Sustainability Rankings and Awards

Sustainability Rankings and Awards

Cornell University is a top-ranking Ivy league institution in campus sustainability and has been recognized for leadership in several areas related to the creation of a sustainable campus and community. 

Cornell University 2021 sustainability rankings: Platinum rated AASHE STARS, #4 coolest school from Sierra Magazine, Green Honor Roll from Princeton Review, and 5th largest reduction from Carbon Commitment

Measuring progress using STARS reporting:

  • Top Ivy League institution in STARS* - the only campus with a Platinum rating

  • One of 11 campuses in the world and 9 in the USA to have achieved a Platinum Rating

  • #1 in New York State for Building, Campus Engagement, Research, and Planning (2021)

  • #2 in the nation for Campus Engagement and Sustainability Research  (2021)

  • The only Ivy League institution to make the top 20 Sierra Cool Schools list

  • #10 in the nation among Doctorate Granting Institutions  (2021) 

*Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Princeton report using STARS.  Stanford and MIT also report using STARS are are often considered "Ivy+ institutions" - Stanford and Cornell both hold Platinum Ratings.

Measuring progress to carbon neutrality:

  • Cornell was one of the first 50 campuses in the nation and the first Ivy League to commit to carbon neutrality.  We accelerated our goal from 2050 to 2035, and have met our interim reduction targets.

  • Top Ivy League Institution for overall carbon reduction 

  • 4th largest carbon reduction in the country for campuses over 14,000,000 sq. feet

  • Top 25 for carbon reduction by full-time equivalent student

  • Top 25 most aggressive carbon reduction goals among Doctorate granting institutions

STARS Platinum Logo

Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS)

Current Rating: STARS Platinum, Highest Available

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS®) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.  In 2020, Cornell was recognized with a Platinum rating.  Previously, Cornell held the longest-running Gold Rating for 8 years.


STARS allows users at member institutions to compare scores and data in every reporting area.  Create a free login with your Cornell NETID to use the Comparison Tool and explore how Cornell compares to other campuses on issues you care about.​​​

SMark of Distinctionecond Nature Carbon Commitment

Current Rating: Top Ivy for Overall Carbon Reduced, Marks of Distinction

Marks of Distinction is an initiative within the campuses of the Climate Leadership Network that recognizes Universities which set high-performance goals, demonstrate and report measurable progress towards those goals, and support network progress by sharing solutions and ideas.  The Second Nature GHG reporting tool houses Cornell's annual GHG inventory.  Institutions and the public can access this data to compare progress and achievements.

The Princeton's Review top 50 medalPrinceton Review Green Honor Roll

Current Rating: 7th Greenest College & Green Honor Roll

The Princeton Review annually publishes a comprehensive assessment of an institution’s campus quality of life, environmentally responsible policies, and its preparations towards a carbon-neutral future.


Sierra Club Cool SchoolsSierra Club Cool Schools

Current Rating: 4th Coolest School

The Cool Schools Ranking uses data from STARS along with its own custom-built formula to evaluate campus sustainability. It weighs progress in areas of energy, air, climate, and transportation more heavily than other sectors to align with Sierra Club’s priorities. 

Other Recognition

Leadership in Green Power Education Award (EPA)

EPA Green Power Partner

Cornell was selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Center for Resource Solutions in 2018 for its efforts to advance access, education, and public interest and engagement in renewable energy resources, especially in low-income communities. Read the news article

Cornell is a EPA Green Power Partnership Member. The EPA Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program encouraging organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use.