Lightbulb with artistic flowers growing inside

The Environmental Center invites students to present their ideas for sustainable innovations and solutions for the University of Colorado Boulder in the second annual Buffs Sustainable Solutions Challenge. Students are invited to share their ideas for making our community more sustainable by creating short-pitch presentations. These pitches should address environmental quality, natural resource use, social justice and economic longevity at CU Boulder or through the CU system. Students can participate in groups or as individuals. The winning proposal will be awarded $1000, and the runner-up will be awarded $600 and the winner of the audience choice award will receive $400. 

Interested students can sign up to participate or learn more. The Environmental Center will host workshops during the Spring semester for teams and individuals who are looking for an idea or want to hone one they already have. The Buffs Sustainable Solutions Challenge pitch competition will take place on April 8, 2021. 


Why You Should Participate!

  • Potentially win up to $1,400

  • See your idea come to life if it’s chosen for implementation

  • Gain valuable experience for your resume

  • Network with fellow Buffs and experts in sustainability

  • Learn more about local and global sustainability



Each group or individual participant will create an executive summary, a slide deck, and a ten minute presentation that addresses the details of their proposal. After an executive summary and a slide deck are submitted by March 30, ten groups or individuals will be selected to present at pitch night. Proposals can cover any topic area. Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Anticipated impact

  • Innovation in addressing a sustainability issue

  • The feasibility of the idea


The participant information packet contains instructions and information for participants, including eligibility, submission requirements and evaluation criteria.  


Important Dates

November 15: Registration Opens

January 15: Participant Information Packet posted

February 3, 5pm and February 9, 5pm: Information Sessions 

Come to get information about the Sustainable Solutions Challenge, explore ideas about potential proposals, and meet potential teammates interested in participating.  Sign up here to attend February 3.  Sign up here to attend February 9.  

March 10, 5-7pm | Ideation and Pitch Workshop

Registered and potential participants can understand the proposal components, refine their concepts and receive feedback from campus and sustainability staff.  Sign up here to attend the proposal workshop on March 10. 

March 30 | Proposal Submission deadline

Registration by March 1 is not required to submit a pitch proposal by March 30.

April 8 | Pitch Competition

Limited to 10 registered teams with the top ranking proposals for Sustainability Solutions for the Boulder campus.  


Resources for Developing Your Pitch

The resources listed here are good places to get ideas and support for your team.

  • Environmental Center events - The Environmental Center is the go-to resources for sustainability engagement and information at CU Boulder.  Opportunities such as the Eco-Social Solutions series and Sustainable Buffs Community are ideal places to find inspiration for new ideas and to meet new potential team members and advisors to help your team claim the top prize. Also, check out the Environmental Center homepage for more inspiration, ideas, and connections. 

  • New Venture Challenge - This entrepreneurial accelerator hosts workshops throughout the Spring semester that help students prepare solid arguments and smooth presentations in a business pitch setting. If your innovation is based around a private business or social enterprise, you may want to consider applying to compete for their Sustainability special prize.

  • CU Boulder STARS Report - The CU STARS report is a periodic sustainability report that CU organizes in line with AASHE university sustainability standards. You can use this report to learn about the University's past sustainability efforts and where there is room for improvement on campus. 

  • CU Boulder Climate Action Plan - The CU Boulder Conceptual Plan for Climate Neutrality provides abundant information on the University’s top priorities for climate action and plans to reach carbon neutrality. 

  • Sustainability Master Plan - Section 3 of the Campus Master Plan, which focuses on sustainability, outlines the campus targets for waste, energy, greenhouse gases, and water looking to 2050. This document will provide helpful guidance on choosing your area of impact and defining your innovation’s benefits to the CU Boulder campus.

  • CU Writing Center - The writing center may be used as a resource to refine your final proposal.


Top Boulder Sustainability Challenges and Opportunities

Proposals can cover any topic area.  If you are looking for ideas, consider that the UCB campus has adopted goals that are ripe for innovation:

  1. Reaching a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 (from 2005 Baseline)

  2. Reaching a campus wide 90% landfill diversion rate

  3. Move to a higher proportion of transportation fuels derived from renewable resources

  4. Enhance on site management of stormwater and reduce water used for landscaping

Explore these issues and more at the information session, proposal workshop, and Environmental Center Events


2020 Challenge

In spring 2020, CU Boulder students competed in a campus-wide pitch competition with proposals to help make our campus more sustainable. Their ideas ranged from green roofs to new hygiene technology.   Read more about the spring 2020 competition and proposals. 


For questions and support, and to submit your project proposal, email