For the past 19 years, The Princeton Review has been helping students shop for colleges by creating guidebooks that look at a dizzying array of factors, from academics to campus life. So why would it add yet another factor to the checklist of items for college applicants to consider?
Put simply, because students are going green and care about a college's commitment to sustainability.

"This is going to be a major issue for our generation," says Lily Twining, a junior at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. She co-chairs the Yale Student Environmental Coalition.

According to the USAToday article, The Princeton Review surveys students and parents every year, and in 2008, it added a "green question" to its College Hopes and Worries Survey, says publisher Rob Franek. The company found that 63% of the 10,300 high school-age college applicants and parents surveyed said they would find information about a college's dedication to the environment useful in their college selection process. In 2009, it was 66%.

The result this year is The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges, a 200-page guidebook that is being offered in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council and is available free online. It's supported by ads from colleges that appear in the book and funding from the Green Building Council.

It offers brief profiles and facts about 286 colleges that it says excel in three major areas:
• Providing students a healthy and sustainable quality of life.
• Preparing students for green jobs and responsible green citizenship.
• Using environmentally responsible school policies.

The colleges profiled all received "Green Ratings" in the 80s or 90s, on a scale from 60-99, based on Princeton Review surveys of administrators at 697 colleges.

Students today are "sustainability natives" who instinctively make greener choices, says Rachel Gutter, director for the Center for Green Schools at the Green Building Council. They realize the environmental problems they are inheriting and feel empowered to make a change, she says.

Many students want to learn about issues such as rapid urbanization, decreasing natural resources, alleviating poverty and creating renewable "smart" energy, says professor Charles Redman, director of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University in Tempe.

"I call it the sweet spot, where sustainability and business intersect. There are these students who are pragmatic but also want to make the world a better place, and they see this as a huge business opportunity. The world will have to make some changes," Redman says.

Universities are leading in environmental change with commitments to carbon neutrality, renewable resources and sustainable building. Higher-education institutions boast 3,850 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings, more than any other industry, says Gutter.

College campuses are "poised and positioned" to tackle sustainability because it requires integration of multiple stakeholders, she adds. "There's a kind of integration already on campuses because they're self-contained little cities."

And students are involved. At Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., students use vegetable oil to create fuel for campus and farm vehicles, says Sarah Brylinsky of Dickinson's Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.

"Students recognize that they can be an asset to the community and to their job if they're prepared with a good sustainability education," she says.

See the full report here.