DU Strengthens Commitment to Sustainability
Board of Trustees supports climate-change resolution
The University of Denver Board of Trustees has endorsed a resolution encouraging new actions and backing continued efforts at embracing sustainability and addressing climate change on campus. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be the focus of efforts to manage the built environment, energy and water usage, and dining and transportation operations.
"In adopting this resolution, the University reaffirms its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, an important objective outlined in the institution’s strategic plan, DU IMPACT 2025," says board-chair Doug Scrivner. “This resolution builds upon the key principles the Board committed to adopting in January, in an effort to address issues of climate change and fostering a sustainable future.”
“This resolution shows a renewed, high-level commitment to taking direct steps as a campus for local action that carries a global impact in terms of sustainability and climate change, while engaging and educating the campus and community,” says Chad King, DU’s sustainability director.
In pursuit of carbon neutrality, the University has established tangible goals and milestones. For example, DU is called on to reduce carbon emissions by 24 percent by 2020. Since 2006, DU’s carbon footprint has decreased by 29 percent, an achievement that has come even in the face of growth in the campus population and buildings. Much of the emissions decrease can be attributed to energy-efficiency efforts.
The University also aims to increase its national ranking for university sustainability. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has developed the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) to guide universities toward creating holistic and effective sustainability programs. DU’s goal is to become AASHE STARS Gold by 2020 and STARS Platinum by 2025.
“We have set a series of goals we feel are aspirational, yet achievable, to guide us towards excellence in sustainable practices,” King says.
Achieving these goals will require the Sustainability Council and Student Sustainability Board to seek ideas for innovation from students, faculty and staff. An operational working group and an executive council will review ideas, conduct feasibility planning and determine implementation. The Center for Sustainability will then coordinate and manage implementation of all sustainability efforts.
“With a new operating structure for sustainability efforts on campus, we are better suited for clear communication, goal setting and action across units,” King says. “This structure will better utilize the vast, valuable resources found in the collective expertise of students, staff and faculty. Together we will collectively move towards becoming a sustainable institution, and a model for the city and region.