Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU seeks carbon neutrality by 2050

More than a year in the making, the University of Denver’s plan for achieving carbon neutrality has been approved and the goal is set.

Under the plan, by the year 2050, DU will achieve climate neutrality. The plan is one of the promises the University made in 2007 when Chancellor Robert Coombe signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The commitment defines climate neutrality as “having no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to be achieved by minimizing GHG emissions as much as possible, and using carbon offsets or other measures to mitigate the remaining emissions.”

DU’s plan was crafted by the Sustainability Council, a collaborative body made up of students, faculty and staff and led by Fred Cheever, outgoing chairman and Lyndsay Agans, lead writer and incoming chair. The 93-page document lays the groundwork for what will be an ongoing effort to reduce carbon emissions, achieve new energy efficiencies and change the way the University uses energy.

The proposal focuses on conservation, reduced consumption, and appropriate alternative energy sources.

After discussions with the Board of Trustees June 5, Coombe accepted the plan.

“The Sustainability Plan was accepted and approved by Chancellor Coombe on behalf of the Board of Trustees, and the University of Denver is moving ahead with its plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” Provost Gregg Kvistad announced on June 8.

DU already has taken steps toward its goal, including producing a full inventory of the University’s greenhouse gas emissions and adding an energy engineer to look for ways DU can be more sustainable. In the past year, DU has substantially boosted its recycling campaign, added vehicles that run on cleaner-burning compressed natural gas and kicked off a bicycle-sharing program.

“The University of Denver community is strongly committed to the pursuit of excellence by including and integrating environmental values, environmental issues and sustainable practices into every aspect of its endeavors,” the plan states. “To be a leader in this national effort, DU must meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Our efforts will be founded in energy conservation and efficiency.”

The plan calls for everything from generating some of the University’s own power to including a curriculum in sustainability so that future generations will continue the fight for carbon neutrality.

“The sustainability plan gives DU a path to sustainability through a series of wise, cost-effective measures,” Cheever says. “It will shape the University in profound and positive ways in the decades to come.”

Read the full plan online.

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