Luther College named one of top Cool Schools

September 5, 2017

Luther College was named one of the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools. For 2017, Luther holds the highest ranking for Iowa Private Colleges and is one of only a few ELCA schools recognized on the list.

The national assessment pulls data from STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System), a program run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Information submitted to AASHE was used and scored across 61 questions from the STARS assessment, in addition to a supplemental question about fossil fuel investments. The Sierra Club used STARS reports to compile the list.

Luther’s efforts were reported by the college’s Center for Sustainable Communities, which coordinates sustainability initiatives at Luther.

Luther ranked 116th on the Cool Schools list with 536.4 points out of a possible 1,000. Wartburg, a fellow Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference school, came in at 141st with 513.58 points. Luther and Wartburg were the only Iowa private colleges recognized. Pacific Lutheran University was the only other ECLA school honored, ranking 224th.

Topping the Cool Schools rankings for the second year in-a-row was The College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, scoring 779.58 points.

Maren Beard, Center for Sustainable Communities assistant director, said, “This ranking is an affirmation of the great work being done here at Luther and by peer institutions across the country as we work to advance sustainability in higher education.”

More than 200 colleges and universities participated in the 2017 survey, an increase over the past several years. This is the 11th year the Sierra Club has released a Cool Schools list.

Luther received a perfect score of 92 in the co-curricular category and scored a 44.98 out of 50 in the planning category. The co-curricular category includes the work of Luther’s sustainability student educators, outreach campaigns and initiatives, student orientation and marketing/communication efforts. Luther also scored well in academics, with a high percentage of faculty conducting research that relates to sustainability and with classes that correlate to sustainability in a variety of disciplines.

The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental group. It was funded in 1892 and currently has three million members and supporters.

Earlier this summer, Luther earned a STARS silver rating of 62.47, showing improvement from the 47.51 rating the college garnered in 2014.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: