University of San Diego Ranks 10th Nationally on Sierra Magazine's "Cool Schools" List

The University of San Diego ranks 10th nationally on the 2017 “Cool Schools” list of the greenest colleges and universities in a study released today by Sierra magazine.

USD is the highest-ranking school in San Diego County for its efforts to protect the environment, address climate change issues, and promote sustainability.

“We are honored to receive this national recognition that reflects our efforts to respond to Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’ or ‘On Care for Our Common Home’,” said USD President James T. Harris. “USD has developed a bold and comprehensive plan to turn the Pope’s call for dialogue into action, and this ranking is a testament to our ongoing sustainability efforts.”

Demonstrating that sustainability and beauty can go hand in hand, USD was also recognized earlier this month as the Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation by The Princeton Review, and  was one of only 24 universities in the country to earn a perfect score on its Green Rating, placing USD on The Princeton Review’s prestigious Green Honor Roll.

In the past year, USD has created a Climate Action Plan, calling for the university to reduce electricity and natural gas use by 35 percent and increase its use of clean, renewable energy by 40 percent by 2035. In the short term, the university has continued to reduce electricity consumption, make use of solar energy, and operate an Electronics Recycling Center on campus.

“Being recognized in the top 10 on the Cool School’s list is truly a campus-wide effort and we continue to be grateful for the institutional support as we expand our sustainability efforts,” said Michael Catanzaro, director of USD’s Office of Sustainability. 

Since 2010, USD has reduced campus energy consumption by more than 27 percent  with verified projects through San Diego Gas & Electric totaling more than 10 million kilowatt hours in savings. The E-Recycling Center has collected and properly disposed of more than three million pounds of electronic waste since it opened in 2011. 

USD’s 1.23-megawatt solar power system provides 7 percent of the university’s electricity needs. In 2016, the university also installed a Bloom Fuel Cell that provides the campus with approximately one-third of its electricity. 

All of USD’s efforts are connected to its Envisioning 2024 Strategic Plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024. 

“As a contemporary Catholic university committed to its rich Catholic intellectual and social justice traditions, we aspire to prepare our students to be enlightened, engaged and ecological citizens,” President Harris said.

For more on USD's sustainability efforts go to

View the Sierra Club's entire 2017 rankings and methodology. 

Participation in Sierra magazine's Cool School's ranking is open to all four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. In 2017, Sierra received 227 complete responses. As in past years, Sierra collaborated with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to gather the raw data. The association has created its STARS reporting tool to give colleges and universities a method for tracking and assessing their sustainability programs.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.