The Environmental Center provides the following major services to the campus:

The Center is also involved in off campus service efforts, funded by off campus sources

  • Performs sponsored research for various agencies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Office of Energy Management and Conservation, and Boulder County
  • Provides transportation research and outreach programs
  • "Green Teams" provide peer education on proper recycling, waste reduction and energy conservation techniques to students living off campus
  • Community Energy Connections trains student energy assessors to perform energy audits for low-income households and student rental units

Many of these efforts are nationally recognized, and have received awards from entities including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Recycling Coalition, Renew America, Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, Colorado Environmental Leadership Program, and the Colorado Governor's Office.

CU Recycling

CU Recycling is a partnership between the Environmental Center, Facilities Management, and Housing. Started in 1976, it has since grown to become one of the nation's largest and most successful campus recycling programs, with numerous awards from the Governor's Office of Energy Conservation, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Renew America, and other organizations. Recently, the National Recycling Coalition declared CU Recycling the "outstanding campus recycling program" in the nation, and the Federal Environmental Executive Office declared CU recycling the model program for campuses around the country. Over 70% of the University community participates. More than 20 students process 3-5 tons of recyclables each day at CU's own recycling facility—thus keeping 40% of campus waste out of the landfill. CU Recycling staff and interns also conduct a variety of educational projects throughout campus as well as research on how to further improve recycling at CU, in Colorado, and throughout the nation.
For more information:
Call: (303) 492-8307
or Visit:

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Sustainable Transportation

The Environmental Center's transportation program promotes the use of bicycles, mass transit, and other alternatives to single passenger cars in an effort to save energy and reduce CU's contribution to air pollution. The Sustainable Transportation program administers the Student Bus Pass Program, which allows CU students to use the HOP, SKIP, JUMP, LEAP, BOUND, and RTD regional and city buses. CU students use the bus over 1.5 millions times per year—preventing hundreds of thousands of car trips. Get involved and help shape the future of transit! 
For more information call (303) 492-6486 or visit the Transportation section of our website and the Student Bus Pass Program's website.

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Energy Programs

The Environmental Center provides energy programs for renewable energy advancement, energy conservation educational outreach, and management of the University of Colorado Student Union Energy Efficiency Fund, Climate Revolving Fund, and contracts for carbon reduction projects as an early participant in the Colorado Carbon Fund.

In Spring 2000, CU students became a national leader in clean energy by voting by a 5 to 1 margin to purchase wind power in the largest student voter turnout in University of Colorado student union history.  This clean, renewable source of energy lowered campus emissions of C02 by 2.8 million pounds each year, equaled the output of an entire wind turbine, (2 million kWh per year) and offset the power of 3 campus buildings (the UMC, Wardenburg Health Center, and the Recreational Center), making CU Boulder the largest university purchaser of wind power in the nation at the time!  Dozens of other universities soon followed suit.

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Campus Sustainability

The Environmental Center conducts research on the environmental impacts of university operations, then proposes improvements.  The Center coordinates forums to bring students, faculty, staff, and administrators together to explore program improvements and sustainability solutions.  We have hosted conferences of regional campuses to address these issues.  Over the years this has led to integration of sustainability into campus operations and policy changes.

Our work is guided by the policy principles developed in the Blueprint for a Green Campus, an environmental action plan to green CU Boulder's operations. The Blueprint proposes that CU:

  • Create a Climate-Friendly Campus
  • Grow without Increasing Traffic
  • Create a Safe and Healthy Campus
  • Green Campus Consumption and Disposal Habits

The Center also administers Sustainable CU:  The Environmental Improvement Initiative.  This student approved and funded initiative creates on-campus projects incorporating renewable energy, energy efficiency, recycling and waste reduction, and other innovative projects to reduce the campus' impact on climate and the environment.

CU Boulder's leadership in campus sustainability was reinforced in 2009, when the University filed its Conceptual Plan for Carbon Neutrality with the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, making public how the campus plans to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2009, CU Boulder was recognized as a leader in campus sustainability by Sierra Magazine, who ranked us the number one "greenest" school in the nation.

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Student Involvement, Leadership and Action

The Center works with large numbers of students who are interested in sustainability and the environment, providing access to knowledge and resources, creating funding and mentoring for student-developed programs and projects, and fostering leadership and action through meaningful volunteer, internship and job opportunities.   The result is one of the most active student environmental communities in the country and graduates who often go on to distinguished careers in sustainability.

CU students have led environmental efforts to launch the nation's first collegiate recycling program, first wind energy program, first student government carbon neutrality pledge, earth education, environmental justice, numerous groundbreaking conferences and events, zero-waste for athletic events, and a series of leadership initiatives that span the forty years of the Environmental Center's operations.

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Environmental Literacy

The Environmental Center focuses on increasing the campus community's understanding of local and global environmental issues.   The Center provides suport to academics via service learning opportunities and guest lectures.  Through extensive marketing and promotions on campus sustainability issues, we effectively communicate complex environmental issues. The Earth Education program places CU student interns and volunteers in K-12 schools to develop and teach environmental curricula.

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Educational Programs

Each year the Center sponsores dozens of slide shows, lectures, conferences, field trips and other educational activities for the University of Colorado community.

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