CHRISTOPHER CAMERON / THE STATESMAN
Stony Brook University has been ranked by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s top green schools. The Princeton Review’s 2014 Green Ratings gave the university a score of 99, the highest possible score on the 60-99 scale used to judge the schools across the nation. CHRISTOPHER CAMERON / THE STATESMAN

As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side. But according to the Princeton Review’s latest rankings of the nation’s top “green” schools, it would be difficult to find a school with greener pastures than Stony Brook University.

Ranked fourth in the entire country by the Princeton Review’s 2015 Guide to 353 Green Colleges, Stony Brook has cemented itself as one of the most environmentally-friendly schools in the United States.

The Princeton Review also includes Stony Brook on its 2015 Best 379 Colleges and Best Northeastern lists. The Princeton Review website’s description of Stony Brook states that students at Stony Brook University “get all the advantages of a ‘premiere science and research university,’ while also benefitting from the diverse atmosphere and low tuition costs of a large public institution.”

The ranking was the result of multiple initiatives the university put forward, such as operating 10 electric vehicle charging stations across campuses, actively promoting bicycles on campus, installing multiple solar arrays, using biodegradable food packaging in university dining halls and recycling the most e-waste of all colleges and universities for “RecycleMania” in 2013 and 2014, according to a university press release.

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The Princeton Review’s 2014 Green Ratings, which scored institutions on a scale of 60–99, also factored into the rankings. SBU came in with 99, the highest possible score.

In terms of dollar value, Stony Brook’s tuition rate is significantly lower than those of its competition. SBU was listed by the Princeton Review at $19,590 for the year (for non-New York residents), and the next most affordable school on the list is Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, which is ranked 28th.

Enrollment is also a telling statistic. Stony Brook is one of only two schools within the top 10 to have more than 15,000 undergraduate students enrolled, with the University of California at Santa Barbara being the other. SBU has over 16,000 undergraduates, while Lewis & Clark College and Green Mountain College, the nation’s top two schools on the rankings, have fewer than 2,200.

Stony Brook is not the only State University of New York school on the list. SUNY ESF, or the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, joins the list at 33rd.

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“We didn’t start as a SUNY-wide initiative,” Professor Larry Swanson, who is the associate dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook, said. “However, there are SUNY efforts on many, if not all, campuses. There may now be SUNY-wide coordination of education and programs that has grown out of each campuses effort. SBU has world famous environmental programs. It makes us look good to be ‘green’ if we want to promote these programs—we practice what we preach.”

While Swanson recognized that it was an honor to have such recognition, he added, “I doubt that many students make decisions on enrollment based on this type of award. There are many intangibles though, for example, how the campus looks.”

Yet, for Aaron Weisner, a junior environmental studies major, the ranking would have an impact on students who were looking to come to Stony Brook in the future.

“Once I graduate and head out into the workforce, I’m going to be proud to say that I have a Stony Brook degree, knowing that will give me an advantage over someone else who hasn’t gone to as prestigious of an institution,” Weisner said.

According to the Princeton Review, SBU boasts an acceptance rate of just 39 percent and an average high school GPA of 3.76 for incoming freshmen. The university remains not only the premier SUNY school when it comes to thinking about the environment, but one of the top schools in the nation.

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