Nestled smack dab in the middle of one of the greenest, enthusiastically vegetarian and heavily dreadlocked cities in America, the University of Colorado – Boulder (otherwise known as CU – Boulder) is a top-rate learning institution with an even more aggressive plan for eco-domination. Embracing an outstanding list of planet-friendly qualities, the school, which earned the distinction of being Sierra Magazine’s reigning eco-champ in 2009 (a position that dipped in 2010 to a still respectable 13 out of 4,440 American campuses), sets the bar exceedingly high for today’s academic organizations.
Life at CU-Boulder
Curious to learn why it’s at the top of its class? Consider CU – Boulder’s most notable eco-credentials:
  • A four-phase sustainability strategy was developed to address a steady reduction in carbon emissions throughout the next four decades (by up to 80%).
  • Waste? What waste? In addition to implementing a student-operated recycling system as far back as 1976, the school is nearing a zero-waste goal via hundreds of campuswide dual-stream recycling containers and are now recycling and/or donating end-of-semester castaways in an effort to successfully liberate dumpsters.
  • By 2015, dining halls on campus will be 25% organic — a 15% increase in the current fare offered to students today — as well as 25% natural and 25% locally grown.
  • The student center’s decision to banish Styrofoam food containers in favor of eco-alternatives that contain recycled content or are easily biodegradable and compostable is nice, but even better is the availability of new reusable food containers available for $3 to $5, which are swapped out for clean versions with each new takeout order.
  • 200+ tons of annual food waste is composted rather than landfilled, and in 2009 alone, 200,000+ gallons of cafeteria waste oil was donated to a biodiesel company.
  • In conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Lab, a wind research park was created to benefit Colorado’s energy grid.
  • In an effort to encourage eco-friendly transportation, students are offered bus passes (which support biofueled options) along with a free bike-share program, plus the nonprofit organization eGo CarShare is even doubling its fleet.
  • Thanks to a $2-million grant, university officials are planning to create a “living wall” that will ultimately reduce energy consumption by as much as 95%.
  • The student-supported Colorado Carbon Fund enables the campus to offset its emissions while also creating energy-efficient community initiatives.
  • All building renovations and new construction projects — such as the Williams Village residence hall, currently underway — will be executed with LEED efficiency standards in mind. A recent example is with Andrew’s Hall, which due to the installation of water efficiency devices, new windows and enhanced heating/cooling/ventilation systems, will likely consume 25% less energy and 20% less water.
  • Officials are also considering the installation of shower timers in the Baker Hall dormitory, potentially reducing water pressure after a certain period of time to discourage excessive use or shutting the flow off completely.
  • The campus is home to the highly influential Center of the American West, which brainstorms ways to address today’s most pressing Western land and energy issues.
  • Hundreds of solar panels totaling 336 kilowatts of solar-generated power have been installed campuswide, including on the rooftop of the Wolf Law Building, the Center for Innovation and Creativity, the Coors Events Center, the chancellor’s residence, the Mountain Research Station and the Housing System Maintenance Center.
  • Additional green perks include filtered water stations conveniently located right outside of food outlets, the sale of green-themed products in the student center, zero-waste student orientation barbecues/football games, an on-campus electric car-charging station and power strips that automatically turn off electronics that aren’t being used
  • The student government’s recently announced paper reduction goals would be achieved through the distribution of electronic documents when at all possible, contributing to an estimated 90% drop in paper consumption.