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Center for Sustainability

Center for Sustainability

Our Commitment

University of Denver Sustainability Commitment

The University of Denver recognizes that one of the great challenges of our time is to make the decisions and investments – of both effort and money – that will simultaneously advance economic vitality, ecological integrity, and social justice. Economic vitality, environmental integrity, and social justice are deeply connected in both the short term and the long term. This triple challenge and deep connection are embodied in the concept of sustainability.

Recognizing sustainability as a core University value, we commit to exercising leadership in our community and throughout society by providing the knowledge, research, and curriculum to produce informed graduates who are able to create a positive, just, and sustainable future.

We will fully embrace sustainability and address climate change in our operations by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our approach to managing the built environment, energy, water, dining, purchasing, policies, and transportation operations.

By integrating sustainability into the curriculum, research, co-curricular experience, and campus operations, we will better serve our students and meet their social mandate to help create a vital, ethical, and prosperous civil society.

We believe that our commitment to sustainability requires us to work with community partners in the public and private sector to ensure a thriving local economy, a sustainable urban environment, and an equitable human community.

We reaffirm our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, as just one part of a holistic approach to becoming a sustainable University.

University of Denver Sustainability Principles

As a campus, we will adopt ways to adhere to the following principles through policies, commitments, standard practices, and everyday actions to realize our vision of incorporating sustainability into our research, teaching, operations, and campus life.

Inclusion and Interdependence
• Increase the University's role as an anchor institution who actively contributes to a thriving local economy.
• Build a more inclusive and cooperative community and enhance the One DU concept.
• Frame our operational and educational missions to emphasize systems thinking and the connections among our actions, natural systems, and ecological services.
• Emphasize the understanding that a healthy economy and thriving environment is impossible without creating a just society.

Advancement of Application
• Emphasize and enhance existing and new research and teaching on sustainability and systems thinking.
• Increase interdisciplinary approaches in addressing sustainability in the curriculum.
• Utilize campus as a "living laboratory" for innovative applied research and teaching in operations.
• Provide clear methods for transferring innovation, research, and operational best practices to the broader community.
• Provide clear pipelines for classroom innovations to become part of operational practice.

Resiliency and Well-being
• Improve human and ecosystem health and well-being.

Innovation and Identity
• Engage innovative ideas to eliminate our carbon footprint.
• Develop a distinct identity by integrating sustainability with our other priorities.
• Market our sustainability efforts to attract and retain excellent students, faculty, and staff.

Core Value and Accountability
• Frame sustainability as a core value at the University of Denver.
• Improve energy, water, labor, and other efficiencies in operational practices.
• Improve our sustainability metrics and implement clear modes and protocols for sustainability reporting.

Approved June 9, 2017 by Chancellor Rebecca Chopp

The University of Denver is committed to incorporating sustainability in every facet of university planning. Below are a few examples of this commitment. 

DU-Impact 2025

As stated in the DU-Impact 2025 strategic plan, DU will expand its focus on helping to create a just and sustainable future. This includes:

  • Creating and strengthening interdisciplinary connections and coursework
  • Partnering with key external entities such as RTD and Great Outdoors Colorado
  • Supporting sustainable urban food initiatives including within campus dining establishments
  • Continuing to meet green building and carbon footprint reduction goals
  • By explicitly integrating a commitment to a just and sustainable future into all aspects of University operations – from curriculum to athletics to facilities to recruiting – DU can become a true leader, for other universities, for the regional community, and for communities around the world, embodying our mission of a great private university dedicated to the public good. Read more about the Just and Sustainable future initiative here.

In 2007, DU became one of many institutions across the U.S. to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). By signing the Presidents' Climate Commitment, each University president or Chancellor agreed to:

  • Initiate the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.
  • Within two years of signing this document, develop an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral, which will include:
  • A target date for achieving climate neutrality as soon as possible.
  • Interim targets for goals and actions that will lead to climate neutrality
  • Actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students.
  • Actions to expand research or other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality.
  • Mechanisms for tracking progress on goals and actions.

How does the University of Denver aim to create a just and sustainable future for DU? Check out some of our plans below.

  • Sustainability Plan 2014-2017 here
  • Sustainability Plan 2008-2009 here
  • The Land Use plan is a significant component to reinforce the integration and foster the development of sustainability within the broader context of the campus. Read more here.