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.
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.
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 faucets and shower heads are installed in all HDS-operated buildings, and we also have dual-flush toilets in all public restrooms.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 garden plots are available to the residents in our Graduate & Family Housing communities so they can grow and share freshly grown produce.
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.
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 is an initiative that incorporates health and sustainability into menu and recipe development and creates business strategies that integrate both environmental and nutrition science.
Be part of a community of passionate student leaders! First- and second-year residence hall students are invited to apply for this academic program that will:
EcoReps move in early to participate in a weekend retreat in the mountains of Colorado and also have the opportunity to participate in fully-funded service trips and opportunities throughout the year.
Green Room Certifications are an opportunity to learn about all the ways you can be more environmentally friendly while living on campus. From heating to water use, our student outreach team can help you recognize all the ways you can save energy and water in the halls—in two easy meetings. Once you sign up, one of our student leaders will contact you to schedule a one-on-one conversation to talk about green behaviors in the residence halls, and additional steps you can take to reduce your impact on campus. You'll also get some cool swag like reusable shopping bags, water bottles, gift cards and more! About two weeks after your first meeting, you'll have a follow-up visit with to track your progress and answer any questions you might still have. Easy to do and you get a chance to win some great prizes, too!
We will also help you get connected with clubs, events and leadership programs through in-person conversations about your interests—making CU easy to navigate for new students interested in sustainability and environmental action. Sign up now, and get certified!
Williams Village North (WVN) is one of our newer residence halls and it was awarded LEED Platinum rating at its completion. Being LEED certified basically means it is resource efficient and uses less water and energy than a typical building. WVN is also our only hall equipped with state-of-the-art technology that provides real-time data about energy consumption. This unique feature allows residents (or any interested student, parent or community member) to view electricity consumption by floor or area just by visiting the Building Dashboard website. It also allows virtual visitors to take a tour of the building's other sustainable components like the grey water system, native landscaping, the recycled construction materials, day lighting and passive cooling and the solar domestic hot water system.
To learn more about the sustainable features of Williams Village North, visit the Building Dashboard website.
Buckingham Hall is the location for a first-of-its-kind pilot program at CU to test composting in a residence hall. This year, Lucy Haggard, who is the building's EcoRep, is spearheading the initiative to promote sustainably responsible behavior through education and events. She has been teaching her co-residents how and what to compost as well as reinforcing their knowledge of good recycling practices. The end-goal is to try to make Buckingham a zero-waste environment, meaning that little to no trash is produced. Instead, all products are either reused, recycled or composted. If the program is successful, it will likely be incorporated into additional halls in the future.
For additional information on composting, visit the ECenter website.
Sustainability work requires community, and that's why I love it. Without every perspective at the table, you can't reach true sustainability. We need every voice, every specialty; no person or idea is disposable.