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10 Environmentally Aware Business Schools

Green business is good business. According to a 2011 survey from McKinsey & Company, more companies are integrating sustainability principles that could improve processes, promote growth and add a degree of value to their names beyond reputation alone. This push for a more eco-focused business culture begins in school, with the education of next-gen leaders. A variety of institutions across the country boast earth-friendly building and design initiatives inspired by the leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit group of construction industry leaders. The following are 10 of the U.S. business schools with unique programs to support sustainability as an economic goal (not to mention the environmental benefits).

10 green business programs

  • College of William & Mary - Mason School of Business: In 2011, BusinessWeek ranked the Mason School of Business's undergraduate program first nationally in sustainability thanks to its green-focused initiatives and courses such as Green Supply Chain and Environmental Consulting. The school received recognition for its eco-friendly structures in 2010, when Miller Hall received a LEED Gold Certification. When compared to a standard building of similar size, Miller Hall reduces potable water use by more than 30 percent and energy use by about 23 percent. The structure also captures rainwater runoff for reuse in irrigation, and the project restored more than 70 percent of the site with native or adaptive plant species. New architecture blends with the historic environment of the Williamsburg, VA, campus, integrated with a landscaping design concept from Thomas Jefferson.
  • Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business: Georgetown University has already adopted sustainability projects, for example, using fuel cell buses, and McDonough School of Business's Rafik B. Hariri Building is further testament to the institution's commitment. This 179,000-square-foot building earned its LEED Silver certification for water and energy conservation as well as the effort to use low-emitting, recycled or locally made building materials. McDonough Dean George Daly noted in a press release that the institution is dedicated to teaching students about leadership and social responsibility, and the "Hariri Building shows that we practice what we teach."
  • Miami University of Ohio - Farmer School of Business: The Farmer School of Business says it is committed to keeping sustainability at the forefront of its educational focus, as shown by its LEED Silver Certified building -- the first structure to receive such an honor on the Oxford, Ohio, campus. The Farmer School of Business Building features low-emission fabrics and surface coatings, energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, and low-flow faucets and toilets. It also maximized green space around the building by incorporating minimal paving while preserving as many of the mature trees surrounding the site as possible.
  • Mills College - Lokey Graduate School of Business: In 2010, Mills College announced that its newest building had struck gold -- LEED Gold certification, that is. This unique space features energy-efficient, radiant-headed floors; an evaporative cooling system; and paints with low volatile organic compounds. The building's rainwater collection system and efficient plumbing fixtures preserve more than 100,000 gallons of water each year. Building designer Peter Bohlin -- recipient of the 2009 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects -- devised a structure that is artistically notable as well as eco-based (imagine a conference room suspended in mid-air). Mills College also notes that its LEED Platinum-rated Moore Natural Sciences Building was the first building in Oakland to earn this distinction.
  • Simmons College - School of Management: This school of business set the green bar high when it joined a few other Boston-area colleges to achieve LEED Gold certification. The five-story, 66,500-square-foot School of Management and Academic Building earned this nod by incorporating sustainable and recyclable building materials, and highly efficient HVAC and water systems. Overall, designers project that the building could conserve 34 percent more water and 38 percent more energy that standard buildings of a comparable size. Of course, the building is also wholly functional, featuring high-tech classrooms, an executive conference room and a landscaped roof plaza.
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business: In 2011, Entrepreneur Magazine and The Princeton Review gave kudos to the Stanford Graduate School of Business for its green business curriculum; in 2012, the school was also acknowledged for achievements in sustainability. The school's Knight Management Center has earned its LEED Platinum certification, which the highest rating bestowed by the USGBC. Thanks to the building's water- and energy-efficient features and preservation of open-space, its 60-point LEED rating surpasses the 52 points required for the Platinum designation. Solar technology fulfills more than a tenth of the complex's energy demand.
  • University of California Davis - Graduate School of Management: In 2009, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management opened Gallagher Hall, a 40,000-square-foot structure designed to "inspire creativity, collaboration and community." In 2011, the building earned LEED Platinum Certification for its eco-friendly design and features, and the university reports that it was the first business school in California to receive this honor. According to the school's website, this award reflects the UC Davis ethos of sustainability, which is also seen in the town's greenbelts and 90 miles of bike paths.
  • University of Michigan - Ross School of Business: In 2011, Entrepreneur Magazine and The Princeton Review ranked the Ross School of Business among the top 16 business schools in the nation for green MBAs. The U-M site notes the school's commitment to environmental sustainability and the future-focused Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. In addition to eco-savvy courses on topics like sustainable manufacturing and environmental economics, the school features a Silver-Rated LEED certified building with bragging rights such as 44 percent recycled construction materials and a green roof.
  • University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business: The Darla Moore School of Business embraces green leadership through sustainable enterprise and development, and that includes the Gold and Silver LEED-certified bling of existing campus structures. In 2011, the institution broke ground on a state-of-the-art facility to be completed in 2013. The goal is to build one of the most energy efficient buildings in the country, achieving not just a LEED Platinum certification, but a Net-Zero rating, which means a building generates as much energy as it consumes. The University of South Carolina -- also known for fuel cell research -- made The Princeton Review's 2013 Green Honor Roll.
  • University of Washington - Foster School of Business: In 2012, Seattle tied San Francisco and Portland for the top spot on research firm Corporate Knights' Greenest Cities in America list, so perhaps it is no surprise that UW's Foster School of Business embraces sustainability. In 2011, the institution's PACCAR Hall became LEED Gold certified. Among the structure's sustainable features: landscaping that provides solar shading, natural ventilation, thermal storage and an orientation that optimizes energy efficiency. And it's not just the building that's green: "U Dub" has more than 40 LEED accredited professionals on staff, including project managers who have passed the USGBC examination.

These business schools have embraced the future, not just by adding eco-centered courses to their catalogues or the right buzzwords to their mission statements, but by leveraging the cost savings and other benefits of green design. MBA programs around the country are doing their part; you can investigate other business schools and ask them about their strategies for sustainability.


"The business of sustainability: McKinsey Global Survey results," mckinsey.com, October 2011, Sheila Bonini. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/energy_resources_materials/the_business_of_sustainability_mckinsey_global_survey_results

"U-M's Ross School of Business Recognized as a Top School for sustainability Degree," sustainability.umich.edu, 29 March 2011. http://sustainability.umich.edu/news/u-m%E2%80%99s-ross-school-business-recognized-top-school-sustainability-degree

"Olin, Ross, Stanford Named Among Top 16 Schools for Green MBAs," reuters.com, 23 March 2011, Leslie Guevarra. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/23/idUS408194498820110323

"2013 Green Honor Roll," princetonreview.com, 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/23/idUS408194498820110323

"2012 Greenest Cities in America," corporateknights.com, 15 June 2012. http://corporateknights.com/report/2012-greenest-cities-america/top-30-cities