It’s not easy being green, but Colorado State University (CSU), labeled by some as the greenest university in the U.S., does it better than most.
CSU was the first American college campus to achieve platinum status under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Established in 2005, AASHE helps colleges and universities strengthen their sustainability efforts and recognizes those campuses that lead the country in green initiatives and practices.
So how did CSU earn its platinum status? Here are a few of the ways Colorado State has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability:
- More than 960 of CSU’s 2,633 for-credit courses are related to sustainability, while an additional 532 non-credit continuing-education courses feature sustainability content. The course offers sustainability-related majors and minors in all eight colleges, spanning across programs in engineering, forestry, public policy, environmental ethics, global and sustainable businesses, soil and crop sciences, and many others.
- Nearly all (90%) of Colorado State’s academic departments conduct sustainability-related research.
- In 2014, CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources became the first institution in the nation to offer a Master of Greenhouse Gas Management and Accounting degree, one of several graduate-level degrees with an environmental focus.
- CSU’s scientists and engineers built the world’s first solar-heated/air-conditioned building.
- The campus has 25 charging stations for electric cars.
- Colorado State’s Sustainability Leadership Fellows program gives early-career academics the tools and techniques they need to work on the grand challenges of sustainability.
- Despite a growing student population and an ever-expanding campus, CSU has cut its water use by 24% over the past 10 years.
- CSU’s 5.3 megawatt solar energy plant stretches across 30 acres and is one of the largest at a U.S. college or university.
- The university’s scientists partnered with NASA to create the world’s most sensitive cloud-profiling radar, CloudSat. Orbiting hundreds of miles above the earth, CloudSat monitors climate change and global warming activity from outer space.
- Colorado State’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability offers more than a half-dozen undergraduate and graduate-level courses in subjects ranging from sustainable energy to sustainability and the law.
- CSU’s Housing & Dining Services provides trayless dining, reducing plate waste at its dining centers by 40 percent, and offers compostable to-go containers, which eliminate 350,000-plus Styrofoam containers from landfills each year. Three of those dining centers have pulpers that collect food and paper waste for composting.