Nov 302008
Authors: Elyse Jarvis

Following an announcement this month that its administration will “take a hard look” at its carbon neutrality goal, CSU will, in addition, take a step back in deciding the fate of each of its green initiatives, Interim CSU President Tony Frank said last week.

Frank said it is necessary for the university to evaluate where it wants to be “on the curve of change” and must decide whether it wants to be first to introduce new green developments and practices or whether “watching to see what develops” would be a better choice.

“Progressing on green initiatives is sort of like evaluating what your risk profile on an investment is,” Frank said.

In September, former CSU President Larry Penley promised that CSU would become fully carbon neutral by 2020 and took on projects such as Maxwell Ranch, a site where he planned to build a wind farm in coming years.

Now, Penley’s carbon neutrality goals are being referred to as a “plan,” because “‘goal’ might be a strong word,” said Brad Bohlander, the university’s chief spokesperson.

Frank acknowledged that the possibility of taking a more conservative stance regarding carbon neutral technologies may “forego some benefits” but said that he believes it is time the university “take a breath, step back and evaluate.”

Taylor Smoot, student government president, said he supports Frank’s decision to re-evaluate the initiatives.

“(Reassessing goals) isn’t unusual, and I think it’s absolutely right that Tony Frank do what he needs to do and re-evaluate what’s best for the university,” Smoot said.

Administration will not set a date as to when a decision regarding the projects will be made, Frank said.

“I’m not thinking of it as a committee,” he said. “It’s more that, over the next stretch of months, we’ll be taking a broad look at all of our green initiatives, including our carbon neutrality goal.”

Given the technology that exists right now and given that the pace of change is so dramatic in issues related to the environment, Frank said, CSU might want to wait to see what technologies develop.

“Proceeding as we had been might not be the most cost-effective strategy,” he said.

Bohlander said the finances dedicated to the goals and the time in which they can be completed must be evaluated.

Though its goals and the timeline in which the university will achieve them may change, Frank said he does not foresee CSU giving up its title as the green university and said there is no disagreement in administration that the pursuit of environment-friendly tactics is necessary.

“CSU has a very rich tradition of environmental research. All of us have to pay attention to environmental issues, and ignoring those issues isn’t a very viable option,” he said.

Eric Sutherland, a Fort Collins resident who studies local green initiatives, said review of current “unrealistic” CSU projects can only help it put its best foot forward for the future.

“I never had any doubt that the people at CSU would commit to green initiatives,” he said. “And once (those initiatives) are defined in a pragmatic way, I’m sure they’ll be very successful.”

News Managing Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at

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