Published: June 1, 2010

environmental club

Integrative physiology major Zong Moua sorts through recyclable materials at CU-Boulder’s Intermediate Processing Facility last summer.

Forty years ago, before alternative energy was lucrative and being green was the cool thing to do, CU students founded the Environmental Center on Earth Day in 1970.

The center was the first of its kind in the nation and has made CU-Boulder a green leader among U.S. colleges and universities.

In 1991 CU became the first university in the nation to negotiate prepaid bus passes for all students, and its students were the first to vote for the purchase of wind energy credits in 2000.

Today, the Environmental Center helps students save on utility bills with the Student and Community Outreach on Renter Efficiency program. At students’ requests, teams of energy educators will visit their homes, offer energy-saving tips and even give away useful gadgets like energy-efficient light bulbs, window film insulation and water-saving shower heads.

“The students’ foresight and entrepreneurship has been contagious across our university community, and they have engrained an ethos of sustainability that has become second nature on our campus,” says Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano, lauding the center’s work over four decades.

CU also expanded its recycling program this year and switched to a dual-stream system — one bin for paper products and another for containers — rather than multiple bins.

The Greek community has jumped on board, too, with 11 of the nearly 30 houses implementing recycling programs.

In May outgoing seniors left campus greener than they found it with a gift that aims to help transform the University Memorial Center, the Recreational Center and the Wardenburg Health Center into zero waste facilities.