Welcome to campus and the Wittemyer Courtroom at the CU Law School, the first of what is currently 17 LEED-certified buildings on campus. I want to welcome Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam, Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones and Boulder Valley Schools Superintendent Bruce Messinger.

As organizations we continue to build the strength of our relationships by collaborating in many ways to better serve both our own constituencies and the community. The Sustainability Alliance is an excellent example of that collaboration, and I’m pleased to be here with my colleagues as we share this important information with the community.

Community Sustainability Alliance Panel Discussion

Let me begin my saying I'm very proud that CU-Boulder is a national leader in sustainability. Here at CU we have many firsts to be proud of:

  • First university to institute recycling (1976),
  • First to make a student-led renewable energy purchase (2000),
  • First campus to attain the STARS Gold overall campus sustainability award (2010),
  • And we boast the nation’s oldest, largest and, some say, most accomplished Environmental Center, founded in 1970 on Earth Day.

You can see we have been dedicated to environmental sustainability for 45 years.

We’ve made incredible progress on our goals and in our commitment to the Sustainability Alliance, so I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to update the community on some of our most significant accomplishments.

Five significant accomplishments

 1. We are committed to our goal of 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 and have made progress but there remain challenges. We have stabilized carbon emissions even while increasing the size of the campus significantly. Campus building gross square footage increased by 28% from 2006 to 2014, but energy use per gross square foot (normalized for heating demand) has decreased 22% during the same timeframe.

Investments in our campus energy utility infrastructure will improve our system efficiency by greater than 10% and allow use of the newly renovated campus co-generation plant — a unique component of our energy strategy to reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions alike.

We are undergoing a comprehensive space utilization study to maximize the efficient use of existing buildings. The most sustainable building is the one that does not have to be built. This initiative includes a capital renewal program and Board of Regents approval to proceed with $50-million in energy and water conservation projects that will vastly improve the energy efficiency in our aging building stock.

2. CU-B students, faculty and staff have worked with our community partners on a range of sustainability issues. Examples include:

  • Resilience planning projects with key Environmental Design faculty, and class project partnerships 
  • Collaborating to increase community composting
  • Partnering with all Alliance members in showcasing our Sustainable Gamedays
  • Increasing the provision of locally grown foods to CU Dining Services to over 27% of total supply—and rising. (2010 baseline was 18.6 percent)

3. Increasing our offerings of environmentally focused programs, classes and curricula.

  • CU-Boulder is opening up the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Complex this year and rolling out the new School of Environment & Sustainability.
  • We now offer over 643 sustainability-related courses taught in 45 departments (about 24 percent of all courses). This is up from 13 percent in 2010.

4. Campus-community transportation improvements encourage reduced vehicle traffic.

  • We partnered with the City and County to construct critical transportation improvements that enable increased use of transit, biking and walking, including significant safety enhancements.
  • Notable is the $7.4-million Broadway-Euclid underpass facility that improved transit service, added bike lanes and storage, and greatly improved pedestrian safety at one of the busiest multi-modal transit intersections in the Denver-metro area.

5. Striving to decrease energy usage

  • To date, CU-Boulder has a total of 17 LEED-certified buildings comprising nearly two million gross square feet.
    • LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies that reduce both costs and impact on the environment.
    • A typical LEED certified building on campus is 25-40% more efficient than a traditionally constructed building.
  • Five of these 17 buildings are certified Platinum (the highest certification) and eleven are certified Gold. On the horizon are another nine buildings with an estimated 1.2 million gross square feet that are either waiting on final certification or have been recently registered with the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Kittredge West/Central won “Best new institutional green building” in 2014 from the Colorado Green Building Guild.
  • CU-Boulder will soon roll out its first “net-zero electricity” building  — the indoor football practice facility — pushing installed solar capacity to over 2,000 kilowatts — generating enough electricity to power nearly 300 homes per year (kW).  With this installation, CU-Boulder's total contribution to the state’s renewable energy standard increases by 60%.

These are a few of the accomplishments we’ve worked hard on, and we look forward to the continued collaboration with the Alliance, as we learn from our partners, share our experience, and partner on future efforts.