August 17, 2011

UW named Americas 'coolest' school by Sierra Magazine

News and Information

Whats the coolest university in America? By one significant measure, its the University of Washington.

UW volunteers sort recyclable  and compostable material at the 2011 UW Trash-In. From left, they are Nanda Guajardo of Recycling & Solid Waste, and students Martin Su and Krysta Yousoufian, both members of SEED (Students Expressing Environmental Dedication).

Alex Credgington

UW volunteers sort recyclable and compostable material at the 2011 UW Trash-In. From left, they are Nanda Guajardo of Recycling & Solid Waste, and students Martin Su and Krysta Yousoufian, both members of SEED (Students Expressing Environmental Dedication).

Sierra Magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, has named the University of Washington the top university in the country for its initiatives to operate sustainably and limit its contributions to global warming. This is the fourth year the UW has been among the top-ranked schools; it was fourth last year.

See the complete list of “cool schools.”

Schools were ranked on 10 factors: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments and other initiatives. The award includes all three UW campuses.

“We take great pride in the leadership the University has shown in reducing our impact on the environment and operating as sustainably as we know how,” said UW President Michael Young. “Many students, faculty, and staff have worked tremendously hard over the years to accomplish these goals, and it is very gratifying to see their commitment and effort rewarded by this outstanding recognition from Sierra Magazine. Its a great No. 1 position to hold.”

The University established a formal policy on environmental stewardship and has developed an ambitious Climate Action Plan, a document laying out the broad strategies the UW will use to become climate neutral.  The UW is a founding member of the Seattle Climate Partnership and is a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.  The Universitys Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee is supported by the Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Office.

A participant of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid project, the UW will install meters and equipment to measure energy consumption at two residence halls and two academic or research buildings. The $9.6 million project also will allow the UW to standardize and modernize the campus building energy management infrastructure by upgrading electrical building meters to smart meters in as many as 200 buildings. These building systems will be tied together to provide a common platform for managing energy consumption.

The UW   implements wide-ranging energy conservation projects and UW Housing & Food Services emphasize local organic and natural foods.  The university has committed to build all state-funded, federal stimulus funded, and specific client goal directed new construction and major renovation projects to at least LEED Silver standards. The UW encourages the community to use alternative transportation and in the spring quarter launched “UW Zimride,” a social networking ride sharing program. The UW also boasts a fleet of more than 300 alternative fuel, hybrid, electric and biodiesel-powered vehicles and trucks.

UWs Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee fosters collaboration with students, faculty and staff playing an integral role with guiding the universitys sustainability goals. In 2010, student activists created the Campus Sustainability Fund, which dedicates a portion of the Student Activities Fee to support projects that increase campus sustainability, prioritize student leadership and involvement and include outreach and education components. There are currently 16 funded projects, including the UW Urban Farm expansion, Food Co-Op and Do-It-Yourself Bicycle Repair Stations.