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Greening the Black and Gold
by Heather Hansman, SJMC graduate student/Environmental Center communications coordinator

CU-Boulder has long been the nation’s leader in campus sustainability. Students, staff and faculty are continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of energy conservation, emissions reduction, enhanced literacy and research, and wise use of resources. To stay ahead of the curve, CU continues to develop new and innovative approaches to sustainability.

For instance, after Chancellor Peterson signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007, the Carbon Neutrality Working Group of the Chancellor’s Committee for Energy and Environmental Sustainability has been developing a climate action plan that will outline how CU can get to carbon neutrality.

The plan recently received a positive evaluation of the methodology for projecting and mitigating CU’s carbon emissions from the National Renewable Energy Lab. We are now integrating the carbon plan with the financial plan into a cohesive approach.

But the carbon neutrality plan is not just about counting carbon. It will integrate with Flagship 2030, the campus master plan, improved faculty resources, and a more robust climate/sustainability research agenda in order to help cement and leverage CU’s place as the most sustainable campus. The plan is slated to be released later this spring, 2009.

Last fall, the CU-Boulder Buffaloes football program and stadium launched Ralphie’s Green Stampede, the first zero waste and carbon reduction program ever launched at an NCAA Bowl Championship Series stadium. The first season shattered all previous recycling records, drastically cut our sporting events environmental footprint, and set the stage for continuous improvement towards a completely sustainable process.

CU and the entire Boulder community can be proud of the collaborative efforts being made on the field and in the stadium by the entire campus community in pulling this inaugural nationally recognized effort together. Approximately 80 percent of all the waste generated at the football games was diverted from landfills and either recycled or composted.

CU departments also play a vital part in sustainability. Departments and offices can sign up for the Green Office Program and attain CU Green Office certification. This voluntary effort entails appointing an office Eco Leader and getting an office checkup focusing on recycling and resource conservation. The efforts are minimal and the impacts can be huge.

On an individual level, members of the campus are also working to tackle global warming with the CU Buffs Live Green Pledge. Through the end of April, for every CU faculty, staff or student who signs the CU Buffs Live Green Pledge and commits to three ways they can reduce their carbon footprint, CU will match each pledge with $5 toward campus sustainability projects. These projects will reduce CU’s carbon footprint and can range from installing automatic light controls to investing in more renewable energy. This joint effort towards sustainability, from both the school and the community, becomes more and more effective as more people sign the pledge. Pledge to Live Green today!

These are just a few of the sustainability initiatives that CU is actively engaged in. For more information about these and other undertakings, visit the Environmental Center website.

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