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Eco-friendly universities: UCLA, Santa Cruz and Berkeley going greener

August 21, 2009 |  7:05 am

Cogen  Biketrailer

These days "cool school" doesn't just mean that a university has laid-back drinking policies. A "cool school" is one that recycles waste, provides transit and saves energy, according to the Sierra Club's report card for eco-friendly universities, released Thursday.

With about two-thirds of applicants reportedly taking eco-friendliness into account when choosing a college,  three California schools that were among Sierra Club's top 10 have something to brag about. UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley and UCLA ranked seventh, eighth and ninth in the report, respectively.

Santa Cruz received a perfect 10 for its transportation system, which includes bike shuttles that transport up to 300 commuters and their bikes to campus each day. Many of the bikers are former drivers who just need a little help up the hill, according to Larry Pageler, Director of Transportation and Parking Services at UC Santa Cruz.

UCLA scored a 10 for waste management practices. It composts leftover dining hall food, uses biodegradable eating utensils, and recycles water from labs and air-conditioning.The university also boasts its own natural gas-fired cogeneration plant, which provides 70% of school's electricity and 100% of its heating and cooling. The plant is twice as efficient as a conventional power plant and gets 7% of its gas from a nearby landfill.

University of Colorado, Boulder, ranked first in the survey, followed by the University of Washington at Seattle, Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, College of the Atlantic and Evergreen State College.

--Amy Littlefield 

Photos: Bike shuttles at UC Santa Cruz, left, and UCLA's cogeneration plant, right are examples of green innovation at California universities. Credit: UCSC and UCLA; used with permission