CC President Signs Climate Commitment, with Initial Work Done - Colorado College

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For Immediate Release


Leslie Weddell
(719) 389-6038 


Colorado College already meets carbon neutrality pledge’s requirements for first two years

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – April 14, 2009 – Colorado College President Richard F. Celeste didn’t sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment two years ago, when it was initiated nationwide.

But when he signs the carbon-neutrality commitment today, CC won’t have lost any time at all, already having completed the pledge’s first two years of requirements.

Celeste chose not to sign in 2007, preferring first to have more information in hand, including the college’s carbon footprint and the efforts necessary for it to reach carbon neutrality. In the meantime, Colorado College has completed a full study of its carbon footprint and drafted a sustainability plan to meet the full goal.

“I purposely did not sign the Presidents Climate Commitment when first asked, as I wanted to ensure that if Colorado College made this commitment, we would fully follow through with it,” Celeste said. “The progress we have made on the initiatives is concrete and extensive, and we now enter confidently into this commitment.”

American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment spokesperson Lee Bodner said, “President Celeste and his team have not only done their homework – they’ve earned extra credit.  By doing such extensive advanced investigation and planning, Colorado College is farther ahead in fulfilling the terms of the Commitment than almost any other school in the country.”

Colorado College’s proposed goal for achieving climate neutrality is 2020. The college’s long-term goal is to become carbon-regenerative and a net energy producer.

The Presidents Climate Commitment, signed by 620 college and university presidents and chancellors across the country, enlists institutions of higher education to shape strategies and create models for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Presidents signing the Commitment pledge to eliminate their campus’ greenhouse gas emissions over time. This involves:

Within two months of signing, creating institutional structures that can develop and implement a plan for carbon neutrality. Those structures are already in place at Colorado College, in the form of the Campus Sustainability Council and the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability.

Within one year of signing, conducting a comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. Colorado College has three years of greenhouse gas emissions reports, from fiscal year 2006 to 2008, with plans to continue tracking emissions annually. CC hired The Brendle Group, a local external sustainability consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive environmental inventory and make recommendations for managing sustainability at the college.

Within two years of signing, submitting an action plan for achieving carbon neutrality.
In recent months, CC’s Campus Sustainability Council, with the input of all sectors of campus, drafted the Colorado College Sustainability Plan, which includes initiatives to better manage energy, increasing energy efficiency and conservation, and transition to renewable energy sources. The plan, accepted by the Colorado College Board of Trustees in February, may be viewed at
While the plan is being developed, carrying out two or more of the seven tangible actions set forth by the PCC to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Of these, CC already is credited with providing access to public transportation and with numerous initiatives that minimize waste.

Creating interim targets for goals and actions that will lead to climate neutrality. CC aims to reduce emissions approximately 5% per year through efficiency and conservation measures. In addition, the college is conducting feasibility studies for a large-scale renewable energy project that will cut all emissions associated with electricity and offset other sectors.

Taking actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students. Colorado College has well-established environmental science and policy programs, with global climate change courses accessible to all students. In addition, the college is conducting a campus-wide resources conservation campaign that is tied to the energy conservation goals set forth in the college’s sustainability plan.

Taking actions to expand research or other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality. Research related to climate and energy issues is thriving at CC. For example, the college is erecting an educational solar array to study the potential for solar photovoltaic in the region.

Establishing mechanisms for tracking progress on goals and actions.  The Colorado College Campus Sustainability Council utilizes the Clean Air – Cool Planet tool to calculate and track emissions and will draft an annual report card to demonstrate progress toward carbon neutrality.

Initiating two or more of the following tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gases while the more comprehensive plan is being developed:

  • Establish a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.  This policy is informally in place, as demonstrated by CC’s two newest buildings, the Russell T. Tutt Science Center, which is LEED certified, and the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, which is pending certification.
  • Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.  All major appliances purchased through CC’s Facilities Services are ENERGY STAR certified. The department is drafting an official purchasing policy that will feature sustainability standards and metrics, including ENERGY STAR guidelines.
  • Encourage use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at the institution. Colorado College supports the a free public shuttle system known as the Downtown Area Shuttle, or DASH, that accesses the south end of campus and runs through downtown Colorado Springs.
  • Establish a policy or a committee that supports climate and sustainability shareholder proposals at companies where the institution's endowment is invested.  The CC Campus Sustainability Council has a subcommittee comprised of faculty, staff and students that research and make recommendations on climate-friendly investments.
  • Participate in the Waste Minimization component of the national RecycleMania competition, and adopt three or more associated measures to reduce waste. Colorado College is participating in RecycleMania and has institutionalized several waste minimization measures, including a single-stream recycling program, a GoPrint software initiative to limit paper use, and incentives for reusable containers.

For more information about the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, see

About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,985 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit