CSU No. 5 on Princeton Review’s 2023 Top Green Colleges list

Students sewing during a CSU Patchwork Initiative.

Colorado State University is the No. 5 green college according to The Princeton Review’s annual Top Green Colleges list.

The list ranks colleges around the world on their sustainability efforts for both the physical campus and the experience they provide students, faculty and employees.

The Princeton Review named 455 colleges to their 2023 Green Colleges list. CSU was one of 31 schools to receive the highest possible score of 99, which marks the eighth time that CSU has achieved this score.

CSU has made The Green Colleges list every year since it was first published in 2010, and has been ranked among the top 10 colleges every year since 2017, when The Princeton Review began including rankings.

“This ranking helps prospective students identify colleges and universities with a deep commitment to sustainability. For CSU to be ranked so highly year after year is a testament to our success in integrating sustainability into curriculum, research, engagement, and operations,” said Tonie Miyamoto, director of communications and sustainability for the Division of Student Affairs.

‘Part of a movement’

An instructor teaches a student during CSU's Patchwork Initiative.
Students in the Patches Club learn how to darn socks as a sustainability effort at CSU last March.

Colorado State University’s high ranking also places it on The Green Honor Roll, a subset of the Top Green Colleges list. Schools chosen for this additional accolade are judged on whether students have a quality of life on campus that is both healthy and sustainable, how well-prepared students are for employment in the growing green economy, and commitment to advancing sustainability on-campus.

“Climate change, biodiversity loss, and global inequality require that society and business shift to more sustainable practices and behaviors,” said Grace Wright, sustainability initiatives specialist at CSU’s College of Business. “CSU is part of a movement of educational institutions that have committed to building a more just and sustainable future by preparing students to be sustainability leaders in their workplaces and communities.”

The sustainability efforts of CSU’s student body also contribute to the school’s top 5 ranking. CSU is home to several student environmental groups, including the Student Sustainability Center that is part of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, and ASCSU Environmental Affairs.

These clubs spearhead environmental initiatives such as The Zero Waste Team, which works to divert all of CSU’s organic waste from landfills and ensure clean compost and recycling streams, and the Patchwork Initiative, which prioritizes repairing clothes instead of throwing them away.

“CSU’s students have been, and always will be, the guiding force behind our school’s incredible sustainability reputation and rankings,” said Sam Moccia, director of the Student Sustainability Center. “Since our origins as an agricultural school, to today’s numerous clubs, student-led projects, and immense sustainability initiatives, it’s been students carrying the energy of progress and urging our campus to become greener, year after year. That’s reflected, clearly, in the pride of the student community.”

CSU tops Colorado rankings

Criteria for the Top Green Colleges designation include student assessments of how sustainability issues influence their academic and campus experiences, administrator and student support for environmental awareness and conservation efforts, and visibility and impact of student environmental groups.

Facilities and other physical factors also weigh in the Top Green Colleges rankings, such as green energy use and pollution mitigation, available transportation alternatives, and how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are.

CSU’s No. 5 ranking is an improvement from the eighth spot on last year’s list, and puts CSU back in the top 5 for the first time since 2017.

CSU’s platinum AASHE STARS rating also played a factor in achieving the No. 5 spot on The Princeton Review’s list. Of the eight colleges in Colorado on the list of 455 Green Colleges, CSU is the only one on The Green Honor Roll, and the only one with a Platinum STARS rating.