Green isn’t just money

Sep 142006
Authors: Garrett Fitzgerald The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Continuing with Fort Collins’ nationally recognized green reputation, the seventh annual Rocky Mountain Sustainability Fair will be held this weekend in Fort Collins.

The fair gives the city’s local business an opportunity to display their eco-friendly ideas.

“I only went last year but it’s a really fun time,” said Allie Hoffman, a senior political science major. “They’ve got all different things, free food samples, wind power displays, a yoga and meditation tent and they have beer.”

The fair will be held this weekend at the New Belgium Brewery, 500 Linden St., and will include several keynote speakers including Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

But the green ideals don’t stop at the campus borders.

“We’re really excited for some of our new projects.” said Carol Dollard, a facilities management utility engineer for the university. “We’re always looking for new ways to help keep CSU green.”

Dollard described some of the new projects that will help cut university energy costs.

“We’re going to be installing a biomass boiler in the foothills campus. It will use woodchips, much in the same way as pellet stove, and it will be one-third the cost of propane,” Dollard said. “The new program will work with the Colorado State Forest Service using trees removed from Colorado’s national forests.”

The trees will be removed for forest-fire prevention reasons and then chopped up and used in place of propane.

Energy to burn

Dollard also addressed some of the school’s current projects, such as replacing the lighting around campus with more efficient lighting.

Roughly 2.2 percent of the university’s entire budget goes to utilities. According to an annual report from CSU, the university spent more than $13 million on electricity, gas and propane in 2005.

With so much money going into the school’s energy bill, efficient energy use is becoming a priority for officials.

Around campus, more visible energy saving projects include vending machine controllers, which turn vending machine lights off and on, based on movement in the area.

To date, these controllers, along with other techniques, have saved about $4.4 million for the university.

Annually, campus-wide conservation efforts have stopped more than 50 million pounds of harmful carbon dioxide emissions from being produced. This is the equivalent pollution of roughly 4,300 cars, according to facilities management.

The power of the wind

In addition to using energy more efficiently to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save money, the university has also begun to utilize wind power. Since 2004, CSU has offered its on-campus residents the option to buy wind energy.

For $17 a year in the residence halls, or $26 a semester in on-campus apartments, students can pay to ensure they are using wind power. On-campus residents can log on to the Housing and Dining Services Web site to sign up for wind power.

Tonie Miyamoto, communications coordinator for Housing and Dining Services, helped get the wind energy program off the ground.

“Last year we had 212 students signed up for wind power; this year there are already 275 students signed up,” Miyamoto said.

Andy Flax, a freshman technical journalism major and a Parmalee Hall resident, didn’t have strong feelings either way.

“I don’t really care,” Flax said. “It sounds like a good idea, but I really didn’t even know about it.”

Food from the farm

Student organizations around campus are also assisting the university with green projects. The Farm to School program is working with the university to use locally produced food products.

The program, backed by the Environmental Action Collective, a student organization promoting green living, hopes the program will be in full swing by the beginning of next school year.

“By using local foods the program hopes to reduce fuel use coming from transportation, while supporting local farmers who are hurting because of huge farming conglomerates,” said Hoffman, an officer for the EAC.

Hoffman noted that health benefits could be an added bonus.

“Because the farming is done locally, most of the food is already organic, which is nice,” Hoffman said.

Staff writer Garrett Fitzgerald can be reached at


Sustainability Fair

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: 500 Linden St.

What to do: There will be speakers, demonstrations, workshops, music, a beer garden and a food market

How much: $5 admission; kids under 12 are free

Energy-saving tips on campus

? Dress in layers, so you can adjust to the weather. But, if the building you are in is extremely warm or cold, call 491-0077; equipment may be out of adjustment.

? Turn off any lights or electrical equipment (i.e. stereos, radios, computers) when not in use.

? Power down computers to their resting state. Most modern computers use almost no energy when not in use. No energy is saved in “screen saver” mode.

? Use the stairs.

? Do not study in a classroom by yourself. Study in areas with others to maximize lighting efficiency.

Source: Facilities Management Sustainability Web site

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