CSU working towards future sustainability initiatives

Corbin Reiter

For years, Colorado State University has maintained that sustainability is at the forefront of the values held at an institutional level. The CSU state of sustainability mentions that sustainability is central to everything done in association with CSU.

The efforts to cultivate sustainability within CSU have been rewarded with repeated Platinum Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System ratings and will continue to grow through efforts of larger plans that have been implemented.

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According to the CSU website, “As a land-grant university, we’re compelled to steward, conserve and protect the world around us. It’s central to everything we do — from academics, research and operations to outreach.”

While CSU has received the Platinum rating from STARS, the score recorded was not perfect. The lowest scoring section on the most recent submission was Operations, according to the STARS website.

A strategic plan is a long term visioning document, not a detailed action plan.So we set goals in a strategic plan, then have to do additional work to figure out how we implement projects to meet those goals.”

– Carol Dollard, CSU Energy Engineer

“Note that the Operations is the lowest percent score in STARS for CSU, but it is true for nearly all STARS reporters,” said Carol Dollard, CSU energy engineer.

Dollard further explained that STARS has set the bar high for Operations. For example, all buildings on campus would have to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum to get all the points in the New Buildings category. CSU has several buildings that are LEED certified, but only a handful that are LEED Platinum.

A Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum plaque in the The Pavilion at Laurel Village April 13. The Pavilion was CSU’s first LEED certified platinum building, which is one of the requirements to get a perfect Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System rating. (Ryan Schmidt | Collegian)

CSU Facilities Management has jurisdiction over many of the points of rating outlined within the STARS form. Programs and initiatives originating in their department have the largest impact on the STARS rating for CSU.

The CSU Sustainability Strategic Plan has several sections that are headed by Stacey Baumgarn and Dollard, both of whom work in Facilities Management. These sections are directly related to the lowest scoring STARS sections.

“Each, if not all, of the goal areas of the (President’s Sustainability Commission) Strategic Plan, were mapped to one or more of the goals of the University Strategic Plan,” Baumgarn said.   

New initiatives have been put in place to continue improving the sustainability capabilities of CSU operations and improving the STARS rating in the process.

“A strategic plan is a long term visioning document, not a detailed action plan,” Dollard said. “So we set goals in a strategic plan, then have to do additional work to figure out how we implement projects to meet those goals.”

The strategic plan is specifically addressing the sustainability culture within individual departments, along with the reduction of water and electricity. These proposals have been met with a quantifiable change in recent history.

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“We have an Energy Reserve Fund — an energy and water efficiency revolving fund where the savings from the previous year’s projects are rolled back into the fund to help fund future projects,” Dollard said.

The Energy Reserve Fund has contributed to campus sustainability projects and the installation of new fixtures to campus, including new lighting, plumbing fixtures and HVAC equipment, Dollard said.

Continuing into the future, other programs will continue to address different shortcomings in CSU sustainability. There are currently several projects being designed to address carbon emissions on campus and to continue to improve CSU, Dollard said.

“CSU has set the goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 — since that category is half our GHG (greenhouse gas) footprint, it will reduce our GHG emissions by 50%, but we have a decade to accomplish that, so you won’t likely see drastic reductions in any one year,” Dollard said.

Corbin Reiter can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CorbinReiter.