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
With about two-thirds of applicants reportedly taking eco-friendliness into account when choosing a college, three California schools that were among the Sierra Club's top 20 have something to brag about. The report, released Thursday, ranked UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley and UCLA seventh, eighth and ninth, 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 cyclists are former drivers who just needed 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 the 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.