September 22, 2017 | Matt Kucinski

Calvin College's Knollcrest campus features 3,500 trees and a 100-acre Ecosystem Preserve.

A Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation.

An inclusion in Sierra Magazine's Coolest Schools edition.

A recipient of a silver rating from STARS.

And this week, included in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges.

While Calvin College’s traditional school colors are maroon and gold, top national environmental organizations and review guides are painting the college green.

While a handful of west Michigan colleges appear on some of these lists, Calvin College and Western Michigan University are the only two to be recognized by all four organizations in 2017. 

"Calvin College has a 30-year history of caring for creation. These recognitions highlight the work of many people all over campus who have contributed to Calvin reaching these milestones," said Gail Heffner, director of community engagement at Calvin College. "There is more work to do but we’re grateful for what these designations represent."

Princeton Review

Calvin is one of the 375 most environmentally responsible colleges according to the Princeton Review. The education services company known for its test prep and tutoring services, books, and college rankings features Calvin College in its 2017 edition of “The Princeton Guide to 375 Green Colleges.”

The Princeton Review chose the schools for this seventh annual edition of its "green guide" based on data from the company's 2016-17 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools' commitments to the environment and sustainability.

The Princeton Review chose the colleges based on "Green Rating" scores (from 60 to 99) that the company tallied in summer 2017 for 629 colleges using data from its 2016-17 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school's sustainability-related policies, practices, and programs. More than 25 data points were weighted in the assessment. Schools with Green Rating scores of 80 or higher made it into this guide.


In summer 2017, Calvin College received a silver rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. The STARS rating system spans all areas of campus sustainability and includes performance indicators and criteria organized into four categories: academics, engagement, operations and planning and administration.

Calvin is one of 420 institutions across the globe that have gone through the STARS rating system. The college has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education—the facilitators of the STARS program—since 2008, but this is only the second year Calvin has participated in STARS.

Sierra Magazine

In 2017, for the second straight year, Calvin College was included in Sierra's Cool Schools list. The national magazine of the Sierra Club, a 125-year old environmental organization in the U.S., each year identifies the most eco-literate colleges and universities. In 2017, they included 227 on the list.

Sierra, in partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, collects survey data from schools. The data is then analyzed by an independent source and schools are ranked based on that data.

Arbor Day Foundation

Since 2013, Calvin College has annually received a Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

To be recognized as a tree campus, the college has to meet Tree Campus USA's five standards for sustainable campus forestry. They include maintaining a tree advisory committee, having a campus tree-care plan, dedicating annual expenditures toward trees, observing Arbor Day and holding service-learning projects related to trees for students.

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