The University of Colorado Student Government has reduced the net emissions of greenhouse gases, or GHGs, from its student-run facilities to zero after committing in 2007 to reach carbon neutrality.
CUSG operates three large CU-Boulder facilities including the University Memorial Center, Student Recreation Center and Wardenburg Health Center.
“We are very proud of this accomplishment,” said CUSG Vice President Carly Robinson. “It’s a reflection of our sustainability-minded campus community and the impressive resources we have on hand to be more environmentally friendly, and even save money, by implementing green strategies.”
CU-Boulder students will gather for a “Getting to Carbon Neutrality” forum on Friday, Feb. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Aspen Room of the University Memorial Center. They will discuss the campus’s carbon neutrality achievements and remaining challenges with input from a panel of CU staff. The event is open to CU students but requires pre-registration at http://ecenter.colorado.edu/carbonneutrality.
More than 9,000 metric tons of GHG emissions attributed to operating the student-run buildings have been eliminated through renewable energy generation, energy conservation measures and carbon-offset strategies implemented by CUSG. Carbon neutrality was reached even as square footage and usage of the facilities increased in recent years.
CUSG partnered with Facilities Management to install additional solar panels on CU facilities that contribute roughly 72,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per month to the electricity grid -- enough to power about 80 houses. This renewable energy generation replaces a portion of the energy generated by traditional systems that emit GHGs.
CUSG buildings also have been renovated with better insulation and sealing technologies, more efficient lighting and windows. These upgrades reduced the buildings’ total energy consumption by nearly 15 percent over the last five years.
CUSG also has worked with Colorado communities on carbon reduction projects as a way to offset GHG emissions from CUSG buildings. The projects provide educational, economic development and social equity benefits for the state.
One of the projects includes solar thermal system installations, used to heat water, for low-income housing in Loveland, Colo.
Two years ago, the CUSG helped support the installation of a system that converts methane gas from the Larimer County Landfill in Fort Collins, Colo., into energy. Methane gas is a potent GHG emission.
Recently, CUSG contracted with Native Energy -- a carbon offsets program provider -- to support a novel kiln system used by Commercial Brick Corp., an Oklahoma brick manufacturer. The kiln system is powered by methane gas captured from a nearby landfill. It prevents methane emissions and replaces fossil fuel use. The company, which will participate in the Feb. 17 forum, provides 200 jobs and produces 144 million bricks per year sold in 15 states.
The CU Environmental Center coordinated the carbon neutrality effort. The center administers grants and loan programs within CUSG facilities that have helped fund energy conservation projects, delivering over $1.6 million in energy cost savings for CUSG over the last five years while driving down GHG emissions.