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In 2014 the Office of Sustainability at Colorado College released its first State of Sustainability Report. This report followed the first Sustainability Assessment, Tracking and Rating System report created in 2014 and was intended to condense and disseminate the full STARS report. The State of Sustainability Report provided a benchmark for the college’s performance across broad sustainability recommending specific strategies for a holistic systems approach to the integration of educational, engagement, operational, and planning outcomes.

Many of those recommendations have been realized in the two years since the benchmark report through the impressive efforts of the Campus Sustainability Council, Facilities Services, individual academic departments, student efforts and persistence, support from the administration and the Board of Trustees, and countless individuals who are dedicated to making Colorado College a model for sustainability at all levels. As a result, Colorado College moved from a STARS® Silver status in 2014 to Gold in 2015 and again in 2016.

This report outlines where priority actions outlined in the 2014 and 2015 sustainability reports have led to substantial improvements and, in some cases, where the college has regressed substantially in its sustainability performance. For the purposes of this update, substantial change in performance is defined as a change of more than 0.5 points in the STARS® weighted scoring system in any one category compared to 2015.

This document is meant to be accessible to all interested in sustainability and the future of Colorado College. It provides recommendations to the Campus Sustainability Council while providing information to college and local community members regarding the sustainability efforts that are ongoing at Colorado College as detailed by the AASHE STARS report. This year, the CSC created a sustainability action plan to provide sustainability goals, responsibilities, anticipated costs, and responsible parties for the next few years. The action plan was created to increase the college’s STARS score and overall sustainability. This document uses the college’s 2016 STARS scoring and incorporates current and future efforts outlined in the sustainability action plan.

Long-term Sustainability Goals

The overarching goals guiding all sustainability efforts in the next few years have been created by the Steering Committee of Campus Sustainability Council. These goals inform every initiative regarding sustainability.

Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2020 as previously committed to in the Campus Climate Commitment (Formerly the ACUPCC). The Steering Committee recommends the following schedule, with the judicial use of carbon offsets in the interim:

  • Scope 1 neutrality by 2020
  • Scope 2 neutrality by 2025
    • 100% energy self sufficient
  • Scope 3 neutrality by 2030
    • All offsets locally based or owned by CC

Reach STARS Platinum by 2020

  • Simultaneously increase Sierra Cool Schools Ranking

Increase Sustainability Funding to $1 Million per year by 2019

  • Increase funding by $250,000 annually through 2019
  • Quantify savings from sustainability projects and redirect towards this increased funding

STARS® Framework

The Colorado College 2016 State of Sustainability Report, in a similar approach to the 2015 report, is organized around the STARS® organizational model. Individual college goals and efforts, such as efficiency upgrades, community engagement, and carbon neutrality, are captured in this robust metric.

CC’s 2016 performance across sustainability indicators in the STARS® outline is as follows: (green indicates a significant increase over 2015; red indicates a significant decrease since 2015; significant is defined as a change of more than 0.5 points in the STARS® weighted scoring system).

Curriculum 24.82/37.00
Research 10.72/18.00
Campus Engagement 15.79/20.00
Public Engagement 13.15/16.00
Air and Climate 6.31/11.00
Buildings 3.57/8.00
Dining Services 2.31/7.00
Energy 4.20/10.00
Grounds 3.23/4.00
Purchasing 3.85/6.00
Transportation 3.80/7.00
Waste 4.51/10.00
Water 5.35/7.00
Coordination, Planning, and Governance 8.00/8.00
Diversity and Affordability 9.08/10.00
Health, Well-being, and Work 4.94/7.00
Investment 0.63/7.00
Innovation 4.00/4.00
Total Score 68.72



Curriculum refers to formal education programs and courses that address sustainability. The primary function of Colorado College as an institution of higher education is to educate students. CC is uniquely positioned to prepare students to understand and address sustainability challenges as it trains and educates future leaders, scholars, workers, and professionals. In offering courses that cover sustainability issues, Colorado College has helped to equip its students to lead society to a sustainable future.

CC improved in the Curriculum category of STARS in 2016. CC improved specifically in the Academic Courses category and the Learning Outcomes category. The percentage of sustainability courses among total courses increased, as did the number of courses and departments with adopted sustainability learning outcomes. The improvement in both categories is largely due to the Sustainability Across the Curriculum workshop, which results in the creation of courses with adopted sustainability learning outcomes. 

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding sustainability in the curriculum:

  1. The Office of Sustainability has been working on creating a certificate of sustainability for students at CC. Staff in the office hope the certificate is piloted in Fall 2017. The Academic subcommittee of CSC has outlined goals to continue to support the process of creating the certificate in the future.
  2. Through the Office of Sustainability, the college has also defined sustainability learning outcomes, which are critical in identifying courses with sustainability content and in developing a certificate in sustainability. Information about the learning objectives and an application for courses to be considered for the sustainability designation is available at
  3. The Sustainability Across the Curriculum Workshop was created in 2014. This workshop is for faculty interested in integrating sustainability into the curriculum in every department in order to broaden the academic scope of sustainability at CC. Some example classes created in the workshop include Introduction to Geo-design, Calculus 1, Sustainable Development, History of Gender and Sexuality in South Asia, and Community Forestry. The workshop will continue to be offered after Block 8 for the next few years with the intent to expand the number of courses certified as sustainability-focused or sustainability-related. The workshop also brings together faculty to participate in the conference and then serve as mentors in the future.


The Research subcategory focuses on research, scholarly, and creative activities that are related to or focused on sustainability. CC is primarily a teaching institution, but a number of faculty are engaged in sustainability research. By researching sustainability issues and refining theories and concepts, Colorado College can continue to help the world understand sustainability challenges and develop new technologies, strategies, and approaches to address those challenges.

CC saw little change in the Research subcategory of STARS. Currently initiatives are underway to promote sustainability research at CC, but change in access and amount of research did not happen this year.

Below is the primary initiative regarding research:

  1. The sustainability action plan outlines a plan to create a database for faculty and student research. The Academic Subcommittee of the CSC will create a site that lists research, papers, and publications by CC students and faculty specific to sustainability by utilizing the Office of Communications, ITS, and library staff.


Campus Engagement

The Campus Engagement subcategory recognizes the importance of providing students with sustainability learning experiences outside the formal curriculum. Engaging in sustainability issues through co-curricular activities allows students to deepen and apply their understandings of sustainability principles. College-sponsored co-curricular sustainability offerings help integrate sustainability into the campus culture and set a positive tone for Colorado College. In addition, this subcategory recognizes the importance of support for faculty and staff engagement, training, and development programs in sustainability. Faculty and staff members’ daily decisions impact Colorado College’s sustainability performance. Equipping faculty and staff with the tools, knowledge, and motivation to adopt behavior changes that promote sustainability is an essential activity of a sustainable campus.

CC saw a decline in campus engagement since the 2015 year. This decline is somewhat misleading, as it is mostly due to a reporting error in 2015. The Employee Educators Program section was modified this year to more accurately describe the number of employees benefitting from the only employee educators program, the Sustainability Across the Curriculum workshop. Those eligible for the program must be faculty rather than all staff and as a result the program only targets a percentage of employees at CC. The college actually saw improvement in the Students Educators Section with the addition of the Office of Sustainability volunteer program.

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding campus engagement:

  1. A Sense of Place Living Learning Community has been created for Fall 2016. This LLC is located in Mathias and is open for students to apply who are interested in connecting to the history, ecology, geology, and environmental issues in Colorado Springs and the west.
  2. The OoS and CSC have voted to create a paraprofessional position in the OoS for the 2016-2017 school year. This person will facilitate and coordinate interns and volunteers in the OoS and continued sustainability efforts. The CSC has dedicated funding for this position in the coming year.
  3. The TREE Semester in Environmental Education began in the fall of 2015. The program involves a partnership between Colorado College and Catamount Center, an environmental nonprofit organization that operates the Catamount Mountain Campus in Woodland Park. Undergraduate participants teach about 100 hours of environmental education over the course of the semester in the outdoors and in K-12 classrooms. The program will continue in the 2016-2017 school year.
  4. The CSC is looking at including sustainability into all employee job descriptions in order to further institutionalize sustainability efforts across the entire campus. The CSC will continue this effort in the coming year.

Public Engagement

The Public Engagement category recognizes efforts that give back to our community through community service, engagement, and partnerships. Volunteerism and the sense of compassion that community service helps develop are fundamental to achieving sustainability. From tutoring children to removing invasive species to volunteering in the community, students, faculty, and staff can make tangible contributions that address sustainability challenges through community service. Community engagement can help students develop leadership skills while deepening their understanding of practical, real-world problems. Colorado College can contribute to our campus community by harnessing our financial and academic resources to address community needs. In addition, we can contribute to sustainability broadly through inter-campus collaboration, engagement with external networks and organizations, and public policy advocacy.

CC increased its score for Public Engagement in 2016 by increasing the number of volunteers engaged in community service by roughly 700. The total hours of community service completed stayed roughly the same. The reason for the increase in students engaged in service may be more comprehensive and accurate reporting by the Collaborative for Community Engagement as this department develops more metrics to accurately log hours.

 Below are the top initiatives at work regarding public engagement:

  1. One goal put forth by the CSC is to host events through the CSC and OoS that address various aspects of sustainability. The OoS is looking into creating an intern position dedicated to event planning.
  2. The Collaborative for Community Engagement is in the process of creating a database focused on bringing together all community engagement efforts on campus. The database will also be able to log and track community service hours, which is integral for the future of STARS reporting.
  3. The Steering Committee of Campus Sustainability Council has put forth a plan to pursue a k-12 local school solar project. This project will entail CC providing solar arrays and reduced cost energy to local public schools while maintaining the renewable energy credits. The steps to complete this plan include: Engage school districts; Identify appropriate building/project; Develop legal framework for ownership of environmental benefits and project payback; Design and install project; and Communicate innovative strategy to build on success. The CSC will continue to pursue this project in the coming year.


Air and Climate

The Air and Climate subcategory pertains to CC’s measurement of and action to reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions. In 2009 Colorado College signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, outlining its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2020. Since 2006, the college has recorded and published yearly inventories of greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air-Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator™. The inventory covers scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

The college improved its score in Air and Climate in 2016. Outdoor Air Quality remained unchanged, thus Greenhouse Gas Emissions is where CC gained points. These points are due to a decrease in some Scope 1 emissions, an increase in Third-Party Verified Carbon Offsets, and a decrease in Waste Generated in Operations.

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding air and climate:

  1. The college continues to pursue its goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. The college and CSC are continuously working on innovative strategies to meet this goal. For example, the k-12 solar project mentioned in Public Engagement is one way to address carbon neutrality and engage with the local community.
  2. CSC has set a goal to investigate the carbon footprint of field sciences with the ultimate goal of offsetting these emissions.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory


The buildings subcategory pertains to steps that Colorado College is taking to improve the sustainability performance of its buildings. Buildings are one of the largest users of energy and the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on campus. They also use significant amounts of potable water. By designing, constructing, and maintaining buildings in ways that provide a safe and healthy indoor environment for inhabitants while simultaneously mitigating the building’s impact on the outdoor environment, Colorado College can address the sustainability of its buildings.

The college improved its score in Buildings largely through the Building Operations and Maintenance category. CC increased its “floor area of building space that is maintained in accordance with formally adopted sustainable building operations and maintenance guidelines or policies (but NOT certified).” This also requires the inclusion of the sustainable building operations and maintenance guidelines.

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding buildings:

  1. CSC has set a goal to make Olin Hall's replacement/renovation a highly energy efficient laboratory building. The implications of this goal are: It is a significant step closer to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2020; It will boost STARS ratings in the Buildings and Operations category and
distinguish us from other institutions; It will result in reductions in energy use which lead to ecological sustainability by limiting carbon emissions and increased economic savings; It will provide the opportunity for education about sustainability and environmental issues.
  2. The CSC has been very involved in advocating for a net zero library design. This library design is like no other in the country and will greatly contribute to CC’s carbon neutrality goal of 2020.
  3. CSC is working on a green office certification program. This will encourage responsible behaviors and habits among faculty and staff at the college.

Dining Services

Rastall Cafe

Rastall Cafe

The Dining Services subcategory pertains to efforts at Colorado College to help build a sustainable food system. Modern industrial food production often has deleterious environmental impacts. Pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture can contaminate ground and surface water, which has potentially dangerous impacts on wildlife and human health. Furthermore, the often long-distance transportation of food to CC produces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution. Additionally, farm workers are often paid substandard wages, subjected to harsh working conditions, and exposed to dangerous pesticides. Colorado College can use its food purchases to support local economies; encourage safe, environmentally friendly farming methods; and help alleviate poverty for farmers.

The college declined in its performance in this category. The decrease is largely due to the decrease in the percentage of food and beverage expenditures that are local and community-based from 30 percent in 2015 to 22 percent in 2016. One of CC’s largest suppliers of local food had a recall and this may have impacted the percentage of local, community-based food and beverage purchases. Additionally, the 22 percent was calculated using the Real Food Calculator, which is a stricter metric than Bon Appetit’s personal auditing system.

There are no large initiatives addressing food at CC.


Colorado College continues to address its energy consumption through conservation and efficiency and by switching to cleaner and renewable energy sources, particularly solar. Energy consumption directly impacts our greenhouse gas emissions, impacting global climate change. Energy costs are also one of the most volatile operating expenses the college grapples with. Reducing our overall energy use and becoming self-sufficient to the largest degree possible stabilizes these costs and allows us to better plan for future costs while reducing our associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Utility Cost Summary 2015

The college improved its score in Energy for 2016. Improvements were seen in both Building Energy Consumption and Clean and Renewable Energy. The college reduced its total energy consumption in MMBtu, heating and cooling degree-days, and grid-purchased electricity. Additionally, the college increased its “clean and renewable electricity generated by off-site projects that the institution catalyzed and for which the institution retains or has retired the associated environmental attribute” as well as its “purchased third-party certified RECs and similar renewable energy products.” The Baca PV solar project and the purchasing of additional renewable energy have helped CC improve this score.

Avoided Utility Cost

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding energy:

  1. The Green Sciences subcommittee of CSC is working to reduce the energy use of laboratory sciences.
  2. The Office of Facilities Services has multiple projects underway that will reduce total energy use and increase energy sourced from renewables. Some of these projects are: Campus LED Lighting Upgrades, El Pomar Electrical Service Upgrades, Central Plant Controls Upgrade Phase 2, Barnes Repair 1st and 3rd Floor Heating Piping, Cutler HVAC System Replacement, and Cornerstone Retro commissioning. 


Native plant garden, Bemis Hall in background

Native plant garden, Bemis Hall in background

The Grounds subcategory recognizes and recommends areas where Colorado College plans and maintains its grounds in accordance with sustainability principles. Beautiful and welcoming campus grounds can be planned, planted, and maintained without the use of toxic chemicals and while protecting wildlife habitat, and conserving water and resources. Colorado College has excelled in sustainable landscaping by means of its centralized irrigation control system, use of non-potable water, and placement of several native plant gardens on campus.

Colorado College saw a negligible change in its score for grounds in 2016. The grounds department at Colorado College is dedicated to sustainability and has already done a lot to pursue this goal.

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding grounds:

  1. The Office of Sustainability is currently pursuing its goal to certify Colorado College as a Tree Campus USA. This goal requires completing the certification process, of which the college is currently undergoing.


Colorado College can use its purchasing power to help build a sustainable economy. Each purchasing decision represents an opportunity for CC to choose environmentally and socially preferable products and services that support companies with strong commitments to sustainability.

The college saw a negligible change in purchasing for 2016.

There are no current initiatives by CSC or the OoS to improve sustainability in purchasing, although there is room for future improvement primarily in Office Paper Purchasing, Inclusive and Local Purchasing, and Guidelines for Business Partners.


Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that contribute to health problems such as heart and respiratory diseases and cancer. Due to disproportionate exposure, these health impacts are frequently more pronounced in low-income communities next to major transportation corridors. In addition, the extraction, production, and global distribution of fuels for transportation can damage environmentally and/or culturally significant ecosystems and may financially benefit hostile and/or oppressive governments.

The college improved its score in transportation for 2016. This improvement was mainly seen in the Employee Commute Modal Split section and some in the Support for Sustainable Transportation section. In 2015, the OoS conducted an employee survey about transportation methods. Increased documentation of commuting methods increased the college’s score in this category. Additionally, the addition of a bike-sharing program in 2015 contributed to an increased score.

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding transportation:

  1. The CSC is working to continuously improve sustainable transportation at CC. Methods to achieve this include: Develop and maintain relationships between parties and support the organizations with funding, advertising, and advocacy; and Increase campus participation in alternative transportation through cooperative events, program incentives, bike-to-work days, etc.


The Waste category highlights management practices and areas where Colorado College can improve by moving toward zero waste by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting. These actions mitigate the need to extract virgin materials, such as trees and metals. It generally takes less energy and water to make a product with recycled materials than with virgin resources. Reducing waste generation also reduces the flow of waste to incinerators and landfills, which produce greenhouse gas emissions, can contaminate air and groundwater supplies, and tends to have disproportionate negative impacts on low-income communities. Waste reduction and diversion also save Colorado College costly landfill and hauling service fees. In addition, waste reduction campaigns can engage the entire campus and broader community in contributing to a tangible sustainability goal.

CC decreased its score in the Waste category in 2016. Although the college increased its tons of materials recycled and tons of materials composted, it increased materials disposed of in a solid waste landfill as well and for this reason the college saw an overall decrease in score.

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding waste:

  1. Facilities services, Sodexo, Bon Appetit, and CSC have worked to install waste and recycling centers in the Worner Campus Center. These centers clearly designate waste streams and are intended to increase the college’s diversion rate from a landfill. The CSC plans to install these recycling centers in about 30 buildings on campus with specific design adjustments for each building if necessary.
  2. The CSC plans to work to reduce the number of pages printed on a year-to-year basis in the future. With the addition of Papercut, printing was made more efficient and easier, which has resulted in an increase in number of pages printed per person. The Office of Communications has already begun to email students and faculty their printing history in an effort to decrease printing.


This category applies to efforts and recommendations to protect water quality. Because pumping, delivering, and treating water are major energy users, Colorado College can help reduce energy consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy generation by conserving water. Likewise, conservation and effective stormwater management are important in maintaining and protecting finite groundwater supplies. Water conservation and effective stormwater management also reduce the need for effluent discharge into local surface water supplies, which helps improve the health of local water ecosystems.

The college decreased in its performance in the Water category in 2016. This decrease was seen specifically in Water Use as the college increased its total water use and almost doubled its non-potable water use.

There are no current initiatives regarding water by the CSC or OoS. The grounds department does implement a number of water-saving landscaping strategies, however.

Planning and Administration

Coordination, Planning, and Governance

This subcategory recognizes the institutionalizing of sustainability at Colorado College by dedicating resources to sustainability coordination, developing plans to move toward sustainability, and engaging students, staff, and faculty in governance. Staff and other resources help CC organize, implement, and publicize sustainability initiatives. These resources provide the infrastructure that fosters sustainability within CC. Sustainability planning affords an institution the opportunity to clarify its vision of a sustainable future, establish priorities and help guide budgeting and decision making. Strategic planning and internal stakeholder engagement in governance are important steps in making sustainability a campus priority and may help advocates implement changes to achieve sustainability goals.

The college improved its score in this section, reaching the full 8.00/8.00 points possible.  The reason for this improvement can be seen in the Sustainability Planning section where the college must announce its current and formal plans to advance sustainability in each section in STARS. The sustainability action report documented many of the sustainability efforts that the college was previously unable to claim.

Diversity and Affordability

This category recognizes efforts at Colorado College to advance diversity and affordability on campus. In order to build a sustainable society, diverse groups will need to be able to come together and work collaboratively to address sustainability challenges. People of color and low-income communities tend to suffer disproportionate exposure to environmental problems. This environmental injustice happens as a result of unequal and segregated communities. To achieve environmental and social justice, society must work to address discrimination and promote equality. The historical legacy and persistence of discrimination based on racial, gender, religious, and other differences makes a proactive approach to promoting a culture of inclusiveness an important component of creating an equitable society. Higher education opens doors to opportunities that can help create a more equitable world, and those doors must be open through affordable programs accessible to all regardless of race, gender, religion, socio- economic status and other differences. In addition, a diverse student body, faculty, and staff provide rich resources for learning and collaboration.

The college saw a negligible change in the Diversity and Affordability section in 2016.

Initiatives regarding diversity and affordability are largely being pursued by the Colorado College administration, The Butler Center, Office of Financial Aid, and the President’s Office.

Health, Well-being, and Work

This subcategory pertains to Colorado College’s incorporation of sustainability into its human resources programs and policies. The college’s people define its character and capacity to perform; and so, its achievements can only be as strong as its community. CC has bolstered the strength of its community by making fair and responsible investments in its human capital. Such investments include offering benefits, wages, and other assistance that serve to respectfully and ethically compensate workers and acting to protect and positively affect the health, safety, and well-being of the campus community. Investment in human resources is integral to the achievement of a healthy and sustainable balance between human capital, natural capital, and financial capital.

CC saw a negligible change in the score for Health, Well-being, and Work.

The Wellness Resource Center is constantly working to understand student mental health and wellness, and stay on top of addressing these issues in a proactive and wholesome way. The center plans to settle into a cycle of assessment including various surveys in order to track student issues as well as assess the center's own effectiveness.

The Wellness Resource Center is also pursuing a 7-dimensional model of health and wellness, which includes environmental wellness, intellectual wellness, and spiritual wellness to list a few. More information about the 7-dimensional model of health and wellness can be found on the Wellness Resource Center's website.


Colorado College can support sustainability by investing in companies and funds that, in addition to providing a strong rate of return, are committed to social and environmental responsibility. Investing in these industries also supports the development of sustainable products and services. Finally, CC can engage with the businesses in which we are invested in order to promote sustainable practices.

The college declined in its performance under Investments in 2016. This decline is largely due to a reporting error in 2015 stating that CC’s publicly held investments were open to the public for viewing. In actuality, only 30 percent of CC investments are available for viewing with percentages invested rather than dollar amounts. Specific dollar amounts of investments are considered as intellectual property of investment firms working for the college.

Below are the top initiatives at work regarding investment:

  1. The Investment subcommittee of CSC has made a plan to institutionalize the proxy voting process at Colorado College. This requires the creation of a “how-to” document for future proxy voting committees at Colorado College.
  2. CSC is investigating Portfolio 21, the current and only Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) mutual fund that the college is invested in. The research regarding this portfolio will make specific recommendations for future sustainable and responsible investments.
  3. Students are working with the Board of Trustees to create a Sustainable Investment Advisory Committee made up of students, faculty, and staff. This committee would investigate investments, define “responsible investing,” and advise the Board of Trustees.


Innovation credits are reserved for new, extraordinary, unique, groundbreaking, or uncommon outcomes, policies, and practices that exceed the highest criterion of an existing STARS® credit or are not covered by an existing STARS® credit. Below are a list of four different programs in which Colorado College is displaying its unique, innovative character and commitment to sustainability in all of its different forms.

#1: Collaborative for Community Engagement Database

The CCE database is a collaboration between different entities on campus in order to solidify, strengthen, and expand the college's relationships with the community. The Office of Sustainability, the Career Center, the CCE and every facet of campus that interacts with the outside community will both contribute to and utilize the database. The database will record which party at each organization the college is working with, the number of hours they are engaged in work, and the goals of the projects. The database will organize and institutionalize the college's community engagement, log community service hours, and strengthen relationships.

The CCE database will result in an accurate measure of campus-wide community engagement hours, which CC currently estimates. Organizations will become documented partners with the college, ensuring their future involvement with groups on campus and their commitment from the school. The database will have a clear list of partner organizations, which can be referenced for future outreach. The database will allow for more organized, thoughtful outreach that can become campus-wide as opposed to office or group specific. The database will provide a platform to expand community engagement for the future.

This innovation pertains to:

  • Campus Engagement
  • Public Engagement

#2: Net Zero Library Design

Architectural rendering of post-renovation Tutt Library

Architectural rendering of post-renovation Tutt Library

The net-zero library design is a plan for the new library at Colorado College to be net-zero in both utility grid-provided energy and in carbon emissions. The library will be constructed throughout the 2017-18 academic year and is designed as a holistic building system to achieve the net-zero performance. There are four tenets of this system design achieving net-zero performance: 1.) Building efficiency and conservation, 2.) Onsite combined heat and power, 3.) Distributed heat generation and storage, and 4.) Photovoltaics to offset carbon emissions associated with combined heat and power. The net-zero library design uses these elements in its plan for the first library of its kind. The Colorado College Campus Sustainability Council was integral in the creation of the net-zero library design, drafting a resolution and taking a unanimous vote in Spring 2015.

CC's current library uses about 6 percent of the total campus energy. The creation of a net-zero library will have a large impact on CC's carbon footprint and energy consumption. The library design incorporates PV solar power as well as sustainable investments to offset carbon emissions, both of which have significant impacts on local industry. Colorado College is the first school of its kind to design a net-zero library at this scale (97,000+ square feet) operating 24 hours per day. CC is a leading school setting a standard for other liberal arts colleges to follow. By creating a net-zero library, CC is putting sustainability at the heart of academic pursuits, the college's mission, and CC's potential for impact.

This innovation pertains to:

  • Campus Engagement
  • Public Engagement
  • Air and Climate
  • Buildings

#3: Sense of Place Trips

This year the Office of Sustainability, the Office of Field Studies, and the Outdoor Recreation Club have collaborated to create Sense of Place trips following the introduction of Sense of Place into New Student Orientation two years ago. These trips are open to students, faculty, and staff and attempt to go beyond the introduction to Colorado Springs and the west during NSO. Fall 2015 trips included birding at Pinello Ranch, a Native American history walk through Cheyenne Canon, a water tour with Colorado Springs Utilities, and a tour of the waste material recovery facility. Trips planned for Spring 2016 are a Martin Drake Power Plant tour, "Not your average ski trip" discussing the impacts of the commercial ski industry on Colorado forest land, a Venetucci Farms workday, a visit to the Ludlow Massacre site, and another trip to go birding at Pinello Ranch. These trips provide an educational setting for students, faculty, and staff to learn hands-on about Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the greater west.

Rock-climbing at Garden of the Gods

A "Sense of Place" rock-climbing trip to Garden of the Gods

The sense of place trips work to engrain an ethic of sustainability in students, faculty, and staff to care for Colorado College's greater community. With 80 percent of the student body coming from out-of-state, these trips educate students about CC and its surroundings. Fostering a sense of place also fosters a caring and engagement with the place itself. It is necessary to bolster this understanding in order to pursue sustainability and analyze CC's impact on its environment in order to make it a valuable community member and an agent for change. The sense of place trips increase the number of students with basic knowledge about CC's surrounding environment and also increase the student, faculty, and staff engagement in sustainability related issues.

This innovation pertains to:

  • Campus Engagement
  • Public Engagement
  • Energy
  • Waste
  • Water


Colorado College has made exemplary strides in sustainability performance within the past year and sustainability continues to be a centerpiece of our strategies to remain relevant to our students and the world moving forward. Indeed, sustainability is a prominent piece of our strategic plan and the master plan and is exemplified in our daily actions, including our continued drive towards carbon neutrality, our design of the new Tutt Library as a net-zero energy/net-zero carbon building, and our increasing portfolio of sustainability courses. Our STARS® Gold benchmark rating is evidence of the ethic and practices that permeate the administration, faculty, staff, and students at our college. By using this widely accepted and comprehensive metric, we have made solid improvements in our performance and have a clear road map of where to head in the coming years.

The Colorado College 2016 State of Sustainability Report provides the self-check on the efforts that we have begun over the past year. Our status as a STARS® Gold institution validates many of the efforts begun over the past years as well as re-focuses our efforts in new areas as we strive to become a STARS® Platinum institution and a premier sustainability example while providing the finest liberal arts education in the country.


The Colorado College 2016 State of Sustainability Report is produced by the Colorado College Office of Sustainability in close collaboration with the Campus Sustainability Council, the Dean’s Office, and the Office of Sustainability interns. This document has been co-authored by Ian Johnson, Kendall Kultgen, and the Office of Communications (with names) but is the work of the many people noted below. STARS® data used in this report have been compiled by Ian Johnson, Kendall Kultgen, and Kyra Wolf between September 2015 and May 2016.

Colorado College Campus Sustainability Council


Howard Drossman, Education
Karen To, Communications
Gabriella Palko, Office of Sustainability Student Intern Manager

Office of Sustainability

Ian Johnson, Sustainability Director
Anna Kelly, Communications Intern
Kendall Kultgen, State of Sustainability Intern
Charlotte Cadow, Buildings and Grounds Intern
Sophie Javna, Local Food Liaison
Katy Dupree, Greenhouse Gas Inventory Intern
Kyra Wolf, Curriculum Development Intern
Lily Biggar, Residence Life Intern
Niyanta Khatri – Website Maintenance and Development Intern
Meredith Allen – Zero Waste Intern


Barbara Whitten, Physics
Mark Wilson, Biology
Miro Kummel, Environmental Science
Corina McKendry, Political Science
Mark Smith, Economics and Business


George Eckhardt, Facilities
Tom Allen, Sodexo
Roz Brokaw, Admissions
Sara Gallagher-Carlson, Advancement
Laura Rosendo, Advancement
Darren Ceckanowicz, Technical Director, EV
Don Davidson, Interim Purchasing Director/Facilities Services
Mark Ferguson, Campus Energy Manager
Cecelia Gonzalez, Facilities
Ryan Hammes, Outdoor Education
Derek Hanson, Bon Appetit
Randy Kruse, Bon Appetit
John Lauer, Director of Residential Life and Housing
Mark Lee, Director of Web & Digital Media
Leslie Weddell, Communications
Leonard Ortman, Controls Specialist, Facilities
Tess Powers, Dean’s Office
Mike Siddoway, Associate Dean of the Faculty
McKinley Sielaf, Library
Dave Harker, Center for Community Engagement
Justin Weis, Associate Director of Housing Operations
Patrick Bultema, ExDir, Innovation Institute
Denise Sheridan, Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator
Paul Buckley, The Butler Center
Liz Scherkenbach, IT
Naomi Clark, Finance and Admin
Laura Wawrousek-Snyder, Career Center
Jane Newberry, Athletics
Brooke Larson, SOR
Drew Cavin, Field Studies

Local Community Members

Frank Kinder, Colorado Springs Utilities (
Alicia Archibald, Bestway (
Jane Ard-Smith, Colorado Springs Sierra Club (
Linda Kogan, Sustainability Director, UCCS (
Konrad Schlarbaum, Sustainability Coordinator, PPCC (


Laurel Sebastian, EnACT Co-chair
Sierra Melton, EnACT Co-chair
Vacant, CCSGA
Erika Hiromitsu, Local LLC RA

Colorado College Administration, Faculty, and Staff

Jill Tiefenthaler, President

Mary Frances Kerr, Special Assistant to the President

Robert Moore, Vice President for Finance and Administration

Mike Edmonds, Vice President of Student Life/ Dean of Students
Sandra Wong, Dean of the College/Faculty

Mike Siddoway, Associate Dean of the Faculty

Tom Allen, General Manager, Sodexo

Lisa Brommer, Associate Director, Human Resources

Pam Butler, HR Manager

Paul Buckley, Assistant Vice President/Director of The Butler Center

Chris Coulter, Director of Facilities Services

Don Davidson, Interim Director of Purchasing

Stacy Lutz Davidson, Controller/Assistant Treasurer

Portions of text in the category and subcategory descriptions of this document are used with permission from the AASHE STARS® 2.0 Technical Manual