The Univeristy of Colorado is home to many sustainably designed buildings, landscapes, and practices. From LEED buildings and solar power to zero-waste infrastructure and alternative transportation, there is a lot going on around campus.
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Built in 1910, this facility was recently renovated in response to increasing campus energy needs. Electricity is generated from natural gas, which produces fewer emissions than the local utility. Like the East District Energy Plant, cogenerated steam helps to heat and cool campus buildings.
Like the West District Energy Plant, this facility uses cogeneration to produce electricity and steam. This steam helps to heat and cool campus buildings, and is responsible for services like air conditioning in the Kittredge residence halls.
Research laboratories are some of the biggest resource consumers on campus, so the Green Labs Program was created to minimize the use of water, energy, raw materials and hazardous chemicals at CU-Boulder. CU Green Labs promotes conservation and efficiency with direct outreach and education, replacement of outdated equipment, and development of methods that reduce the flow of materials into the waste stream.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at CU-Boulder stores over 120 terabytes of earth and climate data in the servers of the Green Data Center (GDC). Traditionally, such large computers require huge amounts of energy; the system of the GDC reduces energy demands by 90%, making it one of the most energy efficient data centers in the country.
In order to achieve a LEED Platinum certification, several innovative strategies were incorporated into the building's design, such as rooftop solar water heating panels and waste heat recovery from the ice rink.
The live-feed metering system at Williams Village North Hall is the first of its kind at CU-Boulder. It provides minute-to-minute updates about the energy use of each floor and wing in the building.
The Bike Program is your one-stop shop for all things related to biking at CU. Operated by Parking & Transportation Services and the Environmental Center, the CU Bike Stations offer mechanic assistance, Buff Bike 2-day free rentals (free to faculty, staff and students!), and semester rentals.
Campus bicycles stations offer many services that foster a strong cycling community at CU-Boulder. Services include bicycle registration, free rentals, and complimentary maintenance and repairs. Although the stations are closed during the winter, services are still available through the Mobile Mechanics who meet students wherever they need assistance.
The city of Boulder has over 300 miles of dedicated bicycle paths, many of which intersect with the university, allowing students and faculty to reach anywhere on campus.
A local nonprofit, eGo CarShare allows members of the community to rent vehicles for everyday errands, without the costs associated with vehicle maintenance. Numerous studies demonstrate that one carshare vehicle replaces up to 13 personal vehicles, which reduces city congestion and environmental impacts.
With the RTD College Pass card, students have access to the entire Boulder-Denver area. Meanwhile, the campus-specific Buff Bus allows quick transportation to different locations around campus, and the seasonal Ski Bus offers weekend routes into the mountains.
A Boulder nonprofit, B-cycle allows members of the community to rent bicycles for everyday errands, without the need to maintain or own a bicycle. By purchasing a pass, anyone can rent a bicycle at one of the many B-cycle stations and return it to any other station, making environmentally-friendly transportation easy and affordable.
Covered and secured bicycle parking is available free of charge next to the University Memorial Center for anyone with a campus-registered bicycle.
Over a quarter of the food served in CU-Boulder's dining centers is local and/or third party verified, such as organic and fair trade. All dining centers offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options at every meal, and all dining centers compost pre- and post-consumer food waste. Outreach and education is an ever growing part of the dining experience; events include Scrape Your Plate Day, which highlights food waste, and Sustainable Foods Week, which highlights local food sourcing.
The Farrand Grab and Go is designed to accommodate students on a tight schedule, while still stressing sustainable food practices. Like all campus dining centers, Farrand always offers multiple vegetarian and vegan options, and composts pre- and post-consumer food waste. However, Farrand is unique in that a majority of options offered are organic. Many choices are local and seasonal as well: common finds include Niman Ranch humanely-raised bacon and bread from local Breadworks Bakery.
This Plains Cottonwood tree was planted by Mary Sewall in 1876 in order to beautify the university's barren landscape. Since then, many other trees have been planted across campus, leading CU-Boulder to be certified as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Since 2013, CU-Boulder has successfully avoided the use of chemical herbicides and traditional turf management techniques. Instead, the university uses a health-based system which includes Integrated Pest Management, hand removal of weeds, and organic fertilizers. CU-Boulder is also the first major institution to implement a large-scale application of Compost Tea, which is distributed by the irrigation system. This has reduced fertilizer use and increased soil health and biodiversity.
Xeriscaping is dry landscaping, which emphasizes water conservation. By carefully controlling the soil slope and composition, irrigation practices, and plant selection, lush and diverse plant communities can be established without requiring large amounts of water needed for conventional landscapes and turf.
In order to support ecosystem health, CU-Boulder dedicates 10,000 square feet of campus grounds to grow pollinator-friendly plants. By planting perennials that flower from early spring to late fall, and by restricting the use of insecticides and neonicotinoids, the landscapes will serve as a valuable resource for local bees, butterflies, and other fauna.
The C4C herb garden was created in a collaboration between Dining Services and students who envisioned, designed, and helped build the garden. As a foray into urban agriculture, the courtyard garden creates a peaceful dining environment, in addition to growing wholesome ingredients for the kitchen, such as basil, cilantro, tomatoes, and peppers.
An all organic, chemical free, non-GMO garden where residents of Smiley Court Apartments can grow their own food. Organic on-site composting is also available to residents that use the garden.
An all organic, chemical free, non-GMO garden where residents of Newton Court Apartments can grow their own food. Organic on-site composting is also available to residents that use the garden.
An all organic, chemical free, non-GMO garden where residents of Athens Court Apartments can grow their own food. Organic on-site composting is also available to residents that use the garden.
With the nation's first NCAA Division I zero waste stadium, CU-Boulder proves that sustainability is feasible at the highest level. By working with the stadium's vendors, the university has ensured that all food and beverage materials are recyclable, compostable or reusable. Employees and volunteers monitor the zero waste stations within the stadium, which exclude trash containers in favor of recycling and composting bins. This led CU-Boulder to become the first winner of the EPA Game Day Challenge, with a record 90% diversion rate.
Although capable of seating 11,000 people, the center is dedicated to being zero waste. By working with the center's vendors, the university has ensured that all food and beverage materials are recyclable, compostable, or reusable. Employees and volunteers monitor the zero waste stations within the center, which exclude trash containers in favor of recycling and composting bins.
Opened in 2015, the recycling center collects and sorts every item recycled on campus, in order to increase the quality of the recycled goods that then pass on to the Boulder County Recycling Center. At CU-Boulder, recycling diverts nearly 45% of campus waste from reaching the landfill, saves over a quarter million dollar annually, and creates jobs while helping the environment. But CU-Boulder is committed to achieving even more: by 2020 the university has pledged to reach an ambitious campus-wide diversion rate of 90%.
Like all dining centers on campus, the C4C aims to compost all pre- and post-consumer food waste. Outreach and education is a significant to achieving this goal; through videos, posters, and events, students can learn about the significance of reducing food waste. Other zero waste initiatives include converting used cooking oil into biodiesel and recycling plastic packaging, among many others.
As the home of Student Government, the Environmental Center, student groups and faculty offices, the UMC is a major hub of campus. Compost and recycling services are available throughout the building for public use, and all vendors in the dining center compost pre- and post-consumer food waste.
CU-Boulder is committed to reducing waste campus-wide. In eight of the university’s residence halls, students have the opportunity to compost from within their homes ─ a novel and uncommon practice for colleges across the country.
95% of the water used for campus irrigation originates from local waterways such as the Anderson Ditch, which feeds into Varsity Lake. This avoids the use of potable city water for grounds maintenance, and has helped reduce campus water use per square foot by over 63% since 2002.
Once operational, this system will treat the greywater from the west wing and recirculate it to all the toilets in the building. The system is estimated to save over one million gallons of water per year.
With hundreds of researchers investigating issues from energy and climate to oceans and ecosystems, CIRES aims to discover new knowledge about Earth and its systems, and communicating these findings with the global scientific community.
Completed in 2015, SEEC is the flagship for academic sustainability at CU-Boulder. Within this LEED certified building are the brightest students, faculty educators, government researchers and industry analysts. With its many partnerships, (such as RASEI, NREL and USGS) SEEC aims to be the hub for next generation discovery.