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Sierra Club names CSUMB a 'Cool School'

The grades are out, and CSU Monterey Bay has received high marks as part of the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools rating of sustainability on U.S. campuses.

According to the club’s website, the Cool Schools program, now in its seventh year, evaluates colleges and universities on their contributions to promoting sustainability, both inside and outside the classroom.

Schools were evaluated on everything from the use of ecologically smart architecture to the strategies they use to teach students ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Programs and classes that promote sustainability through course curriculum or community engagement were also given high points.

The list ranks 162 schools based on responses to the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) survey, a self-reporting framework to measure sustainability performance. The STARS questionnaire asks about everything from where a campus gets its energy to whether its landscapers use native plants.

CSUMB earns points in the ranking for many practices, including vegetarian meal options, trayless dining halls, a centralized energy management system, and about 40 sustainability-related classes.

The university earned the most points – 99 of a maximum 107 – in the category of waste, in recognition of its efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. CSUMB’s top sustainable practices include:

• Energy: The 6.4-acre solar panel array generates about 16 percent of the energy consumed on campus, although this amount can vary depending on how much sun peeks through the fog. • Food: Most of the items served in campus dining facilities have traveled no more than 100 miles. • Transportation: Students can show their CSUMB username to ride the local bus system for free. • Recycling: Every room in the residence halls and each office has a blue recycle bin. Learn about sustainability practices at CSUMB

Top photo: Native and drought-tolerant plants dot the campus Bottom photo: About 16 percent of the university's energy comes from its solar array