(Posted September 6, 2016)

Juniata College students prepare the soil for a community garden.
Juniata College students prepare the soil for a community garden.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College has been included as one of 202 institutions rated in Sierra Magazine's Cool Schools 2016 national rankings, which uses sustainability and "greenness" as benchmarks for its national poll. "Juniata is happy to join the ranks of one of the country's top 200 sustainable colleges and universities, " says James A. Troha, president of Juniata College. "While the goal of becoming a more sustainable institution is one that is never truly finished, we look forward to improving our standing in this highly respected rankings project." Juniata has been included in the rankings for the first time since the magazine started the rankings project in 2007. The Sierra Club, in coordination with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), collected data from participating schools to evaluate "measurable environmental achievements and goals, with "priority given to achievements," according to Sierra magazine. In 2016, the magazine's scoring methodology was updated to reflect trends in campus sustainability. In past years, the poll rewarded schools simply for conducting audits and surveys of their sustainability operations. Since launching the Cools Schools rankings 10 years ago, higher education has come a long way in terms of incorporating sustainability values. Sierra rated its poll using measurable factors. The magazine asked questions having to do with energy and transportation, which carried more weight than ever before -- a reflection of the fact that global climate change is the most pressing environmental threat today. The poll added one additional question regarding institutions' investments in fossil fuel companies, as the Sierra Club believes that fossil fuel divestment is an important strategy for transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy economy. "As with any kind of ranking, there's an element of subjectivity in what we choose to highlight," says Jason Mark, editor of Sierra, the official magazine of the Sierra Club. "Our scoring is designed to reflect the Sierra Club's larger goals and priorities. That said, we believe our rankings provide an accurate picture of how schools are performing in terms of sustainability." Sierra is the official publication of the Sierra Club, America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, go to sierramagazine.com.

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.