What makes CSU environmentally friendly

Matthew Bailey

With Colorado State University’s position at the convergence of the third-longest mountain chain in the world and one of the world’s largest prairies, it’s no wonder that a plethora of sustainability and environment-related programs and initiatives can be found on campus.

“CSU is one of the nation’s leading universities for sustainability and environmental programs,” wrote Rob Novak, communications director for the Warner College of Natural Resources, in an email to The Collegian.

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Home to over 45 student organizations focused on sustainability, CSU also houses the Warner College of Natural Resources, which offers comprehensive natural resources education through nine undergraduate majors, and the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, which offers minors in environmental sustainability and water, Novak wrote.

“In nearly every college and department, there is something related to sustainability and the environment, from sustainability in marketing and business, design and merchandise, political science and environmental ethics, the built environment, bioengineering and atmospheric sciences, biology and zoology, sustainable agriculture and water, just to name a few,” Novak wrote.

Stemming from these programs and other campus initiatives, various projects aiming to make CSU a more environmentally friendly space have come into fruition, tackling issues such as climate change, wildlife and composting.

Here are some of the most recent environmental initiatives that have taken place at CSU:

Composting

Formed in spring 2017, the Zero Waste Team at CSU collects and properly disposes of waste products while also educating students at events on what is recyclable, compostable and trash.

The Zero Waste Team began its work in summer 2017, organizing a compost collection at the then newly-opened Canvas Stadium. The team has since helped manage waste at basketball games, football games, Ram Welcome, Ag Day and Engineering Days, among other events.

The Zero Waste Team implements a sorting process that ensures only proper waste materials are placed in concordant bins. The team has worked to increase public access to composting in academic buildings and encourages students to use reusable materials.

Additionally, CSU is one of the only institutions in northern Colorado that has its own composting facility. Located at the Foothills Campus, the facility was expanded in 2017 with the addition of its windrow composting system that handles organic waste.

Bees on campus

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The CSU Apiculture Club built four new beehives off Centre Avenue in May and supplied them with six packages of European honey bees. Each package contained approximately 5,000 bees and a single queen bee. A total of $5,147 was used for the project.

The location for the beehives was chosen in conjunction with the location of the Horticulture Center, which was built in 2015. The beehives foster an educational purpose, allowing students to learn about bees and beekeeping.

The bees provide a welcoming space for native Colorado bee species to pollinate community gardens and supply honey for the dining halls at CSU.

CSU was certified as a bee campus in January 2018, making it the only campus in Colorado with this distinction.

CSU Mountain Campus

The 1,600-acre CSU Mountain Campus, located at 9,000 feet in elevation between Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Rocky Mountain National Park, open between mid-May and mid-October, has provided educational and natural opportunities for over 100 years.

The Mountain Campus held its first academic class in 1915 and was designated an official CSU campus in the 1960s.

The campus hosts approximately 200 natural science students every year, and since the 1970s, has been the location of Eco Week, an educational program for fifth and sixth-grade students in the Poudre School District that saw an attendance of 1,700 students in 2018.

The isolation of the campus creates a space that allows visitors to appreciate the natural world around them.

Climate change research

One of seven partners to the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, CSU initially received $300,000 of a $4.5 million federal grant from the United States Geological Survey in 2018 to study the effects climate change has on the American Southwest.

With this funding, CSU plays a leading role in research on terrestrial ecosystems and water policy, studying how land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers adapt to climate change in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and the Colorado River system.

Matt Bailey can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MattBailey760.