PSU recognized as top “green” college

Portland State was recently named as one of the top “green” colleges in the U.S. by The Princeton Review, and is featured in the organization’s new book, Guide to 286 Green Colleges.

Portland State was recently named as one of the top “green” colleges in the U.S. by The Princeton Review, and is featured in the organization’s new book, Guide to 286 Green Colleges.

The Princeton Review chose the top green colleges based on their “Green Rating” scores, ranging from 60 to 99, developed in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council. To be represented in the guide, the school must have scored in the 80th or higher percentile in the “Green Rating.”

PSU is not the only university in Portland recognized for its sustainable practices; the University of Portland is also featured in the guide.

Overall, six Oregon-based universities and colleges made it into the top 286, including Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Linfield College, according to The Princeton Review’s website.

Mechanical and Materials Engineering Professor David Sailor said that the 10-year $25 million commitment to PSU by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation is a “key element that helps PSU stand out.”

The foundation offers resources that help the university do something substantial, Sailor said, in addition to providing huge opportunities for student- and faculty-led research projects.

“It doesn’t hurt that PSU is in Portland,” he said. “[The city] has an international and national reputation of sustainability.”

Currently, Sailor is working on research dealing with energy and the environment with a focus on the urban climate system. Last year, Sailor, along with members from the chemistry and biology faculty at PSU, was awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project researching the benefits of combining green roofs with solar arrays.

According to Sailor, PSU is somewhat unique in terms of how it is moving forward in sustainability because of its multidisciplinary and cross-disciplinary studies.

 “[Different departments working together] answers bigger questions…and breaks down traditional barriers,” he said.

As a result, PSU students are given the opportunity to work with several departments, including the architecture, chemistry, engineering and biology departments, Sailor said.

For faculty and students, cross-departmental collaboration provides a framework for studying complex problems, according to Sailor. Both can understand problems and apply their disciplinary expertise.

Sailor said it is a move in the right direction to have a full-time director overseeing PSU’s sustainability efforts. Robert Costanza, from University of Vermont, has been appointed as the director of PSU’s Center for Sustainable Processes and Practices.

“[Costanza] is a big name in sustainability,” Sailor said. “In some ways it shows that PSU can compete with the best…in sustainability when we attract talent like him.”

The Princeton Review published the green guide to help students looking for colleges to attend, according to its vice president Robert Franek. Its aim is to highlight colleges that have shown a commitment to sustainability.

“We created this guide to help [students] evaluate how institutions like Portland State University focus on environmental responsibility so that they can make informed decisions as they move through the college assessment and application process,” Franek said in the press release.

The Princeton Review’s complete green guide can be found at