The Green Sixteen: A New Kind of March Madness

March 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’s that time of year again. Spring is fast approaching, baseball season is starting, and of course, March Madness has begun! The yearly NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship started last Thursday (3/15), and this Thursday (3/22) starts the third round of play, affectionately known as the Sweet Sixteen. The teams are competing for one of the most prestigious and well-know titles in all of sports, and fans around the country are following every game on national TV, cheering for their favorites and filling out brackets with their predictions of who will win. Even President Obama is in the sprit – each year of his presidency he has revealed his picks in TV segments called “Barack-etology.” However, there’s a whole other group of sixteen colleges and universities competing for a lesser known, but equally, if not more important title: The National College Sustainability Championship, AKA the other March Madness.

The contest works similar to the NCAA tournament, and occurs at the same time in parallel structure. Starting with the Sustainable Sixteen, chosen by Enviance and Environmental Leader, schools will be narrowed down to the Environmental Eight, the Final Four, and eventually, the Winner. How are the winning schools chosen? The contest rates the schools’ environmental programs, focusing on freshman retention rate, student to faculty ratio, graduation rates, hire rates post-graduation, and diversity of courses offered. These criteria are rated on a scale of 1-5 to narrow the Sustainable Sixteen down to the Environmental Eight. From there, students and schools will have the opportunity to submit videos and essays promoting their school, which will be used to determine the Final Four and the ultimate Winner. The winning school will receive $5,000 for their department, and the department chair will win an all-expenses paid trip to the Enviance User Conference in San Diego in mid-April.

So who is judging this contest? A panel of leading environmental experts, including:

Velislava Ivanova, CH2M HILL
Nick Johnson, Trinity Consultants
Don Cuffel, Valero/California
Peter Fox Penner, The Brattle Group
Larry Goldenhersh, Enviance

If these names aren’t so familiar to you, don’t worry. There are some much more familiar names among the Sustainable Sixteen – many of which are members of this year’s Sweet Sixteen as well. Those schools are: Baylor University, Colby College, Colorado State University, Cornell University, Duke University, Humboldt State University, Montana University, THE Ohio State University, Purdue University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Temple University, University of California – Davis, University of Florida, University of Michigan – Dearborn, UNC-Asheville, and University of Texas – Arlington. It’s interesting to note that many of these schools come from the more environmentally aware states – California, New York, and Colorado in particular.

The Environmental Eight will be announced next Monday, the 26th of March, the Final Four on the 30th, with the ultimate Winner being announced on April 2nd, the same day as the NCAA Tournament Finals. Is your school in the running? Root them on!

Oh, and one more thing. GO CUSE!

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