COA Joins Green Elite



BAR HARBOR — For the second year in a row, College of the Atlantic has made it onto The Princeton Review’s “green” honor roll, one of only a handful of colleges to make the cut.

“At COA, we are committed to practicing what we teach. We are training the future leaders of the world – and we believe that the very health of our planet and its people lies in their hands,” says David Hales, COA president.

This year, 15 colleges and universities made the review’s honor roll of green colleges. COA is one of only nine schools in the nation to receive the honor both years. And Maine is the only state to have two colleges on the list for both years: COA and Bates College.

College of the Atlantic has a heritage of sustainability, a spokesman said. Founded in 1969, it has promoted environmental legislation locally and internationally. In 2007, it became the first college to be entirely carbon neutral. Sustainability at COA is structural. Whether students study poetry, public policy or physics, all graduates earn a degree in human ecology. The single degree means that faculty and students approach all studies in an interdisciplinary manner, deeply considering the connection between humans and the environment — natural, social and built, a spokesman said.

Princeton Review’s listings measure an institution’s environmentalism on a scale of 60 to 99, collecting data from 697 institutions concerning environmentally related policies, practices and academic offerings. The survey focuses on three areas: a healthy and sustainable campus quality of life, preparation of students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges, and the school’s overall commitment to environmental issues.

COA is one of only six colleges worldwide to be part of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Climate Neutral Network. See www.unep.org for more information.

That Princeton Review’s honor roll has expanded this year from 11 to 15 colleges, and that the review found a 30 percent increase in participating colleges, said Mr. Hales, means that academic institutions across the nation recognize the importance of educating future generations on sustainable models. This year, according to the review, more than two-thirds of students surveyed noted that they valued having information about a college’s environmental commitment; more than a quarter of the students said that this information would impact their college choice.

Sustainability is not a frill, Mr. Hales said. “Institutions everywhere are recognizing that sustainability is not only the right thing to do, it is also ultimately the fiscally responsible thing to do. If a college with 320 students and a small endowment can become carbon neutral and lead the way toward a truly sustainable environment, so can any college – or business, or institution, or home.”

COA’s commitment to practicing what it teaches extends to the students. They don’t just study climate change, they work to mitigate its effects, taking international leadership roles, attending United Nations climate change meetings, and conducting energy audits locally, a spokesman said. Last August, COA inaugurated a new complex of exceptionally “green” student residences and announced an undergraduate program in sustainable business. In September, the college announced a Trans-Atlantic Partnership in Sustainable Food Systems. Many of the steps COA followed toward sustainability are on its website, www.coa.edu.

The other eight colleges to appear on both years of The Princeton Review’s honor roll are, in alphabetical order: Arizona State University at Tempe, Bates College in Lewiston, the State University of New York at Binghamton, Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., the University of New Hampshire in Durham, University of Washington (Seattle), and Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

For more environmental news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

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