Apr 272011
Authors: Erin Udell

After seven days of celebrating sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives during Earth Week, CSU was once again named one of the Princeton Review’s 311 Green Colleges — earning the highest green rating among Colorado’s public universities.

The Princeton Review has been conducting “Green Ratings” for the past three years, grading colleges on their environmentally related policies and publishing the results in its annual report, “The Best Colleges.”

“We’re working every year to make our buildings more efficient,” said Carol Dollard, an energy engineer for the CSU Facilities Department, adding that CSU has been able to hold its utility bill at the same dollar amount for the past three years by continuing to make small, energy efficient changes over the years.

“We’re pretty proud of that,” she said.

According to the Princeton Review’s green college guidebook, CSU was rated among the best green universities because of its LEED certifications, satellite-collected weather forecasting data and the amount of green power made available to students.

CSU is also home to one of the largest university solar plants in the nation, as well as its very own commercial-sized composter, which was debuted on the Foothills Campus on Thursday, April 21 during CSU’s Earth Week celebration.

“With the composting, what we’re doing is taking the food waste from the (dining hall) kitchens and taking it out to the composter where we mix it with manure waste,” said Sheela Backen, the integrated solid waste program manager for CSU, adding that by having its own composter, the university will save money by not having to send the waste to a Denver-based composting business.

According to Backen, CSU also remains at the top of green universities in Colorado because of its recycling methods.

“Our recycling rate is around 53 percent,” Backen said. “Basically, what we do is try to make it as easy as possible to recycle by making everything single stream and having more recycling bins around campus.”

Keeping CSU on the forefront of eco-friendly universities means constant updates and changes to buildings and other items on campus.

“There’s always new stuff,” Dollard said. “In terms of new, alternative energy we’re investigating things all the time, but it’s hard to say what the next thing is going to be.”

“Right now we’re looking at additional light retrofits. We’re sort of just chipping away at the traditional efficiency stuff because it has always had a really good payback and that helps the university keep the utility bill from going through the roof,” Dollard added.

According to CSU Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda, keeping CSU among the best green colleges expands past the efforts of facilities and into a growing focus on environmental curriculum.

“Those (the solar plant and the composter) are two kind of large examples of the university’s commitment to sustainability,” Miranda said. “I’d also point to the new minor that’s available from our school of environmental sustainability, though — a more curricular initiative.”

“It was very nice to be recognized for the efforts we’re making here at CSU,” Miranda added.

Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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