A college's commitment to sustainability is becoming more important to applicants, so to help them out The Princeton Review publishes an annual guide to 322 "green" schools. Here's a link to the 2012 version.
Thirty California campuses made the list, including three in the San Joaquin Valley: University of the Pacific; California State University, Stanislaus; and Fresno State, which is only three blocks from where I sit.
Academics, aesthetics, and extra-curricular activities still dominate the decision-making process, but 68 percent of students surveyed by Princeton Review in 2012 said environmental commitment was a contributing factor, according to this press release.
Here are some highlights about the three Valley schools, and some of the others:
University of the Pacific (Stockton)
1/ Sustainability is one of seven learning objectives for all students;
2/ All construction meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards;
3/ Home to the Natural Resources Institute, which is a forum for education and dialogue of natural resources
California State University, Stanislaus (Turlock)
1/ Green Campus Program pairs students with faculty and staff to develop energy plans and gain experience;
2/ Metal exterior of Naraghi Hall of Science is made from recycled material;
3/ Solar panels are due to be installed;
4/ New master's program in Ecology and Sustainability
Fresno State University (Fresno)
1/ Parking structure is the largest solar-covered parking structure on any U.S. college campus;
2/ New library has furniture made from recycled material;
3/ International Center for Water Technology is world renowned, and the college has slashed by a third the amount of water needed to irrigate the 380-acre campus core.
Other California campuses on the list include California State University, Monterey Bay (created a fund to pay for energy innovations on campus); Chico State University (Greeks Going Green, which promotes green programs in sororities and fraternities ); Humboldt State University (numerous green organizations); San Francisco State University (sustainability literacy course required for all students); University of California, Riverside (identified nine areas of campus sustainability)
Photo of University of The Pacific courtesy of university web site