Campus & Community

University to host Mayor Hancock’s Sustainable Denver Summit Dec. 3

As global leaders gather in Paris for the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, the University of Denver is preparing to host Mayor Michael Hancock’s inaugural Sustainable Denver Summit on Dec. 3. The summit seeks to mobilize local leaders to partner with the City and County of Denver in achieving the 2020 Sustainability Goals set forth in 2013.

Denver’s 2020 plan includes such objectives as reducing greenhouse gas emissions; requiring 25 percent locally sourced food in the government’s supply chain; cleaning up waterways; and reducing waste to the city’s landfill by 20 percent.

The 2015 Sustainable Denver Summit, modeled after the Clinton Global Initiative, will convene the mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the University of Denver, and businesses, advocacy groups and NGOs from across the county to produce commitments aimed at closing the gap between Denver’s current sustainability benchmark, and what will be needed to realize the 2020 goals.

“We are excited that DU is the host location of the first ever Sustainable Denver Summit,” says Rebecca Powell, co-chair of the University’s Sustainability Council which, along with DU’s Center for Sustainability, is sponsoring 20 DU representatives at the summit—including faculty, students and staff whose campus sustainability efforts overlap with Denver’s 2020 goals.

Members of the DU Sustainability Council taking part in the summit include undergraduates Jaser Alsharhan — leader of the DU Environmental Team — and Andrew Smith, staff member in DU’s Center for Sustainability. They will join energy engineer Tom McGee; Susan Daggett, director of DU’s Rocky Mountain Land Institute; and Cara DiEnno, associate director of the University’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, in consulting with the summit’s four working groups: energy, water, materials and mobility.

The Sustainability Council at the University of Denver is an active forum for students, faculty and staff to collaborate across disciplines, while generating new ideas and assisting the University in hitting its sustainability goals. According to Powell, DU already has reduced its carbon footprint by 27 percent over a 2006 baseline. The decrease in carbon emissions was achieved five years ahead of a 2020 target date embedded in DU’s Sustainability Plan, which commits the University to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“DU can serve as a proving ground for sustainability efforts, alongside the city,” says University of Denver Sustainability Coordinator Chad King. “DU continues to be an incubator that creates ideas, technology and behavioral change. Our students will go on to leadership roles in this community, which will accelerate change toward a more sustainable future.”

The objective of the 2015 summit, according to the mayor’s Office of Sustainability, is to create and announce a series of “Commitments to Action.” Summit participants will identify action items for their organizations, focusing on renewable energy, greenhouse gas reduction, water quality and climate change resilience. The implementation of these commitments is intended to create improvements throughout the City and County of Denver.

While Denver has been a local and national leader in addressing climate change — former Mayor John Hickenlooper signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, and Mayor Hancock continues to champion the 2020 Plan — the inaugural Sustainable Denver Summit demonstrates a renewed desire for Colorado government officials, businesses, universities, nonprofits and citizens to forge additional partnerships in the sustainability movement — both locally and globally.

“The Sustainable Denver Summit will bring together thought leaders to address one of the most vexing challenges of our time: sustainability,” says Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “I applaud Mayor Hancock and the City and County of Denver for establishing sustainability goals and committing to address this challenge head on, protecting our beautiful region — and the planet — for future generations. At its best, a university is a convener, and we are pleased to bring together local leaders and our own on-campus experts to help Denver realize its goals.”


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