COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado College faculty and students have reached their 2020 goal of a 100% carbon neutral campus.
"There was a road map we had drawn up, but it was definitely an aspirational stretch goal,” said Office of Sustainability Director Ian Johnson. “It required us to really keep it in focus." It is a goal they have been working toward since 2009."
Students petitioned school leaders to take on the challenge of making the school carbon neutral. Since then students have been involved in the process.
Paige Shetty is a senior at Colorado College. A climate change course her sophomore year sparked interest in the environment. She believes a higher ed campus is the right place to initiate environmental change.
"Kind of experiment with and research different options for achieving more sustainable solutions,” Shetty said.
After graduation she wants to work in the field of environmental sustainability.
Achieving a carbon neutral campus requires either reducing greenhouse emissions or off-setting them with carbon credits. Carbon credits come from investing in things that counter or reduce emissions.
At Colorado College 75% of the 100% achievement comes from on-campus reductions.
"It's a really impressive drop,” Johnson said. “It's larger than almost any other institution out there. There's one other institution that we're on par with, but it's a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."
Making it to 100% carbon neutral required considering every possible way to reduce emissions. There is investment in solar panels, retrofitting old buildings so they are ore energy efficient and new structures are built to what is known as “net zero” standards.
Behaviors are also a factor. Like figuring out how to counter emissions from vehicles or airplanes that are necessary for school functions.
To discourage waste and encourage people on campus to bring reusable containers there is an extra cost at the campus coffee shop for disposable cups. There are also campaigns to encourage conscious energy saving efforts.
“Students that are getting carbon certified green rooms,” Shetty said, “Turning off light bulbs, making sure when they leave classes things are unplugged and they're not using energy while they're away."
Large and small contributions all adding up to a school that can now say it is 100% carbon neutral.