College of the Atlantic Ornithologist Scott Swan points out waterbird species to a group of stude... College of the Atlantic Ornithologist Scott Swan points out waterbird species to a group of students gathered along the cliffs of nearby Acadia National Park. A close, experiential relationship with the environment guides many sustainability initiatives at COA.

For 13 years, Sierra has been ranking colleges according to which ones offer the best sustainability-focused courses, ecofriendly cafeteria provisions, and carbon-neutral land and energy policies, as well as the most opportunities to engage with the environmental movement. Since 2007, sustainability measures that once seemed cutting-edge have become the norm, and we’ve seen schools effect real Felipe Andrés Fontecilla Gutiérrez '21 takes part in the United Nations Framework Convention on C... Felipe Andrés Fontecilla Gutiérrez ’21 takes part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Bonn, Germany. Direct involvement with international climate politics is a key part of College of the Atlantic academics for many students.
Credit: Kiara Worth/IISD
change across their communities, regions, and states. This year, a record 282 schools vied to become the eco-savviest in all of academia. Please join us in congratulating the tremendously cool—and diverse—schools topping their class in the most crucial subject of all.

15. College of the Atlantic
Score: 78.86 | Bar Harbor, Maine

Early leaders in the fossil fuel divestment movement, the green minds behind the College of the Atlantic have set their sights on having a fossil-fuel-free, zero-waste campus by 2030. To that end, students have organized a Break Free From Plastic pledge (it’s why you’ll find broken fettuccine noodles moonlighting as coffee stirrers in the COA dining hall, where all waste is referred to as “discarded resources”). This fall, COA breaks ground on a new Center for Human Ecology, built according to German Passive House standards—meaning it’s designed to be largely heated by the human bodies inside and to use 80 percent less energy than other buildings. COA students run a robust Share the Harvest program to distribute the fruits of their two organic farms.

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