Almost every day, I hear people bashing CSU for calling itself “The Green University,” and it breaks my heart. As a junior at this university, I have experienced three years of green initiatives that show CSU’s potential to be a world leader in sustainability.
Let me start with the C+ that CSU scored on the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s “Green Report Card.” Although it is true that we scored lower than last year and lower than CU-Boulder, it is important to acknowledge the flaws in this grading system. Green comes in many different forms, and most of those forms weren’t even asked about in the report card survey.
The survey conducted to create the report card did not include information about research, service or academics because most of the colleges that participated were not land-grant institutions that are built on these foundations. While CSU is making many efforts to improve campus sustainability, it is a land grant institution with an enormous campus, and its most successful green initiatives occur in the research, service and academic areas.
For example, any student that has attended Pingree Park would argue that some of the world’s leading environmental stewards are born at the base of Comanche Peak with guidance from CSU professors. In fact, we are constantly reminded that only four universities in the country have and still use a facility like Pingree Park where students have gained hands-on experience managing our natural resources since 1917.
If exploring what the Warner College of Natural Resources has to offer isn’t your thing, then be like me and join the Coalition for Campus Sustainability (CCS). As president this year, I am responsible for getting inspired students to be Green Warriors. This year we coordinated the award-winning Homecoming Novelty Float.
I could remind you that CSU has placed in the top 10 in RecycleMania every year, and we always beat CU-Boulder. And this year’s Green Warrior Campaign will include a residence hall energy competition to encourage energy conservation in our buildings. Meanwhile, the Green is Gold Campaign has been challenging faculty and staff to implement green practices on campus in order to win sustainability grants and even a new office bicycle.
Again, if students are so ready to judge CSU’s efforts, then I suggest they get engaged and understand what is really going on. Eat some locally grown food at the Aspen Grille or take an energy tour of campus to see what really goes into a LEED certified building. Check out the thermal plant near the Academic Village and see what the solar panels and variable frequency drivers are doing to reduce energy usage. Learn about the greywater project happening in Aspen Hall where engineers are researching water treatment and re-use for our residence halls.
And I’m pretty sure that students and professors at the Energy and Engines Laboratory will argue when you tell them their EnviroFit project deserves a C+. Maybe a visit to the lab is needed for those who think CSU is just greenwashing everybody.
Maybe CSU jumped the gun a bit when it called itself “The Green University,” by keeping its green initiatives behind closed doors. But I’m showing you what’s up and how you can get engaged. Maybe some of you feel that you haven’t been walking the walk when it comes to being green.
Perhaps you’re just a part of the university that isn’t green yet. Nobody can receive an A+ on their Green Report Card, but CSU can always strive to improve its commitment to sustainability. So, instead of printing newspapers full of criticism, let’s join forces and create one lean, green, environment-saving machine.
Go to green.colostate.edu or SoGES.colostate.edu to learn about The Green University.
Alysse Brice is a sustainability intern for CSU’s Housing and Dining Services. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.