UW-Tacoma named America's "coolest" school by Sierra magazine

By Volcano Staff on August 17, 2011


The University of Washington is No. 1 nationwide on Sierra magazine's 2011 list of "Coolest Schools" - college and universities recognized for their efforts to stop global warming and to operate sustainably. The "Coolest Schools" are featured as the cover story of Sierra's September/October issue.

The University of Washington has appeared on the annual list ever since it was launched by Sierra in 2007. The rating is for the UW's three campuses in Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma. Yes, the Tacoma campus played a role in achieving the green designation.

"Placing first in sustainability for our campus is an honor," said Lia Wetzstein, instructional supervisor andco-chairwoman of the UW Tacoma Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Sustainability in a press release. "I feel like it's a responsibility to be a leader in sustainability in higher education."

Let's read the press release:  

At UW Tacoma, the Cherry Parkes and Mattress Factory buildings achieved LEED Silver certification, Philip Hall achieved Gold, and the Joy building is awaiting confirmation of the top rating of Platinum. In an example of the university's use of recycled materials, the Joy building also incorporated guardrails and screens made of salvaged beams and columns.

Meanwhile, the university's planned Hood Corridor project is being designed to meet goals in alternative transportation, energy reduction and water quality. The project, which will transform a historic rail corridor to park space, will include bike and pedestrian pathways that connect to the Prairie Line Trail through Tacoma and feature energy-efficient LED lighting. UW Tacoma is collaborating with the City of Tacoma on a system along the corridor to improve the quality of stormwater that currently flows untreated into the Foss Waterway.

On the academic front, the sustainability committee is working to create an interdisciplinary minor in sustainability. 

In other efforts, UW Tacoma:

  • Students maintain a composting station and "Giving Garden" to provide produce to the community.
  • Plans to install recharging stations for electric vehicles in the parking garage of the Court 17 apartment complex.
  • Plans to develop a central energy plant incorporating a low temperature loop and geothermal heat exchange to achieve campus carbon neutrality by 2030.
  • Begins a project Monday to replace aging heat pumps and air conditioning chiller units in several buildings with energy-efficient models that use an environmentally friendly refrigerant.

Schools were ranked on 10 factors: efficiency, energy, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments and other initiatives. The complete list of "cool schools" is available at http://www.sierraclub.org/coolschools

Other local schools on the list

The Evergreen State College ranked Ninth

Pacific Lutheran University ranked 24th