Climate Change

At UCCS, we are working to reduce our carbon emissions and incorporating sustainability into the curriculum to increase the ecological literacy of our graduates. In 2007, Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak became a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Along with more than 500 schools, UCCS will neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate its research and educational efforts to equip students to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.

The UCCS Climate Action Committee is completing a greenhouse gas inventory, developing a long-term plan for carbon neutrality, and implementing several short-term carbon reduction strategies. Strategies already implemented include:

• A commitment to LEED silver certification or equivalent on all new buildings or major renovations,

• An Energy Star appliance policy.

• Participation in the waste minimization component of RecycleMania, a nationwide competition among higher education institutions to increase awareness and recycling rates.

• UCCS submitted its Climate Action Plan to ACUPCC on June 30, 2010. The plan is available here.

• UCCS administration, faculty and staff presented our climate plans, goals, and mitigation activities at a campus forum on March 1, 2011. The presentation from that event can be downloaded here.


Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Using the Clean Air Cool Planet (CACP) tool, UCCS recently completed its latest greenhouse gas inventory -- the results are displayed in the chart below.

UCCS 2011 GHG Emissions 

Measured emissions for the 2010-2011 school year were 30,781 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mt eCO2). Three primary greenhouse gases are measured: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). Since some gases are more potent than others with regard to global warming potential, emissions are expressed in a common unit, equivalent carbon dioxide (eCO2), to compare their impacts. The inventory measured emissions from buildings, campus fleet, commuting, academic-related airline travel, and waste. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of our emissions are generated from the operations of our buildings: electricity for lighting, computers, equipment, and cooling, and natural gas for space and water heating. Other very small sources of campus greenhouse gas emissions, such as paper use or wastewater treatment which represent less than 1% of total emissions, are not displayed on the graph.

As a signatory of the ACUPCC, UCCS has committed to carbon neturality (net zero greenhouse gas emission). Though we have not committed to a specific date to achieve carbon neutrality, interim milestones to achieve 20%, 50% and 80% reductions in emissions by 2020, 2030, and 2050 respectively have been established. There are a number of factors that can contribute to changes in greenhouse gas emissions, such as an increase in building space or campus population or the fuel mix (coal, natural gas, renewable srouces) that is used to generate electricity at Colorado Springs Utilities. To track progress in achieving our goals, the university tracks the trend in overall emissions reductions, as well as the emissions per square foot and per weighted campus user, which are represented in the graphs below.

UCCS GHG Emissions Trend, 2005-2011 UCCS GHG Emissions Trend per Square Foot, 2005-2011

UCCS 2011 GHG Emissions Trend per Campus User, 2005-2011 

 Ecological Footprint
Another way to look at the impact of UCCS on the environment is to examine the ecological footprint of the campus. This summary of this analysis, prepared by a UCCS graduate student in 2004, is displayed on the map below.

UCCS Ecological Footprint

The ecological footprint indicates that the UCCS campus requires more than 34,000 acres--an area 67 times larger than the actual campus--to supply the necessary resources and assimilate waste on an annual basis. This analysis measured the consumption and assimilated waste of the university and determined the specific biologically productive area, or footprint, necessary to sustain the energy, transportation, food, paper, water, and solid waste for the campus. Recommendations to reduce the campus ecological footprint have been incorporated into campus sustainability strategies.