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North country schools listed among the nation’s greenest universities

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POTSDAM — It is no coincidence that both Potsdam colleges were selected among the greenest universities in the United States.

Clarkson University and SUNY Potsdam were listed in the Princeton Review’s Green Guide, a list of the nation’s 322 most environmentally responsible colleges.

The Princeton Review, an admissions consulting company, rated American universities on their commitment to environmentally friendly policies and curricula based on campus tours, interviews and student surveys. The company justified its publication by noting the growing number of applicants who consider a university’s commitment to sustainability when making their choice.

“We recognize there is a rising interest among students in attending colleges that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices,” the publication wrote.

“Among the more than 12,000 college applicants The Princeton Review surveyed for its 2011 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 65 percent of respondents said they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment.”

SUNY Potsdam was recognized for its recent efforts in sustainability, including replacing every incandescent light bulb on campus with a more efficient fluorescent one, offering reusable cups and containers at its dining halls and initiating a sustainability-themed floor in a residence hall.

“This is a great affirmation that our hard work over the past year is paying off, as we take a look at the college operations to see where we can improve our efforts and reduce our impact on the planet,” said R.J. Mattimore, SUNY Potsdam sustainability coordinator.

“This recognition only pushes us further in our commitment to sustainability.”

Mr. Mattimore recently completed his first year as the university’s sustainability and operations coordinator. One of his biggest coups was an agreement with Clarkson University to bring Zipcar, an on-demand car-sharing service, to Potsdam.

Clarkson, on the other hand, received high marks for its no-styrofoam policy, expansion of its recycling program to handle used electronics and its commitment to designing and constructing energy-efficient buildings on campus while minimizing environmental impact.

“In the last two years we’ve done a lot,” said Susan E. Powers, associate director of sustainability at Clarkson. “Two years ago President (Anthony G.) Collins said we will include sustainability in everything we do on campus; part of my job is making sure we do that, and we are making strides in that direction.”

Ms. Powers said Clarkson is looking at ways to make sure Mr. Collins’s message is followed up on.

“Right now we are working on a strategic plan for sustainability, which will include aspects of operations but also education programs and engaging all employees and students in sustainability,” she said.

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