COA and GMC Top 2 Greenest Schools in the Nation

EcoLeague members College of the Atlantic (COA) in Bar Harbor, ME, and Green Mountain College (GMC) in Poultney, VT, came in at #1 and #2 in Sierra magazine’s list of environmentally focused “Cool Schools.” This marks COA’s second straight year atop Sierra’s rankings, while GMC became the only school to receive a spot in the top 15 for a remarkable 8 straight years. Divesting from fossil fuel companies and a commitment to diverting 90 percent of campus waste by 2025 have made COA a perennial leader in sustainability, where all 350 of its students study human ecology.

Image of a male student from College of the Atlantic installing solar panels. He has short brown hair and wears sunglasses, a grey T-shirt, and a yellow safety harness. He clutches a yellow rope in one hand.

A College of the Atlantic student installs solar panels at a local business.

The college boasts two organic farms, an island research station for the study of marine mammals, and proximity to Acadia National Park, where students have unique access to experiential learning. Other innovative programs include the Hatchery—where young entrepreneurs transform ideas into sustainable business models, and an initiative to promote the use of solar power at local farms and businesses.

“We’re proud of the changes we’ve made in moving away from fossil fuels and improving the sustainability of our college, notes College of the Atlantic President Darron Collins ’92. “But what’s most important is that students are involved to the fullest extent possible. This year our students led an effort to completely overhaul how we handle waste and think about consumption on campus, and class projects have installed solar panels and improved energy efficiency. We strongly believe that involving students in projects like this is crucial for preparing them to be effective environmental leaders.”

At GMC, which received the highest rating in Sierra’s curricular category for its green programs, ecological design students build electric tractors, tiny houses, and solar photovoltaic arrays on garages. The campus also features the Cerridwen Farm, which provides food for GMC’s cafeteria, and where students gain hands-on experience and participate in community supported agriculture programs.

All GMC students contribute to a greening fund selected through campus vote, which has sponsored past

Image of a white student with light brown hair and a dark-skinned student with black hair crouching down in the dirt of Green Mountain College's Cerridwen Farm. They hold crops in their outstretched hands. Both are smiling and wearing T-shirts and blue jeans.

Bella Powers and Merone Eckert harvest potatoes at GMC’s Cerridwen Farm

initiatives like bike-sharing, a biomass facility, and a bat habitat. On GMC’s consistently stellar rankings, college President Bob Allen remarks, “The latest honor is confirmation of what we’ve known all along—that

Green Mountain College is one of the best colleges in the United States in preparing students to meet our environmental, economic and social challenges. I’m particularly proud of the fact that GMC ranked number two in the nation.”

With numerous evolving innovations in Green education, COA and GMC figure to be mainstays at the top of Sierra’s “Cool Schools” list for years to come.

Article based on sources provided by,, and