The Sierra Club, one of the best known environmental organizations, has recognized Cal Poly Pomona for its efforts to promote sustainability and develop a “green” campus.
The university placed 48th on the organization’s Cool Schools list for 2013. It was the highest rated CSU campus to make the list and was accompanied by three others — Chico, Channel Islands and Monterey Bay.
The rankings grade colleges and universities in several categories, including recycling, water conservation, clean energy sources and community outreach.
Kyle D. Brown, director of the university’s Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, which promotes environmentally sustainable living, says Cal Poly Pomona scored well in some big areas, such as using reclaimed water for irrigation and the use of solar panels, as well as in less obvious ways, such as having environmentally conscious student clubs.
“There’s just a whole host of little things being done by a lot of entities on campus,” Brown says. “It’s always exciting to go around campus and hear all the things people are doing.”
Of note, Brown says, are the Collins College’s efforts to promote sustainable practices in the hospitality industry, and the university’s freshman housing requirement, which means fewer commuters. There’s also the sustainability fellowship program run by the Lyle Center that places Cal Poly Pomona students in local elementary schools for outreach.
“One of the things they look for is whether the university is going to be a leader in the community in promoting sustainability,” Brown says.
Though the ranking is high profile, it’s not just a publicity tool, Brown says. The scoring can help the university identify ways to improve its sustainability efforts, he says. It can also help environmentally conscious applicants decide whether Cal Poly Pomona is the right university for them.
“It’s argued that students, when applying to schools, are beginning to take this into account,” he says.