Richmond, Va.
Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015

VCU again one of country’s ‘coolest schools’

Sierra magazine ranks VCU’s sustainability efforts 39th in the nation

Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013

What makes a school cool? And is it still cool to say “cool?”

The jury may still be out on the latter question, but, for the former, Sierra magazine says a university keeps its cool with LEED-certified buildings, low-flow toilets and an abundance of blue recycling bins – all of which are but a small part of Virginia Commonwealth University’s commitment to sustainability.

In the magazine’s seventh annual ranking of the nation’s greenest universities, VCU placed in the top 25 percent of schools for the second year in a row. The rankings appear in the magazine’s  Coolest Schools 2013 edition. The university was 39th out of 162 schools measured. Other Virginia schools ranked  in the survey include George Mason University (69th), the University of Virginia (84th), the University of Richmond (100th) and Lynchburg College (159th).

Jacek Ghosh, director of sustainability, is pleased with this year’s ranking, but also sees it as a learning opportunity for targeting areas of improvement before the 2014 survey.

"My hope is that we have a robust list of sustainability-focused and related academic courses and research initiatives, more sustainable computer purchases, more alternative fuel vehicles in the campus fleet and more opportunities to employ renewable energy on campus – all of which would help raise VCU's score next year,” he said.

The four-year undergraduate colleges on this year’s list were judged based on self-submitted responses to the Campus Sustainability Data Collector survey, created through the joint efforts of the Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Endowments Institute and the Princeton Review. Its questions focused on measurable environmental achievements and goals.

To find out more about VCU’s green initiatives, visit:


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Sierra Magazine’s September/October 2013 issue
VCU’s Community Garden, located at 10th and Duval streets on the MCV campus, is just one of the ways the university is encouraging sustainability. Photo credit to Keeley Laures.