MSUToday
Published: Nov. 18, 2019

MSU named a top 20 school for sustainability

Contact(s): Caroline Brooks Communications and Brand Strategy office: 517-432-0920 brooks78@msu.edu, Amy Butler Campus Sustainability office: 517-355-1751 butle223@msu.edu

Michigan State University is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review.

MSU ranked no. 19 on The Princeton Review's list of Top Green Colleges and is the only Big Ten school appearing in the top 50. The ranking was determined based on data from an institutional survey of college administrators and student surveys.

“Michigan State’s sustainability efforts are again recognized for leadership among our higher education peers,” said Interim Provost Teresa Sullivan. “MSU has the scope and scale to make a difference by reducing our carbon footprint at the same time we contribute global solutions through a wide range of research.”

As the nation’s pioneer land grant university and Michigan’s first agricultural college, MSU’s 5,200-acre campus is home to leading research and cutting-edge technologies in sustainability, award-winning programs that shepherd environmental stewardship and thousands of faculty, staff and students working to make a difference every day.

Some of the university’s greenest or biggest environmental achievements include:

  • Reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by more than half since 2006 and eliminating the burning of coal in 2016.
  • Constructing an anaerobic digester that converts food waste and other organic waste into green bio-gas based electricity, reducing MSU’s waste by more than 20,000 metric tons per year.
  • Achieving a Gold rating in 2019 from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System.
  • Housing the nation’s largest solar carport, which delivers the energy equivalent to powering 1,800 Michigan homes.
  • Offering three terminal degrees in sustainability; additionally, more than 250 undergraduate courses and 105 graduate level courses across 84 departments include sustainability curriculum.
  • Excelling in biodiversity and sustainable landscaping, including certification as a Tree Campus USA with over 17,600 trees and low-impact landscaping for stormwater protection.
  • Implementing the Clean Plates at State and the Eco-Rep programs through Residential and Hospitality Services, which raise awareness about post-consumer food waste in dining halls and engage residence hall residents in learning and practicing sustainable habits.
  • Diverting 55% of general building refuse from landfills through reuse, recycling and composting, as well as engaging more than 200 Waste Warriors to take active roles in managing campus waste as a resource.

“Seeing MSU included prominently on this ranking reflects our commitment to sustainability and celebrates our accomplishments in building the roadmap to a global sustainable future,” said Amy Butler, director of campus sustainability. “By exercising our framework of the ‘4 Cs’ – campus, curriculum, community and culture – we continuously cultivate and embed sustainability in all areas of the university.”

The Top Green Colleges ranking appeared in The Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges: 2019 Edition. The guide – which featured 413 schools – is based on a survey of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.

According to the Princeton Review, college applicants and their parents are increasingly concerned about sustainability issues. Among the 11,900 teens and parents surveyed earlier this year, 64% said that having information about a college's commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school.