April 26, 2010 | last updated March 24, 2012 11:53 pm

Briefing: Green Colleges

The Princeton Review recently released a new guide to environmentally friendly colleges and universities, picking 286 standouts, and five Central Massachusetts institutions made the cut. The Framingham-based test prep company chose schools based on green building efforts, environmental course offerings and other sustainability programs.

Which Central Massachusetts schools were chosen?

Clark University, The College of the Holy Cross, Framingham State College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Worcester State College.

How were the colleges chosen?

Inclusion in the guide was based on a rating system that includes factors like the school's waste diversion rate, whether it requires that new buildings be LEED certified at the silver level, how much energy comes from green sources and whether it offers an environmental studies program.

Does sustainability matter to students?

A 2009 Princeton Review survey of college applicants and their parents found that 66 percent of respondents said they would value knowing about colleges' environmental credentials. Of that 66 percent, 24 percent said that knowledge would "very much" affect their decision on where to apply or where to attend school.

What stands out about the Central Massachusetts picks?

The Princeton Review noted a handful of "green highlights" for each school chosen. For example, Clark uses a specialized energy system to save money and reduce its use of oil and offers "The Sustainable University," a course melding environmental ideas and practices.

The report also noted that Holy Cross is working to become carbon neutral by 2040, and it offers a community garden and "slow food" dinners with local food.

Framingham State's green commitment includes making capital improvements like a re-lighting project in the gymnasium which will reduce electrical needs by 50 percent.

Meanwhile, WPI hosts the Massachusetts Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Institute, which unites colleges and university in research on hydrogen fuel, and it sends more engineering students abroad than any other U.S. college or university, offering many opportunities for them to work in sustainability projects.

Finally, Worcester State College uses a 100-kilowatt solar array, the largest on any campus in the state, which generates over 140,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.


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