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DU achieves Gold Award for sustainability program

National award recognizes ongoing drive to achieve climate neutrality

DENVER— The University of Denver has received the Gold Award for its ongoing sustainability efforts from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The University is among just 13 schools nationwide to achieve Gold recognition.

AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Ratings System (STARS) awards points in three main areas: education and research, operations, and planning and innovation. STARS is the only system of its kind that involves public reporting of comprehensive information related to an institution’s sustainability performance. STARS provides institutions with a standardized assessment tool that allows evaluation of the progress toward sustainability, covering 139 environmental, economic, and social indicators.

The University of Denver (DU) has been building on its commitment to sustainability since 2007 when Chancellor Robert Coombe signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, leading to the establishment of the DU Sustainability Committee, comprised of students, administrators, faculty and staff. The Council developed a sustainability plan and a commitment for DU to become climate neutral by 2050.

“The University is delighted to receive the recognition of a STARS Gold rating. It is the result of months of diligent data collection and review, and it is a powerful validation of our continuing efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,” says Chancellor Robert Coombe. “We know there is much work ahead. We are incorporating sustainability in our educational program at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and we continue to monitor and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reduce waste. We have a long-term commitment to achieving our environmental, economic and social sustainability goals.”

Social sustainability is a key component to the STARS program, emphasizing not just environmental sustainability but also social efforts that ensure economic and social equity so that everyone has the ability to become involved in a global process.

DU Sturm College of Law Associate Dean Fred Cheever is a founding member of the DU Sustainability Council and its current chair. He says the Gold Award is the result of a collaborative effort.

“STARS is the most comprehensive assessment of university sustainability efforts developed so far. It deals with every aspect of how we practice and teach sustainability,” Cheever says. “DUs gold rating is a testament to the work of literally hundreds of members of the DU community who have invested their time and effort to help us all live and teach our best values.”

Sustainability initiatives on campus have included the campus-wide implementation of single-stream recycling, food composting in residence halls, lighting retrofits, a vehicle fleet running on compressed natural gas, bike sharing, an undergraduate minor in sustainability studies, the addition of “green” parking spaces that reward drivers of cleaner running vehicles, and the purchase of carbon offsets and energy derived from wind turbines and other sustainable sources.

DU received points for innovative social sustainability programs including Daniels College of Business initiatives in microfinancing and the construction of a net-zero energy house, a home that draws no net energy off the power grid.


The University of Denver is committed to improving the human condition and engaging students and faculty in tackling the major issues of our day. DU ranks among the top 100 national universities in the U.S. For additional information, go to

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities working to create a sustainable future, with a mission to help higher education lead the sustainability transformation. Some 280 colleges and universities across the country have submitted or are working on STARS reports.

Contact: Chase Squires
Phone: (303) 871-2660


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