It’s back-to-school time for college students across the country, and some of these students will be attending one of America’s greenest colleges. The Sierra Club has just released its Cool Schools 2010 list and Vermont’s Green Mountain College (GMC) earned the top spot with an overall score of 88.6. Last year, Green Mountain College didn’t even make the 2009 Cool Schools top 20.

According to the Sierra Club, “GMC excels in most categories, and it's the MVP when it comes to creativity. The campus gets power and heat from biomass and biogas (a.k.a. cow power).”

The 2010 Cool Schools Top 10 list looks like this:

  1. Green Mountain College – Poultney, Vt.
  2. Dickinson College – Carlisle, Pa.
  3. Evergreen State College – Olympia, Wash.
  4. University of Washington – Seattle
  5. Stanford University – Stanford, Calif.
  6. University of California, Irvine – Irvine, Calif.
  7. Northland College – Ashland, Wisc.
  8. Harvard University – Cambridge, Mass.
  9. College of the Atlantic – Bar Harbor, Me.
  10. Hampshire College – Amherst, Mass.
The top 10 list this year looks quite different than last year's top 10 list. Only three of last year’s top 10 made the list this year. Harvard University jumped from number 11 in 2009 to number 8 this year and Dickinson College jumped from #19 last year to the number two spot this year.

Last year’s first -place school, the University of Colorado, Boulder, came in at number 13 this year. My alma mater, Arizona State University, dropped from number 13 last year to number 34 this year.

The Sierra Club also recognized six schools as most improved: Southern Illinois University Carbondale, the University of Missouri, Appalachian State University, Lawrence University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Portland State University in Oregon.

To earn a spot on the most improved list, Rochester Institute of Technology invested millions of dollars in an energy system overhaul and hosted a “Greeks Go Green” contest to get the school’s Greek system involved in the go green movement.

To find out where your school ranked, check out the list of all 162 schools on the 2010 Cool Schools list.

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