Published: April 22, 2022

A year after the Call to Climate Action by Chancellor Philip DiStefano, the 29th Annual Campus Sustainability Summit showed how CU is answering the call. The day before Earth Day, multiple undergraduate, graduate, doctoral students, faculty and staff came together to showcase their research and ideas for a more sustainable future at the 29th Annual Campus Sustainability Showcase. Here are a few highlights from this year's showcase. 

Campus Leadership

  • Joshua Radoff’s presentation explained how CU’s Climate Action Plan is going to be created with social justice as a key piece and a path for campus attaining carbon neutrality by 2050.

  • Green Lab’s Kathy Ramirez-Aguilar, showed how a pilot program for teaching green chemistry will have a far reaching impact toward environmental justice. 

  • Right Here Right Now Global Climate Summit keynote reveal. Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and climate justice advocate, will be giving the inaugural keynote speech at UNRHRN global summit that is to be held at the CU Boulder campus this fall. Senior Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Communications Officer Jon Leslie expressed how CU Boulder was chosen for this opportunity because we have been and need to continue to Be Boulder.   

Student Innovation

  • Competing for $25,000 in prize funding furnished by the Mission Zero Fund at CU Boulder, many students shared their ideas for change at the ground level, starting at CU, and then working up the ladder. Projects ranged from changing fashion to changing the physical building blocks of campus. The grand-prize-winning group, which focused on upcycling old clothing, stated that their project is “About giving a new life to a product, it looks brand new because it is brand new. We are giving new life to post-consumer products.”

  • One student was overheard saying “This gives me hope,” while strolling through the Campus Sustainability Summit Solutions Showcase exhibit floor. 

  • Parker McMullen Bushman said in her keynote that “we need to give people the ideas and vision for what lies on the other side. People need to understand where we are going.” It's safe to say that the participants of this Campus Sustainability Summit have done just that. 

Campus Climate Action

  • Since last year, the campus Energy Master Plan was released, BCycle hit one million rides, Green Chemistry piloted an integrated Green Chemistry Intro Course, and CU Boulder was selected to host the UN Right Here Right Now Global Climate Summit.

  • Multiple presentations tackled how CU can adopt and take on new and developing to be sustainable initiatives to continue to lead the way in environmental and sustainable practices. Many student projects helped tackle CU’s ambitious climate action plan of increasing sustainable transportation, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and eventual carbon neutrality. 

Centering on Justice

  • Parker McMullen Bushman, the keynote speaker, suggested another meaning for the phrase “I can’t breathe” in her speech. She explained that the phrase "I can’t breathe" means that a person does not have something essential for survival, and that racism is killing the planet because basic needs of these communities are not met. When people are spending loads of energy just to survive and save themselves, it’s hard to come to conversations to save the planet. It’s not a matter of people not caring, but not having their basic needs met. These communities already have answers and solutions to climate change; they just need the resources to make it happen. 

Collective Vision

  • Students and guests had the opportunity to vote on actions plans that they support and ones they view as the most important for CU to tackle. Some of the most popular choices were having more sustainable transportation, sustainable food throughout campus & reusable takeout boxes that could be an option at all campus dining options. 

In collaboration with campus partners, CU Environmental Center has produced a Campus Sustainability Summit annually or semi-annually since 1994 for the campus community. The Campus Sustainability Summit and the Campus Sustainability Awards program are sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Infrastructure and Sustainability and the CUSG Environmental Center. In 2022, the Summit was also supported by the Mission Zero Fund at CU Boulder. 

As a global leader in climate, environmental and energy research, CU Boulder is partnering with United Nations Human Rights to co-host the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit in fall 2022.