Fairfield University named one of the 'Cool Schools' by the Sierra Club


Fairfield University has been named one of the nation's "Cool Schools" by the Sierra Club for its environmentally friendly efforts.

The oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the country, the Sierra Club recently published its third annual 'Cool Schools' list of the most "eco-enlightened" universities in the United States, and Fairfield made the cut for its planet-preserving initiatives. Sierra magazine ranked Fairfield second among the four Connecticut universities and colleges to make the list of 135 schools. Yale ranked among the top 20. Fairfield was number 80 overall on the list.

The survey covered eight categories: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, and administration. Schools could earn up to ten points in each category. Fairfield's highest mark of seven came for its administration efforts. They have been extensive, including President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., appointing a university-wide committee tasked with overseeing campus sustainability.

Fairfield has also made a commitment to reduce its impact on climate change by setting goals of carbon footprint reductions and is striving for carbon neutrality. A greenhouse-gas inventory was even done of the campus. The University also made a major investment into building a Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP), part of the University's effort to create its own energy source, reduce its carbon footprint and emissions and lessen its reliance on electricity from the power grid.

In addition to the administration, students, faculty and staff have been crucial to Fairfield's green efforts with campus organizations such as the Environmental Steering Committee, Student Environmental Association, the Green Campus Initiative and 'From Red to Green' movement playing important roles.

The University of Colorado, Boulder was tops on the "Cool Schools" list with the University of Washington, Seattle and Middlebury College close behind.

Interestingly, Sierra magazine observed that years ago, high school students looking at colleges to attend were mainly concerned with three factors: prestige, location and social life. "These days, however," said editors, "applicants look for something more: a school with green credentials."

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 28, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 69