UNE named to Princeton Review's Green College guide for sixth straight year
The University of New England has once again been named one of the nation's most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review.
The education services company known for its college rankings, books, and test preparation services features UNE in its annual book “Guide to Green Colleges: 2023 Edition,” which was published on Oct. 25. This year’s edition profiles 455 four-year colleges and universities chosen for their deep commitments to the environment and sustainability.
This is the sixth consecutive year UNE has been named a top green college by The Princeton Review.
The rankings were decided based on survey data of 713 institutions concerning sustainability-related institutional policies, practices, and programs; healthy and sustainable campus qualities of life; and student feedback on topics ranging from academic offerings and campus initiatives to career preparation for sustainability-focused jobs.
Based on more than 25 data points from the survey, schools were assigned a “Green Rating” of 60 to 99, and the 455 schools with a Green Rating higher than 80 made the list. UNE was assigned a Green Rating of 94.
Scott Steinberg, M.B.A., vice president of University Admissions, said a college or university’s track record on sustainability issues is an increasingly important factor among prospective students.
"How ‘green’ colleges are matters, consistently, now more than ever, to prospective students and their parents,” Steinberg stated. “UNE demonstrates its commitment to environmental issues through our strategic planning, programs, facilities, and initiatives. It is very gratifying to have UNE’s work in sustainability continue to be nationally recognized.”
According to The Princeton Review, 77% of college-bound teens and their parents said having information about a college or university’s commitment to the environment would affect their decision to apply to or attend a school, versus 66% just two years ago.
In its profile on UNE, The Princeton Review cites the University’s sustainability focused degrees and committees, ride and bike sharing programs, and local food purchasing, among other attributes, as desirable green qualities. UNE also boasts a Green Office Program, the Edible Campus Initiative, sustainability focused landscaping and building design plans, hands-on learning opportunities for students, and student groups focused on sustainable initiatives.
“Students are deeply concerned about climate change and environmental justice, and it's spurring them to get involved in clubs and organizations and campaigns — anything that gives them hope and helps them feel like they are making a difference,” said Alethea Cariddi, M.S.Ed., assistant director of Sustainability at UNE. “We want to support this energy and provide a campus that helps them grow and learn about what they can do to improve and contribute to the world.”
UNE has for years been a leader in sustainability in higher education, having adopted its first Climate Action Plan in 2010. In 2015, UNE began academically engaging undergraduate students in climate change topics by offering an interdisciplinary minor in Climate Change Studies.
Early in 2021, UNE adopted a carbon-reduced portfolio for the University’s endowment and, last November, signed a two-year contract to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for 13 of its electricity accounts that service its two Maine campuses.
These third-party, Green-e certified RECs represent the environmental benefit of 100% renewable wind energy and offset about 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents — roughly half of all the electricity purchased by the University — to ameliorate the impact of the University’s carbon emissions, Cariddi said.