Sterling College cited for its sustainability efforts by multiple outlets

Sierra magazine has again recognized Sterling by including the college in the top 11% of its “America’s Coolest Schools” list, a ranking of the nation’s greenest colleges and universities.

Sierra, the official publication of the Sierra Club, released its tenth annual “Cool Schools” ranking on September 6 of America’s most environmentally-minded colleges and universities. Sterling College finished with a score of 659.48 out of a possible 1000 points, placing it at the #23 slot, out of 202 colleges and universities, up 48 spots from last year.

“Being stewards of the environment is not new to Sterling; we were among the very first colleges to link our curriculum to concepts such as ecology, outdoor education, and sustainable agriculture,” said President Matthew Derr. “We were advocating for sustainability in the 1970s, and we continue to do so today. Our campus is a living system that supports our community and our educational mission, and we are the leading voice for environmental stewardship in higher education.”

Besides earning a top 25 place among the greenest schools in the nation, Sterling College is also the highest-ranked Work College on the “Cool Schools” list. There are currently eight federally-recognized Work Colleges in the United States, where all students, regardless of financial aid, must work on campus; Sterling College is the only Work College in the northeast.

Sterling College scored highly on endowment investments, curriculum, innovations, and food; in fact, Sterling was ranked #1 for sustainable food and dining, #3 for academics, and #6 for investments.

Additionally, this year Sierra magazine asked colleges and universities to answer questions on divestment; Sterling College was the first college in Vermont, and the third in the nation, to divest its endowment from fossil fuels, in 2013.

Sterling College is also one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to the Princeton Review’s Guide to 361 Green Colleges. The Review cited Sterling’s overall Green Rating score of 95, its sustainability-focused degrees, and its leadership in sustainable food and dining.

Sterling first appeared on the “Cool Schools” list in 2010. In 2012, the methodology changed, and became based on the extensive questionnaire through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Sterling College was also recognized as a top performer by AASHE in its 2016 Sustainable Campus Index. Sterling was ranked #1 for Food & Dining, tied for first place for Grounds as well as Coordination & Planning, ranked third in Curriculum, and third overall among 60 leading sustainable baccalaureate institutions.

“A lot of hard work from all across campus made this ranking possible,” Derr said. “We have no special office, no Director of Sustainability, no isolation of our sustainability effort, because we expect every person in our community to push for more sustainable and ecologically sensitive choices. We don’t rest on our laurels, no matter how green they might be.”

The full list can be found at

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