  • 400+ faculty engaged in sustainability-related research
  • 300+ sustainability-related courses
  • 88 percent of students walk, bike, or bus to, from, and on campus
  • 56 percent of solid waste diverted from the landfill
  • 60+ student sustainability organizations
  • 18 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • 15 percent reduction in water use since 2005

Editor’s Note: The Sierra Club re-ran the data after finding an error in scoring tool used to calculate the original results, causing Penn State’s ranking to fall from No. 35 to No. 38. This story was updated to reflect those changes.

About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.


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