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Nineteen: Getting DU to carbon neutral

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Jeremy Haefner

Letter  •

Dear DU Community Members,

The University of Denver has accelerated its original timeline and pledged to be a carbon neutral institution by 2030. It’s a bold goal, but we are not starting from square one. We will build on the groundwork laid by our Center for Sustainability, the incredible energy and ideas of our students, the powerful research of our faculty and the countless community members who have been putting in the work for years.

Since we joined the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 28% through:

  • Installing solar panels on 18 rooftops, meeting approximately 8% of our electrical needs
  • Improving energy efficiency through lighting and other updates
  • Providing commuting options, including EcoPass and the campus shuttle
  • Excel Energy’s efforts to source their electricity from renewable resources
  • Intentional design in our new buildings, including the LEED Platinum and net-neutral Burwell Center for Career Achievement
Sustainability at DU

The climate crisis is a global issue that impacts us all—but most especially our students whose futures will be shaped by the choices we make today.

As an institution committed to making a difference, it is our responsibility to do all we can to ensure that our planet, our home, is a healthy place in which to live. To accomplish this, we are restructuring our approach and reassigning resources so experts in sustainability can lead the charge toward not only carbon neutrality but also a plastics-free and zero-waste University of Denver.



University Sustainability Officer


We will shortly begin a search for a University Sustainability Officer. This new and elevated position will give our lead sustainability expert increased authority to align the University with our goals.

Reporting directly to me, the University Sustainability Officer (USO) will lead and oversee DU’s overall sustainability efforts, including our carbon neutrality goals, plastics-free campus pledge and other academic and administrative goals. The USO will also foster a culture of sustainability—building energy and momentum across the University so individuals, teams, units and schools can see their own role in this important and time-sensitive work.

Faculty Director of

the Center for Sustainability

Building on the work of our prior sustainability director, the Faculty Director will advance the Center for Sustainability’s vision to realize the seamless integration of student learning, campus sustainability practices, and research for just sustainability. As a scholar and campus leader, the Faculty Director will champion new ways to utilize campus as a living laboratory for curricular and research projects that connect campus sustainability practices to faculty and student discovery and university goals.

Reimagined Sustainability Leadership Role

 in Facilities


Working in the Department of Facilities Management and Planning, this individual will be primarily tasked with implementing the drive to carbon neutrality by reviewing the myriad ways DU uses and sources energy and boldly and creatively seeks cleaner, carbon neutral alternatives.


University Sustainability Council


Comprised of administrators, faculty, students and staff, this council will help identify, develop, implement and promote collaborative sustainability strategies. This council is where the community can get directly involved in the work, and it will be chaired by the University Sustainability Officer.

The USO, faculty director and the sustainability leader in facilities will work closely together, aided by the council, to help the University of Denver become carbon neutral by 2030, plastic-free and zero-waste. Through their efforts—and by the efforts of the entire DU community—we will keep our commitment and do our part to create a truly sustainable environment at DU and secure the future tomorrow’s generations deserve.



Jeremy Haefner