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Center for Sustainability

Center for Sustainability

Sustainable Travel

A Guide for Sustainable Travel

What is the University of Denver's commitment to sustainable travel?

At the University of Denver, we are committed to incorporating sustainability in every facet of university planning. We are committed to being a private university dedicated to the public good and we believe that our study abroad programs should reflect this belief. As a consequence, we are committed to making our programs as just and sustainable as we possibly can. In 2007, DU became one of many institutions across the U.S. to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). In response to the Divest DU campaign and the realities of climate change, the University of Denver is responding with major investments in sustainability including off-setting all university travel.

What is sustainable travel?

Carbon emissions related to the flights taken by students studying abroad and other university travel account for roughly 15% of DU's carbon footprint. While acknowledging that travel abroad produces a tremendous quantity of greenhouse gases, rather than arguing that students should be taking fewer flights, we are instead advocating for integrating sustainability into the study abroad experience and for offsetting the carbon created by those flights by removing carbon from the atmosphere elsewhere.

We propose using funds from the opt in carbon offset funds, as well as investment into human capital to develop these new initiatives, to create far ranging impacts on the DU community beyond simply lessening the University of Denver's carbon foot print. We are proposing a series of initiatives that can provide opportunities for applied student learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, increased corporate and community engagement, as well as lessening DU's carbon footprint.

For undergraduate study abroad students, we have developed the Tree Project. For all other university travel we are encouraging the purchase of carbon offsets.

What is the Tree Project?

Undergraduate study abroad students can opt-in to an offset program by donating $15 to an offset fund when they sign up for their study abroad trip. This money goes towards a new program managed by the Center for Sustainability to plant 10,000 new trees on and around the DU campus and neighborhoods in the "DU District." Increasing canopy cover in urban areas has many benefits that include reduced atmospheric carbon dioxide, reduced crime rates, increased air quality, and reduced heat island effects. DU has begun to measure the impacts on CO2 sequestration, heat-island effects, air quality, and other impacts of existing tree cover using iTree Canopy.

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is a process designed to alleviate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions that result from the use of fossil fuels by reducing emissions from another source. Through this process, our students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions resulting from their travel by making tax-deductible charitable contributions to independently reviewed and certified environmental projects focused on forest conservation, renewable energy and avoiding deforestation.

How do you calculate the CO2 emissions?

The calculations we use are based on flight calculators that are based on a comprehensive carbon footprint carbon calculator.
Important to note, this only assigns the emissions associated with individual passenger travel and does not include other emissions generated by cargo transport, crew travel, etc. Calculations represent the CO2 emitted during fuel combustion and do not account for upstream CO2 emissions from fuel production, refinement and transportation by oil companies.