By: Madalyne Staab
SU’s colors may be green and gold, but now they should also be platinum. Recently CSU achieved platinum level in sustainability. CSU is the only university in the US and in the world to achieve platinum level. The rating comes under the STARS system, which stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating, and is thought to be the most comprehensive and prestigious sustainability performance measurement program.
CSU has always been one of the most environmentally friendly campuses, but now it seems all of our initiatives have paid off. The campus has numerous LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings, meaning they promote renewable energy and eco-friendly building strategies and practices. Certified LEED buildings on campus include Aspen Hall in Academic Village, the Durrell Center and Summit Hall. Other buildings in the process of gaining LEED certification include Laurel Village and the Pavilion and Edwards and Parmelee Halls.
Some new initiatives the campus has done to become so green is putting in new solar panels on the roofs of Edwards, Parmelee and Braiden Halls, renovating old buildings and replacing windows and adding in better efficient insulation to increase the efficiency 300%, and installing over 700 ultra-flow showerheads in many of the dormitories. Those new showerheads have saved nearly 2.3 million gallons of water every year since they were installed (2011).
Besides numerous renovations and upgrades, CSU has also tried to be more eco-friendly when it comes to dining. Over 20 percent of the food served in the numerous dining centers is grown locally or comes from local farms, including all milk, eggs, breads, meat, sauces and many fruits and vegetables. The dining center also tries to provide as much organic food as possible, along with numerous options for people with different food allergies. This year dining services opened up their own in-house gluten free bakery.
Two other changes the dining centers have made to become more environmentally friendly is to move away from trays. This has led to a decrease in food waste, which gets measured every year during the Food Waste Audit (which happened this past Tuesday). By not using trays the amount of food waste has decreased by 40 percent. The second change was replacing Styrofoam containers for compostable to-go containers. This has eliminated 353,600 Styrofoam containers from heading to the landfill annually.
The dining center also does good for the wider community. Leftover and unserved food gets taken to the Larimer County Food Bank. In 2013 CSU donated over 65,000 pounds of food to the food bank.
You must be blind if you have not realized how many people bike to and around campus. According to a survey, 36 percent of students bike to CSU regularly. Another 13 percent walk and 11 percent take the bus, leaving only 34 percent of students actually driving to campus. That survey was taken back in 2008, and so I am guessing those numbers have gone up since then. CSU, and Fort Collins in general, is very biker friendly. This helps make it easy to get around campus and the rest of the city quite easily.
And if you do not feel like biking, or if the weather gets bad, CSU has also recently partnered with Transfort to create the on-campus bus route, Around the Horn. This new initiative helps students and faculty get around campus quicker and safer. Each bus arrives at one of the 13 designated stops every 10 minutes, making it easy to hop on and off and get to your next class.
You can also take Around the Horn to the new CSU MAX stop located on the east side of campus next to the CSU track. MAX has 12 stops along the Mason Corridor, making it easy and cheap (i.e. FREE) to get to Target for some quick school supplies, a movie night up on Horsetooth or a safe ride back to campus after a long night at the bars in Old Town.
If you are looking to get involved with sustainability and green projects at CSU then definitely check out all of the available clubs, like the Student Sustainability Center (SSC) whose mission is to educate and engage students on environmental projects and opportunities. They also host a lot of speakers and show movies in hopes of raising awareness. So if you are looking to get involved or just looking for a good volunteer opportunity (or you just feel like helping the environment) make sure to check out their Green Bulletin, which posts information on upcoming projects.
Another good club is Eco Leaders. Each dorm on campus has an eco leader whose job involves spreading the word on upcoming green events, educating hall students on ways to be more eco-friendly and being a resource for students who may have questions about environmental practices or on ways to get more involved in the sustainable movement.
CSU has a ton of other fun and outdoorsy clubs that you can become a part of. Likewise, if you are just looking to volunteer and help out our Mother Earth some weekend there are many places, either on campus or around town.
With spring now finally here and summer just around the corner, why not do your part and make our parks and natural areas that much more beautiful.
CSU is lucky enough to have such a strong environmentally friendly outlook. The campus is home to numerous sustainable buildings with even more in the works, they push for a more biker friendly campus and they cherish groups and ideas that revolve around being eco-friendly. CSU truly is Green.