“Leadership in sustainability could give [University of Florida] the edge it needs to be a Top 10 public university.” That’s the beginning of an article from UF’s student paper The Alligator. Now read it again. (Just do it. Work with me, people!) Do you understand what that means? Let me spell it out for you: Sustainability = Mad Props. Really. That’s what it says.

And apparently it’s a growing trend; colleges are seeing green cred as an important factor in attracting students and getting high rankings from Those People Who Decide Which Colleges Are the Best and Which Ones Suck. And one way many schools are going for the green is by powering up renewable energy on their campuses. (Ha! “Powering up” … you love it!)

Schools ranging in size from community colleges to major Ivy Leagues are moving toward renewable energy use (and gaining loads of green cred in the process):

  • Napa Valley College has installed Northern California’s largest solar array to provide 40 percent of its power.
  • The Massachusetts Maritime Academy is erecting a wind turbine in hopes of cutting electric bills in half.
  • Yale plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent below 1990 levels (hello, DIY Kyoto!) by investing in energy conservation and alternative energy sources.

And these schools certainly are not alone. The EPA, as part of their Green Power Partnership program (PDF), has even begun compiling rankings of green powerhouses in the higher education sector. Unfortunately, the EPA’s “Big Ten” are determined by purchasing power (in megawatt-hours) and not percentage — thus the University of Pennsylvania’s 40,000 MWh (10 percent of total energy use) beats out Western Washington University’s 35,000 MWh powering 100 percent of the school’s energy needs.

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Here’s the full list:

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. Western Washington University
  3. University of Utah
  4. Syracuse University
  5. Duke University
  6. Pennsylvania State University
  7. Harvard University
  8. The Evergreen State College (also 100 percent!)
  9. Oberlin College
  10. University of Buffalo

And those are just the top ten! Wo0t! Let’s hear it for all-the-rest-of-the-schools-who-are-using-renewable-energy! GO BIG GREEN! OK, I swear I’m done with the cheering. (Can someone help me up from the splits?)

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