Published: April 8, 2023

Lauren Uram and Mason LiddellLast week, CU Boulder's Environmental Center hosted the 4th annual President's Sustainable Solutions Challenge event where three proposals were presented on how to make the campus more sustainable. The CU President's Office funded the prize money, totaling $2,500. Students developed their innovative proposals as individuals or as teams.  

Lauren Uram and Mason Liddell presented their Plant-Based Campus Initiative, advocating for CU to become the first U.S. university to offer 100% plant-based food. Campuses in the UK have already made similar commitments, so this initiative isn’t unheard of. This would make meals 30-40% cheaper than an omnivorous diet, and the initiative would be implemented gradually over several semesters with education.

“I think it’s important to talk honestly about what our future is going to look like,” Uram explained. 

Brandon BrownBrandon Brown's Winds of Change proposal focused on the role of Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in sustainable portfolios. By tailoring a PPA with Xcel, CU campus could run off 50% renewable energy by 2025 and 80% by 2030, making CU a leader in campus clean energy initiatives. Renewable energy sources comprise less than one percent of the total energy sources used to power campus, according to the 2021 STARS report. Xcel is already in the process of building a new Power Pathway after the Colorado Clean Energy Plan was put into place. This will ensure the state is 80% renewable by the end of the decade. While there may be cheaper alternatives, this plan would fulfill CU’s obligation to its local community and the state, making them a leader in campus clean energy initiatives.

The Xero Heros, consisting of Q Redmond, Jennalee Battson and Quinn Harper, presented their project on Waterwise Landscaping on Campus. Keeping the drought in the west in mind, they proposed replacing grass turf on East Campus with native vegetation to reduce mowing emissions and maintenance costs and decrease the goose population on that side of the campus.

Xero Heroes“We’re thinking big but starting small,” Harper explained.  

The judges awarded first place and $1,500 to Brown, second place and $500 to Uram and Liddell's Plant-Based Campus Initiative, and the Audience Choice award of $500 went to the Xero Heros. The presenters were also invited to share their initiatives at the Climate Action Expo April 20 from 12-3 p.m. in the UMC, with more opportunities to earn prize money.