Person bicycling in Aldrich Park.
Among its many sustainability achievements, UCI has been designated as a Tree Campus USA through the Arbor Day Foundation since 2010 for its efforts in establishing and maintaining an urban tree canopy, such as the one in Aldrich Park. Steve Zylius / UCI

The Princeton Review has released its 2024 Guide to Green Colleges, listing the top 50 environmentally conscious schools. UCI came in ninth and was the highest-ranked UC campus on the list. The Guide to Green Colleges is an online resource the company has published since 2010 for college applicants wanting to attend schools that foster a culture of environmental responsibility. Based primarily on the company’s surveys of administrators at 683 colleges in 2022-23 and its analyses of more than 25 survey data points, the 2024 edition of the guide features profiles of 522 schools, with details on their green distinctions, academics and admission requirements, plus a ranking of the Top 50 Green Colleges. According to the Princeton Review, “the schools that were selected … all have exceptional programs, policies and practices related to sustainability and the environment.” UCI also was noted as one of 40 schools that made the 2024 Green Honor Roll by receiving a score of 99 (the highest possible) in the green rating tallies.

No stranger to sustainability accolades, UCI has been in the top 10 for 12 straight years in Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools ranking of sustainability leaders, including four first-place finishes, on the strength of its curriculum, research, campus operations and public engagement. UCI’s history of environmental stewardship dates back to the Nobel Prize-winning research by chemistry professor F. Sherwood Rowland into the depletion of the ozone layer almost five decades ago. This work led to the development and growth of UCI’s campus culture of eco-friendly practices, groundbreaking sustainability research and remarkable green accomplishments that has put the university at the forefront of American higher education.

Previously, UCI was recognized by the Green Fleet Awards as having the 10th-greenest fleet in the nation, making it the highest-ranked university on the list. It also won the Best University or College Fleet Merit Award for its reduction in fuel consumption and use of electrified student transportation. In 2018, UCI became the first university in the country to abandon its traditional, diesel fuel-powered buses and shift to completely sustainable transportation with a fleet of 20 all-electric shuttle buses and a hydrogen fuel cell bus that transport students throughout campus.

Over the past several years, UCI has boosted its number of electric vehicle charging stations and converted its central plant to a system that conserves over 80 million gallons of potable water per year while cooling campus buildings – 21 of which are certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum and seven of which are zero-waste facilities. UCI has the most LEED Platinum buildings of any U.S. campus.