Redefining Our Impact on the Earth

For more than half a century, CU-Boulder has been a leader in world-class climate and energy research, environmental studies, the integration of environmental course work into a variety of fields, and aggressive plans for campus sustainability. From classrooms to research centers, event facilities, residence halls, and the community, we have a commitment to environmental stewardship. Click below to see examples...

Weaving Sustainability into a Broad Range of Curricula

CU-Boulder offers 14 degree programs, nine majors, and four certificate programs in or related to environmental studies. Environmental course work is offered by the College of Architecture and Planning, College of Arts and Sciences, Leeds School of Business, College of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Law School.

Above: Students in Sustainability and the Built Environment (CVEN 4700/5700) learn straw bale construction at the Field Lab for Applied Sustainable Technologies.

Pioneering Campus Conservation

Our leadership in sustainability dates back more than half a century and includes the nation's first student-led environmental center (1970), the first collegiate recycling program (1976), and the first student-funded wind energy purchase for campus buildings (2000).

Making the Grade in Sustainability

Often singled out for sustainability awards, CU-Boulder was named the 2009 top “green” university in the nation by Sierra magazine. We also received a grade of A- on the Sustainable Endowment Institute's 2009 College Sustainability Report Card.

Putting CU's Commitment in Writing

By embracing Colorado's “Greening of State Government” executive orders in 2007, CU-Boulder promised to meet very specific goals and timelines for energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction.

At the national level, last year the university filed its carbon neutrality plan with the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, again making public our plans to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Researching Climate Change

From the Arctic to Antarctica (above) and Costa Rica to Colorado, hundreds of researchers and students from CU-Boulder departments, centers, and institutes are chronicling environmental changes to better understand the impacts of both natural and human-caused climate warming.

Living the Sustainability Experience

Students in the Baker Residential Academic Program (RAP) enjoy a shared living experience with a conservation-minded community. The Baker program offers lectures, field trips, and research opportunities to first- and second-year students interested in natural or environmental sciences.

Creating a Zero-waste Football Season

The nation's first zero-waste program at a Bowl Championship Series football stadium, dubbed Ralphie's Green Stampede, began here in 2008.

Fostering Student Initiatives

Students are at the forefront of our environmental successes. For example, each year since 2005 the student-led and student-funded Sustainable CU Referendum has dedicated money to implement on-campus projects incorporating renewable energy, energy efficiency, and recycling and waste reduction. Particular attention is paid to initiatives created and led by students, thereby enhancing student opportunities.

Collaborating to Promote Energy Research

The Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, an interdisciplinary joint research effort with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), was formed in 2009 to advance solutions for producing energy economically from low-carbon sources, decreasing reliance on foreign oil, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and using energy more efficiently.

CU-Boulder is also a founding member of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory (with Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines, and NREL), formed to create renewable energy technologies and to generate educational opportunities and economic growth in Colorado.

Left: Dan Johnson demonstrates his solar energy tracker prototype for the CU-Boulder Energy Initiative (now the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute).

Studying and Living in a Green Environment

Four campus buildings have been awarded gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for their aggressive green building standards—Wolf Law, Koelbel Business, ATLAS, and Arnett Hall. We are currently working toward certification for nine more buildings. LEED certification is a national standard issued by the United States Green Building Council.

Offering Graduate Degrees in Environmental Studies

Interdisciplinary graduate degrees in environmental studies offer opportunities for education and research at the professional level to address the complex environmental issues facing Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, and the global community. Students may earn MS or PhD degrees from the College of Engineering and Applied Science or dual degrees with the Leeds School of Business (MS/MBA) or the Law School (MS or PhD/JD).

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