California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts

San Francisco, CA


California College of the Arts Earns Placement in Princeton Review's Guide to Greenest Colleges in the United States

By Clay Walsh
May 3, '11 12:35 PM EST

California College of the Arts is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review, an education service that helps students select and apply to colleges. CCA's inclusion in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges: 2011 Edition reinforces the college's reputation as an exemplary institution of higher education committed to sustainability.


The news, which USA Today reported Wednesday, April 20, arrives just in time for today's Earth Day celebration—and brings to a close CCA's Earth Week festivities with a remarkable bang!


The Guide to 311 Green Colleges, the first and only free comprehensive college guidebook to focus solely on high-ranking U.S. colleges and universities, showcases outstanding commitments to environmental sustainability in and out of the classroom (e.g., environmentally related practices, policies, and academic offerings). The 220-page guide contains profiles of 308 institutions of higher education in the United States and three in Canada, all of which demonstrate a significant commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.

CCA is one of only two art colleges listed in the guide (Pratt Institute being the other). Our leadership in sustainability is evident. It stems from a value system that adapts to new ways of thinking and designing and learning, an irrefutable benchmark of success. We trust if we continue to lead well, others will follow.

CCA President Commits College to Environmental Responsibility

President Stephen Beal commented, "We are pleased to be named as one of the top-ranking green colleges in the nation. At CCA we value sustainability and believe that as a school of the arts we have a unique ability and an ethical responsibility to shape a culture that is more environmentally responsible."

The Guide to Green Colleges, now in its fourth edition, details “the environment-friendly attributes of colleges and universities whose facilities, operations, administration, and curriculum demonstrate an exceptional commitment to sustainability," according to Princeton Review senior vice president and publisher Robert Franek.

How Green Colleges Are Determined

In collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), college profiles are selected using a "green rating" scoring system. The following three criteria are used:

  • whether the college’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable
  • how well the college is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges
  • the college’s overall commitment to environmental issues

According to The Princeton Review’s website 2011 green-rating scores are determined (on a scale of 60–99) based on data from a 50-question survey conducted among hundreds of school administrators about their school's environmental and sustainability-related commitments and initiatives). Of the 703 schools tallied in 2010, those in the 80th or higher percentile comprise the 311 educational institutions featured in the guide. CCA's score is 85.


About the "Guide to 310 Green Colleges"

The Guide to 310 Green Colleges was created out of need The Princeton Review documented based on a survey of 16,000 applicants and parents, of whom 66 percent indicated an interest in learning to what extent a college is committed to the environment. Of the same cohort, 24 percent of respondents revealed such information would very much affect the decision to apply or attend the college.

CCA's Mindful Approach to Sustainability

At CCA sustainability isn't just one practice or a single motto; the college steeps itself in not only tangible measures but also deeply in the philosophy of sustainable design. To better understand how CCA integrates a true embodiment of sustainability, one need only turn to Industrial Design professor Jay Baldwin, widely considered the "godfather of sustainable and ecological design." According to Baldwin, “Nature is not ’multidisciplinary.’ Nature is the whole caboodle. Nature is omnidisciplinary. We need to do things as nature does, in the way that is most economical in terms of resources and energy.”

CCA Green Facts

CCA also excels when it comes to more traditional green measurements:

  •     50 percent of food expenditures are on local or organic produce
  •     70 percent of appliances on campus are Energy Star–qualified products
  •     70 percent of overall waste-diversion rate

President's Sustainability Steering Group Raises the Bar

Since its first audit by The Princeton Review in 2009, CCA has implemented the President’s Sustainability Steering Group (PSSG), composed of students, faculty, staff, and trustees who are charged with aligning and communicating CCA's values about sustainability. Almost all of the initiatives the PSSG has coordinated have emerged out of the curriculum or individual student or faculty work.

“Rather than a top-down mandate, the President's Sustainability Steering Group was created to capitalize on and amplify the sustainability innovation already occurring in the classrooms and studios across our curriculum,” explains Director of Research and Planning David Meckel. ”Steve [Beal] also recognized that we have been out in front of these issues in facility planning and operations—having opened a very large solar-heated campus that is naturally ventilated and lit before LEED was even established.”


Fact: CCA is home to the largest solar-heated facility in Northern California, the Montgomery Building on the San Francisco campus, which was designated as one of the country's top-10 green buildings by AIA COTE (American Institute of Architects, Committee on the Environment).


The PSSG worked closely with President Beal to identify ways that would showcase the college’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. The effort resulted in President Beal signing several major sustainability accords in 2010:

  • American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) — This agreement puts the college on a path to climate neutrality.
  • Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education — Institutional membership provides access to educational and research resources geared to advancing sustainability in all sectors of higher education.
  • The Talloires Declaration — A 10-point action plan for colleges and universities committed to promoting education for sustainability and environmental literacy.


The PSSG also devised a statement of values that represents the college's core principles in relation to sustainability. These basic tenants are drawn upon frequently to ensure all future growth—curricular, technological, architectural—takes into consideration specified best-practice guidelines.

Sustainability at CCA: An Initiative that Lasts

Today one of CCA’s most distinguishable characteristics is its seemingly ubiquitous commitment to sustainability. Our collective eco-consciousness is evidenced by almost every facet of the college’s operations. Our stalwart efforts to integrate ecological consideration, sustainable design practices, waste-management solutions, and proactive environmental planning all contribute to an innovative mindset that represents our community as a whole.