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The Sustainable 16, a group of sixteen colleges and universities that demonstrate excellence in environmental academics, has been named in the first-ever Enviance, Inc. and Environmental Leader March Madness tournament for Environmental Studies.

The tournament was designed to evaluate colleges and universities on their academic and sustainability achievements related to the environment, in a format similar to the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament.

The tournament sponsors sent surveys to more than three dozen of the country’s top environmental universities and also accepted open submissions from other qualified schools. Each participating school responded on topics related to curriculum, graduation rate, facilities and student retention. The responses were then evaluated by a panel of expert judges.

The judges for this year’s tournament include: Lawrence Goldenhersh, CEO and president of Enviance; Peter Fox, principal & chairman of The Brattle Group; Velislava Ivanova, global sustainability practice director for CH2M Hill; Nick Johnson, managing consultant at Trinity Consultants; and Don Cuffel, manager of environmental engineering at Valero/California.

According to Goldenhersh, the sweet 16 universities are preparing the next generation of professionals to lead sustainability, social responsibility and environmental compliance programs for some of the world’s largest companies.

In order to advance to the next round of the competition, Sustainable 16 faculty and students are being asked to support their entries with short essays, social media or video submissions on why they should be named National Champion. The submissions will be evaluated between today and March 19, 2012. The “Environmental Eight” will be announced Monday, March 26.

The tournament will award $5,000 to the environmental and sustainability department of one National Champion, and send the department chair or member of the faculty on an all-expenses-paid trip to San Diego to attend the Enviance User Conference, April 16-20. While there, the winner will lead a panel titled, “What Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders Need to Know.”

One student from each of the Final Four universities will be selected by our judges to be profiled in Environmental Leader. There are also multiple opportunities to be featured in the publication throughout the contest.

For more information on the March Madness Tournament for environmental studies, please email Enviance@schwartzmsl.com, or visit http://www.enviance.com/march-madness. View real-time updates on Twitter by following @enviance or @ELDaily.