Colorado College in Colorado Springs said Wednesday that it is the first university in the Rocky Mountain region to achieve carbon neutrality, according to The Denver Post.
The college has worked for more than a decade toward zero net emissions and has reduced them by 75 percent.
“There was some resistance at the time from the leadership of the college who were concerned about the ability of the college to make that commitment,” David Amster-Olszewski, founder of the Sunshare Community Solar company, told the Post. “It’s really something to think about the reasonable questions and concerns people had 10 years ago about the college committing to carbon neutrality and see this goal realized now.
"It says something about the value of taking a leap of faith and setting up a bold goal that nobody thinks you can hit and finding a way to hit it," he added.
Initiatives to meet the college’s goal included using locally produced solar energy for 100 percent of its electricity, installing an underground geothermal energy project for its Tutt Library and building solar installations on and off campus.
To balance out remaining emissions from sources such as fleet vehicles and wastewater, the college invested an undisclosed amount on carbon offsets and has saved more than $6 million from sustainability projects thus far, sustainability director Ian Johnson told the newspaper.
“The economic case is there,” he said. “We’re saving money.”
More than 400 other campuses are participating in similar projects, and seven other schools nationwide have achieved carbon neutrality, according to Tim Carter, president of Second Nature, a nonprofit organization working for climate action at higher education institutions.
“Higher education is one of the key sectors in society that actually has a social mission,” he said. “They’re largely nonprofit, and they are, in some ways because of that, obligated to tackle some of the grand challenges that face society. Climate is one of the biggest challenges we face.”