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Environment / Sustainability

University reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent in Fiscal Year 2009

September 15, 2009

Cooler weather and measures designed to reduce energy use across campus helped the university cut its greenhouse gas emissions by about 3 percent in the past year, according to a new survey by the Department of Facilities Management.

Electricity, natural gas, and propane are bulk of university emissions 

A worker installs a solar panel on the roof of the Engineering Building in June.

Electricity (52 percent) coupled with natural gas and propane (25 percent) accounted for the bulk of the emissions on roughly 90,000 acres that includes the Fort Collins campus as well as Agricultural Experiment Stations and Extension offices around the state.

Emissions measured in fiscal year 2009 totaled 223,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide compared with 230,600 in fiscal year 2008 – a 3 percent decline. The survey does not include CSU-Pueblo.

Metric tons per gross square footage declined even more – by 9 percent – despite the addition of the three buildings within the Academic Village, the Computer Science Building and the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory on the Foothills Campus, said Carol Dollard, energy engineer for Colorado State.

Committed to doing our part

“This is evidence that the Colorado State community is sensitive to the university’s impact on the environment and that our students and employees are making necessary changes to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Tom Gorell, senior vice president for Administrative Services. “Especially in these hard economic times, Colorado State remains committed to doing our part to create a more sustainable future for residents of Colorado and the world.”

The university began measuring greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 as part of the university’s participation in the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment. The inventory also helps members of the university community understand their impact on the environment, Dollard said.

Examples of beneficial actions

The new Diagnostic Medicine Center located at 300 West Drake Road, Building C, was built with environmentally friendly elements.

Examples of Colorado State projects or actions that have directly led to emissions reductions:

  • Reduced airline travel by employees
  • New, more efficient district cooling plant
  • Installation of more efficient heating and cooling units campuswide
  • Addition of new buildings with significant environmentally friendly elements (e.g., the Ram’s Horn dining hall in the Academic Village)

“We can still do a lot more as a campus as far as conservation efforts, but we’re generally pleased that we’re headed in the right direction,” Dollard said.

"Green is Gold" conserves

While more new buildings will come online in the next year, most will include features to help reduce energy usage, Dollard said. Additionally, the university community has stepped up to take individual responsibility: So far, 43 groups have committed to the “Green is Gold” program, which is a campuswide campaign urging campus employees to cut energy and resource use, particularly during these difficult economic times.

The "Green is Gold" program started in 2001 - when natural gas prices began to soar - as a campuswide campaign to save energy and help the university control costs. Colorado State has revived this program to increase participation in the university's sustainability practices by encouraging individuals and teams of CSU employees to commit to conservation measures on their floor, department and/or college.

Solar projects

Additionally, this summer, the university announced it would host a two-megawatt solar project that is now under construction on the Foothills Campus. The university also recently added a biomass boiler on the Foothills Campus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut energy costs. The heating plant will burn wood chips rather than rely solely on natural gas to provide hot water for the Judson M. Harper Research Complex.

Colorado State also recently added solar panels on the roof of the Engineering Building and at the Academic Village. Similar projects are planned on two buildings that are under construction: the Academic Instruction Building just south of the Clark Building and the parking garage at Centre Avenue and Prospect Road.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336