Published: Dec. 13, 2023

Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke has announced the formation of a Campus Sustainability Executive Council aimed at driving action and accountability around CU Boulder’s carbon neutrality commitments and implementation of the forthcoming campus Climate Action Plan (CAP)

Charged by Chancellor Philip DiStefano to lead overarching campus sustainability implementation efforts, O’Rourke will chair the council, which brings together leaders with operational responsibilities from across campus to make policy and resource recommendations needed to move this vital work forward. 

The big picture

“Campus leaders share our community’s values and desire for urgent climate action,” O’Rourke said.

“We also recognize that action, transparency and accountability are critical if we are to make CU Boulder carbon neutral and identify the intermediate milestones and resources needed to achieve that goal. With this council, we are pulling together leaders whose day-to-day roles impact planning, financing and upgrading our campus infrastructure.  

“Our Climate Action Plan will outline our path, including the significant financial investment and logistic coordination required. The council will be focused toward action, accelerating our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality while making sure we maintain the resilience that is critical to ensuring our academic and research mission thrives without interruption.”

Council goals

  • Deliver the campus road map and milestones for achieving carbon neutrality.
  • Align campus priorities to achieve platinum rating within two reporting cycles for the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS)—the premier ranking system for sustainability among colleges and universities.
  • Coordinate efforts across various campus sustainability groups, such as the existing Sustainability Council and the Environmental Center.
  • Convene regular public update forums on campus actions, gaps and needs.
  • Support fundraising efforts to enable sustained investment in climate action.
  • Identify and prioritize sustainability actions that support related student success; diversity, equity and inclusion; health and wellness; and employee engagement goals.

Council structure

The executive council is organizing its structure in alignment with the STARS reporting categories. The executive council (Planning and Administration category) will include:

  • Chairperson: Patrick O’Rourke, COO
  • Chris Ewing, vice chancellor for infrastructure and sustainability
  • Todd Haggerty, chief financial officer
  • Katy Kotlarczyk, vice chancellor for advancement
  • Kim Kruchen, associate director of strategic initiatives
  • Jon Leslie, chief communications officer
  • Shelly Miller, Boulder Faculty Assembly chairperson
  • D’Andra Mull, vice chancellor for student affairs
  • Josh Radoff, Masters of the Environment Renewable and Sustainable Energy Specialization lead
  • Kirsten Schuchman, associate vice chancellor for public policy
  • Heidi VanGenderen, chief sustainability officer

An Operations Working Group—co-led by Ewing, VanGenderen and Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management Brian Lindoerfer—will lead implementation of the Climate Action Plan and ensure key performance metrics are met.

A Campus and Public Engagement Working Group—co-led by Leslie and Associate Vice Chancellor for Local Government and Community Relations Lori Call, and including representatives from campus governance groups—will coordinate communications and outreach, including educational content on how individuals and groups can contribute to CU Boulder’s climate goals.

The executive council will ensure STARS reporting needs are met for the Academics and Innovation/Leadership categories through regular information sharing with Academic Affairs and Research & Innovation Office leadership, as well as with other campus administrative stakeholders.

The existing CU Boulder Sustainability Council—a cross-campus group of students, faculty and staff established in 2022 to make recommendations regarding policies, programs, initiatives and investments to advance sustainability—will help inform the work of the executive council.   

Learn more about the Campus Sustainability Executive Council, including working group structure and progress.

Climate Action Plan engagement opportunities

In follow-up to the Climate Action Plan kickoff in October 2022 and CAP town hall in April, the CAP steering committee will engage key campus stakeholders for additional feedback in January prior to the draft CAP being released for student, faculty and staff open comment. 

Additionally, students, faculty and staff are invited to a Jan. 25 virtual forum where O’Rourke and others will provide an overview of the new council structure and the status of the CAP, as well as answer questions from campus and community stakeholders.