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TRU is third Coolest School in North America

Sierra Club’s annual Coolest School rankings, which track environmental track records, have Thompson Rivers University in third place, right behind Arizona State University and University of California-Irvine.
TRU trees
TRU students and staff plant a Fraser fir.

Thompson Rivers University is the only Canadian post-secondary institution included in the top 10 of the Sierra Club’s annual Coolest School rankings. 

TRU placed third in the sustainability rankings of North American colleges and universities, which is the same position it sat in last year.

In 2019, TRU was at the top of the list as the No. 1 Coolest School.

 This is the 15th year the Sierra Club has released its rankings, which are based on the institutions’ environmental track records. This year, Sierra received submissions from a record-breaking 328 schools across the United States and Canada.

Of the 20 colleges and universities on this year’s list, there were only three from Canada, with the rest based in the U.S. Besides TRU, the other Canadian universities are both in Quebec — Université de Sherbrooke (11th) in Sherbrooke and Université Laval (13th) in Quebec City. 

Overall, Arizona State University came in first, while the University of California campus in Irvine came second, followed by Thompson Rivers University. 

Using a customized scoring system, independent researchers ranked colleges and universities based on academic criteria, such as environmentally-focused curricula, student engagement with environmental activism, renewable energy and waste management operations and schools’ planning and administrative standards. 

“This summer, we have experienced first-hand the effects of climate change and we deeply understand the need to take action. TRU continues to strive to reduce our environmental impact while being a place where solutions can be found,” TRU president Brett Fairbairn said.

James Gordon, TRU’s manager of sustainability programs, said that, in addition to major projects initiated in recent years, the school has launched programs for tree-planting and reusable cutlery. “These might seem like small measures, but they tell our community that everyone can take steps to make a difference,” Gordon said.

The full ranking of 328 colleges and universities is online here.

Planting for the future

The Sierra Club honour comes as TRU launches its Campus Tree Program while marking the 10th National Tree Day on Wednesday, Sept. 22, by planting 10 celebration maple trees.

The Campus Tree Program is a one-year program supported by the sustainability office, horticulture department and grounds maintenance department. It requires volunteers from the TRU community to plant and care for trees throughout campus.