August 27, 2018

SIU Carbondale recognized as a Sierra Club ‘Cool School’ for third consecutive year

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For the third consecutive year, Southern Illinois University Carbondale has earned a spot on the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” list.

The university climbed 40 spots on the 2018 list, earning a rank of 156. SIU is one of just two Illinois public institutions to rank among the top 160.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition,” Lori Stettler, vice chancellor for student affairs, said.

“The Sustainability Office team has worked to catalyze action across campus, and this recognition is a reflection of that growing presence of sustainability at SIU.”

Numerous factors involved in scoring

“Sierra” magazine collaborates with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) to collect ranking data and establish ranking methodology. SIU has already earned a three-year silver Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) designation from AASHE. In order to qualify for Sierra Cool Schools evaluation, an institution must have at least a bronze STARS ranking.

Then, criteria from 18 different categories were used to calculate the Sierra scores. Curriculum, research, air and climate, campus and public engagement, buildings, energy, food and dining, purchasing, grounds, transportation, water, waste, and numerous other factors were evaluated. Weighted scoring adjustments were applied — with greater emphasis on factors such as energy, air and climate, transportation, public engagement and curriculum — to reach the final scores.

Sustainability learned and practiced at SIU

SIU’s curriculum scored particularly well within the “2018 Cool Schools” marks.

There are currently more than 120 students enrolled in SIU’s environmental studies minor; they come from 30 different majors and represent every college on campus. Sustainability is also a component of various other classes at SIU. Additional details about sustainability-related courses and programs is available online.

“Our students know the importance of sustainability and they are requesting opportunities and decisions that reflect this worldwide priority,” Geory Kurtzhals, sustainability coordinator, said.

She also emphasized that students, faculty, and staff can all get involved.

“We offer many options, including the Saluki Green Action Team, serving on the Sustainability Council, becoming a Sustainability Fellow, and more. In addition, faculty and staff across campus are responding to this demand by offering more opportunities for engagement,” she said. “We ask anyone on campus to pause for a moment and consider what they can do in their role to make our campus more sustainable. If you need help with an idea, contact us. We’d love to help you think through your ideas for a more sustainable SIU!”

Learn more about campus sustainability

To find out more about the green initiatives and SIU sustainability efforts, visit