Energy Star Equipment

We purchase EPA Energy Star-rated equipment whenever possible, which operate with increased efficiency and reduce both energy needs and pollution. The micro-fridges that come in every residence hall room are Energy Star rated.

Efficient Computing

Across Housing & Dining Services we utilize a virtual desktop environment, which reduces the amount of servers required to operate 250+ desktop computers, cutting our electricity use by 75%.


We utilize motion-sensor activated LED and CFL lights where feasible, which are more efficient, durable, versatile and longer-lasting.


Housing & Dining Services has three solar installations—at the C4C, the Village Center and Bear Creek Apartments. Combined, they produce approximately 420,000 kWh each year, which if converted to greenhouse emissions, is equal to 43.6 homes' electricity use in a 12-month period.

Raw Water

Housing & Dining Services' grounds team uses raw water (from Boulder Creek and rain run-off) irrigation to feed lawns and landscaping, saving over 13,000,000 gallons of treated water per year.

Low Flow

Low-flow faucets and shower heads are installed in all HDS-operated buildings, and we also have dual-flush toilets in all public restrooms.

Water Stations

Triple-filtered water bottle fill stations are installed in all residence halls and other HDS-operated buildings, which keep track each time a bottle is filled. Last year, the water stations were used over 1.1 millions times!

Commercial Refrigeration

Closed-loop cooling systems have been installed in our commercial refrigerators and freezers which ends up saving over 100,000 gallons of water per unit, per year.

Compost Tea

We utilize compost and raw water to make our own compost tea. This is used as a natural fertilizer on our lawns and landscaping, reducing and sometimes eliminating chemical fertilizers from entering the water table. Check out this cool video!

What is Zero Waste?

Zero waste is an approach to waste management that emphasizes a cradle-to-cradle theory, where a material or product is recycled into a new product at the end of its life. It strives for reduced material use, increased use of benign materials, creation of longer product lives and reparability and increased ease of disassembly at end of life.  

Donation Drive

During fall and spring move-out every year, we hold a reusable goods drive called Give-and-Go. Students donate everything from clothing and bedding to electronics and sporting goods. Last year we diverted over 28 tons of perfectly good items to local charities instead of it ending up in a landfill.


We collect all of our pre- and post-consumer food waste in the dining centers, which is then sent to and processed by A1 Organics in Eaton, Colorado. They produce compost and mulch, available to local companies and citizens for landscaping.


We conduct product purchasing using the triple bottom line, which incorporates taking the social, environmental and financial impacts into consideration when making purchases. This can include things like how the product was sourced, how far it has to travel to reach us and the amount and type of packaging it comes in.


We recycle paper, aluminum, glass, cardboard, plastic wrap, wooden delivery pallets, light bulbs, batteries and used cooking oil (for biodiesel). We also make if very easy for students to participate by providing bins almost everywhere and by providing recycling ambassadors at move-in to start educating students right away.

Compostable Product Purchasing

A selection of compostable dishware is available for staff to purchase directly through Campus Dining Services. This helps keep prices low and makes it easy to hold zero-waste events on campus without a lot of hassle! Visit the compostable product page for items, prices and order form.

What LEED Certification Means

LEED (Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design) Certified buildings generally use 25% less energy and have 36% fewer emissions compared to the national average, and we are committed to constructing all new buildings to meet strict LEED criteria. Housing & Dining Services currently has two LEED Platinum and six LEED Gold rated residence halls as well as the Center for Community (where our largest dining center is located) which is also LEED Platinum. Browse this section to discover some of the specific features that make some of our buildings green.

Phantom Load Outlets

To help save energy, some halls have phantom load switches installed. The black switch is tied to the black outlets in the room, so when the switch is turned off, so is the equipment plugged in to those outlets. A separate (regular) outlet is reserved for things you don't want to switch off, like the micro-fridge.

Building Materials

Both local and recycled materials are used in the construction process to reduce the ecological impacts of creating new materials and also shipping them to their new location. The beautiful large tables in the Village Center Dining are made from Colorado beetle-kill pine.


New landscaping around Housing & Dining Services buildings is done with native plant-life, which has less fertilizer and irrigation requirements and does not negatively impact local ecosystems. It's also beautiful!


One great feature of our new LEED HVAC are the controls and sensors connected to the systems that can determine when a room is in use. This prevents unnecessary heating and cooling of areas that are unoccupied, which can save a significant amount of energy.


The windows installed in the new Village Center are electrochromic, which means that as the sun impacts them, the windows automatically darken. This reduces the needs for air cooling and window coverings and increases natural lighting and the enjoyment of all the amazing views from the building.

Waste Redirection

Pre-consumer food waste from commissary preparation operations is redirected from compost collection and given to a local farm (The Golden Hoof) to be used as animal feed.  


A commercial sized biodigester has been installed to treat compost in the new Village Dining Center. The process results in an eco-friendly product that is safely re-added to the waste-water supply.

Community Gardens

Community garden plots are available to the residents in our Graduate & Family Housing communities so they can grow and share freshly grown produce.

Sea to Table

We purchase through the Sea To Table program, which sources wild, domestic seafood that is sustainably harvested. This practice helps prevent overfishing and promotes the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans.

Food Sourcing

Offer an ever-growing selection of organic, natural and local products in all of our dining operations. We also support the university Fair Food Statement of Values

Menus of Change

Menus of Change is an initiative that incorporates health and sustainability into menu and recipe development and creates business strategies that integrate both environmental and nutrition science.