Published: May 30, 2024

The Campus Sustainability Executive Council convened Tuesday, May 14, to discuss the following topics:

Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)

Discussion: With the next STARS certification due in December 2024, the council discussed how CU Boulder can improve broadly and through specific categories. STARS categories include academics, engagement, operations and planning/administration and will be prioritized and acted upon as the application date approaches.

Policy proposals

Discussion: The council discussed three agenda items involving policies being proposed to campus leadership that would help advance the goals of the recently adopted Climate Action Plan and support broader campus sustainability efforts:

  • Energy Climate Management Policy: Vice Chancellor for Infrastructure and Sustainability Chris Ewing recommended bundling building standards, including temperature setpoints, space utilization and Energy Use Index (EUI) for new and renovated buildings into one policy. 

  • Fleet Management Policy/guidelines: In an effort to electrify more of the campus fleet, a policy should provide guidance around the purchase of electric vehicles. The policy should also address electric vehicle charging infrastructure. A fleet study to further determine electrification opportunities and electrical vehicle charging infrastructure will be part of the CAP first-year work plan.

  • Sustainability Council policy recommendations: The chancellor’s cabinet previously approved the following three recommendations as set forth by the Sustainability Council:

    • Reducing single-use plastics
    • Maximizing raw ditch water use
    • Water master plan

Next steps: The Sustainability Executive Council’s operations working group will present a draft of the proposed Energy Climate Management Policy and Fleet Management Policy at next month’s meeting. It was also discussed that future policy recommendations from the Sustainability Council should be brought to the Sustainability Executive Council for approval. The council plans to approve the three Sustainability Council policy recommendations at a future meeting.

Feedback and suggestions can be submitted to the Sustainability Council using this feedback form.

Climate Action Plan next steps

Discussion: Following the release of the Climate Action Plan (CAP), Chief Sustainability Officer Heidi VanGenderen gave an overview of a first-year work plan being drafted that would outline first-year activities associated with implementation of the CAP. The council discussed how to best implement future work around the categories of Scope 3 emissions reductions and equity.

Next steps: Chris Ewing and Heidi VanGenderen to present a draft of the first-year work plan at the next meeting.

Geothermal grants

Discussion: CU Boulder applied for two grants through the Colorado Energy Office to determine whether geothermal energy is feasible for the campus. Chris Ewing gave a brief update on the status of the grant applications. It is expected the campus will hear news on both grants from the Colorado Energy Office by the end of May.

Next steps: Representatives from Infrastructure and Sustainability will present what the studies would look like at the next meeting. 

Since the council’s meeting, the grants were awarded at a ceremony by the governor on May 24.

Miscellaneous agenda items

Discussion: Several agenda items are also being worked on.

  • Onsite solar array (1.1 MW) going to the Board of Regents for approval in June. Construction estimated to begin this summer/fall pending Board of Regents approval.
  • Efficiency projects in 18 buildings going to the Board of Regents for approval in June. Construction estimated to begin in fall pending Board of Regents approval.
  • Virtual net metering (5.0 MW) offsite solar array in negotiation phase with anticipated completion of agreement in coming weeks.

This is part of a series that will cover CU Boulder Sustainability Executive Council meeting agendas, discussions and decisions. The Sustainability Executive Council brings together decision-makers and leaders from across campus to drive action and accountability to achieve carbon neutrality, goals outlined in the Chancellor’s Call to Climate Action and the implementation of the campus Climate Action Plan.