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University Vaults to No. 6 in ‘Cool Schools’ Rankings

September 5, 2019
UC Merced jumped 44 spots from its previous high on the Sierra Club's
UC Merced jumped 44 spots from its previous high on the Sierra Club's "Cool Schools" list, ranking No. 6 for 2019.

UC Merced has made its way into another top 10 in national rankings, this time jumping up to No. 6 in the Sierra Club’s 2019 “Cool Schools” list. The university jumped 44 spots from its previous high, No. 50 in 2017.

This is the sixth Cool Schools appearance in the past eight years for UC Merced. The Sierra Club ranked a record 282 schools across the United States and Canada for their 13th annual listing of the greenest colleges and universities.

“The campus is a demonstrated leader in holistically integrating sustainability,” Assistant Director of Sustainability Breeana Sylvas said. “Faculty research and their passion for sustainability, which translates to curriculum focused on sustainability themes and concepts; our student leadership peer outreach and engagement on environmental practices; and staff dedication and collaboration on conversation centered around sustainability have all been instrumental in this achievement.”

The ranking is based on academic criteria such as environmentally focused curriculum, student engagement with environmental activism, operations, including renewable-energy generation and waste management, and schools’ planning and administrative standards.

Sierra Club released a statement that said, in part, “Each of the schools ranked in the top 20 have displayed a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate change, and encouraging environmental responsibility through their curriculum and on-campus operations.”

The university’s dedication to sustainability continues to grow. Last month, the university unveiled the Sustainability Research and Engineering Building — one of two research buildings that are part of the second phase of the Merced 2020 Project. The building houses the first Center of Excellence on campus, dedicated to collaborative work in sustainability.

In July, UC Merced received a STARS Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The university is about one point shy of platinum, an achievement only six schools in the world have reached. UC Merced was also highlighted in the AASHE Sustainability Campus Index 2019 as a top performing institution in five categories, including top 10 overall among doctoral institutions.