Let’s hear it for ZotWheels, Zipcars and Zimrides. Partly on the strength of these alternative transportation options, UC Irvine ranked sixth among 900 colleges and universities nationwide considered for the Sierra Club’s fourth annual Cool Schools list of the greenest institutions. “Incentives for alternative transportation minimize car commuting to UCI, even though it’s in SUV-obsessed Orange County,” says the September issue of Sierra magazine, released today.

The top 100 Cool Schools were determined from data collected in 11-page surveys. Eco-friendly energy supply was weighted most heavily, but nine other categories also were taken into account: efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments, and a catchall section titled “other initiatives.” No school scored a perfect 100; Green Mountain College in Vermont came closest, with 88.6, and UCI scored 84.4.

“This is right where UCI should be – in the top 10,” said Wendell Brase, vice chancellor for administrative & business services and chair of the University of California’s Climate Solutions Steering Group. “It’s an acknowledgement of many aspects of the campus community. UCI researchers are already at the forefront of climate change; our students are engaged on these issues; and our administrators, in collaboration with excellent colleagues from other California campuses, play a leadership role in finding large-scale solutions to achieving our goal of carbon neutrality.”

The award-winning ZotWheels bike-sharing program, Zipcar rentals and Zimride carpooling efforts are only part of UCI’s commitment to environmental responsibility. Undergraduate courses and degrees in biological and physical sciences, social ecology, health sciences and engineering highlight environmental issues. The university is a leader in sustainable construction, with seven LEED Gold designations from the U.S. Green Building Council. Mesa Court boasts UCI’s first zero-waste student dining hall, and an energy-saving campus lighting project has reduced carbon emissions by 7 percent in the past year.

For the entire list of Sierra Club Cool Schools, a full description of the ranking methodology, and institutions’ complete applications, go to www.sierraclub.org/coolschools.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.