SUNY Cortland is one of the greenest colleges in the United States, according to a new national ranking that looks at how successful campuses have been at implementing environmentally sustainable practices and polices.
The College, the 29th highest scorer in BestColleges.com’s 2015 Greenest Universities ranking, is the only SUNY institution on the list, and one of only four institutions from New York state to make the grade.
“State University of New York at Cortland has shown dedication to lessening its impact on our planet by adopting policies that reflect an environmental ethos,” said Ethan Miller, outreach associate for BestColleges.com, a college planning website. “Programs like SUNY Cortland’s show our communities that there is a better way, allowing large institutions to thrive within a framework of sustainability.”
The ranking is based on scores achieved through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a voluntary system that allows different colleges and universities to report trends and track their sustainability efforts.
SUNY Cortland is one of only 77 campuses nationwide to win a gold rating in the assessment, a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. No other SUNY campuses have scored that well, and only one school in the United States — Colorado State — has done better by achieving a platinum designation.
“It is impressive to think how far we have come in such a short period of time,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “When it comes to our sustainability mission, rankings like this illustrate how truly committed the College is to reducing its carbon footprint, using all its resources effectively and raising awareness of environmental issues among our students and in our community.”
STARS is a self-reported assessment that collects a wide range of sustainability information on College initiatives, capital improvements, academic programs and other issues. Once completed, it serves as a baseline for measuring progress on a campus’s environmental goals. It must be upgraded every three years.
In 2012, SUNY Cortland earned a silver rating in STARS. Since then, the College became the first SUNY campus to fill all of its electrical needs with renewable energy, build a residence hall with the highest possible rating under the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system, and earn membership into the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Club. A year ago, SUNY Cortland threw the switch on 3,600 new solar panels.