CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has been ranked 15th in the nation and is the top Oregon school in the Sierra Club’s annual “Cool Schools” rankings, which are based on the “greenness” of participating North American universities.

Oregon State moved up five spots from 2017. Two other Oregon schools made the top 20, with University Oregon at 16 and Lewis & Clark College in Portland at 17.

The Cool Schools rankings, now in their 12th year, were released today by the Sierra Club’s “Sierra” magazine. The rankings are open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the nation; a record-breaking 269 schools in 36 states, Washington D.C., and Canada submitted entries this year.

“I’m thrilled OSU has moved to number 15 in the nation, particularly given the amazing things happening at hundreds of schools across the nation,” said Brandon Trelstad, Oregon State’s sustainability officer. “The bar gets set higher each year, and even in that context, OSU has continued to demonstrate excellence in many programs.” 

Using a customized scoring system, Sierra’s researchers ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high sustainability standards. Schools were ranked based on academic criteria like curriculum that discusses sustainability, engagement such as campus activism, operations like on-campus recycling and waste management, and on planning and administrative standards.

As with previous years, OSU scored well in sections measuring student engagement; sustainability related research, particularly climate change research; and land stewardship. This year, the university’s scores improved slightly in investment, innovation and waste reduction programming.

“I think much of OSU’s recent success is due to our increased focus on sustainability assessment and systemic change,” Trelstad said. “We have solid top down support and ever-increasing interest from students and the community. OSU is a great place to do this work, but we recognize how far we have to go. My hope is that our added emphasis on equity, diversity and social justice in our work creates a more sustainable community for everyone.”

To view the full rankings and see the scoring for each university, visit:

General OSU

About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 36,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport, OSU Portland Center and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

Story By: 

Michelle Klampe, 541-737-0784, [email protected]


Brandon Trelstad, 541-737-3307, [email protected]


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