It’s a good sign when the largest presence in town takes serious steps to reduce its energy use:
CU’s conservation efforts also are a move toward meeting Gov. Bill Ritter’s executive orders to decrease fuel consumption 25 percent, cut energy and paper use 20 percent, water use 10 percent and incorporate zero-waste operations statewide by 2012.
A team of CU leaders is focused on reducing water use 30 million gallons a year by 2012. So far, CU has installed 890 dual-flush handles for toilets.
Dave Newport, director of the CU Environmental Center, said the school’s next step is a 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020, and the school is on pace to achieve that goal.
You’ve heard “my body is a temple,” but how about “my house is a body?”
The wall, as the CU team of engineers and architects proposes, would use channels of advanced polymers to naturally heat or cool homes similar to how the human body regulates its temperature.
“What we are envisioning is actually having a wall that has a vascular network inside,” said Kurt Maute, an associate professor with CU’s aerospace engineering sciences department.
The team of engineers assigned think that the living wall could have commercial applications in 20 years.
LEED-certified green buildings are great for the environment, but as it turns out, they maybe not great for your cell signal.
At the University of Colorado, where the number of bars on your cell phone goes up and down as you walk across campus, things are particularly grim in the newly constructed LEED buildings.
For most CU students, spotty cell phone reception has become the norm on campus and has gotten worse with the construction of new environmentally friendly buildings. University officials say they’re hard at work on ways to improve cell phone service on campus.
A recent analysis of signal strength found that there are weak spots across campus, particularly in newly constructed buildings that meet LEED environmental standards, said Greg Stauffer, communications manager for CU’s Information Technology Services.
“The problems in LEED buildings had to do with improved insulation and UV filtering windows affecting signal strength,” Stauffer said. “It was an unexpected effect of the new construction, but we’re working on addressing the issue as quickly as possible.”
How much waste is produced by the students moving in and out of Boulder each year? Well, enough to warrant a lot of extra garbage trucks, apparently.
The requirements mandate that landlords in the University Hill and Goss/Grove neighborhoods, known for high concentrations of student rental properties, sign up for additional trash pickup during designated times in the spring and fall. Additional trash pickup, already required from May 4-10 this year, will be required from July 31 through Aug. 30.
Seriously, these are college students. They had Craigslist before they had braces. Figure it out, kids! Or consider investing in summer storage!
To maintain a zero-waste standard, the three buildings will have to divert 90 percent — or 412,600 pounds — of their waste from landfills. Paper towel composting, further reduction of Styrofoam and sustainability training for employees are part of the legislation’s suggestions for reaching this goal.
In a city where there are tons of renters, it’s tough to motivate people to spend money on saving energy. That’s part of why the University of Colorado’s Environmental Center is helping students living off campus chip away at their energy bills by visiting their homes to show them how:
Hosted by CU’s Environmental Center, Student and Community Outreach for Renter Efficiency — or SCORE — teaches students living in certain Boulder neighborhoods how to lower their energy bills by making their homes more efficient through simple and inexpensive adjustments, such as using energy efficient light bulbs or setting thermostats to optimal temperatures. Read more
The University of Colorado is making changes to its recycling program that will make participation twice as easy. (Actually, 2.5 times as easy, if you’re a math person.)
Now, recycling locations around CU still have five bins — which to a lot of us Boulderites seems, well, pretty old school. (Read more about they city’s single-stream recycling on BigGreenBoulder.) The plan, according to an article in the Daily Camera, is to implement “dual-stream” recycling, which would cut the number of bins to two: one for paper and one for pretty much everything else.
How do you solve a problem that nearly everyone knows exists, but no one will talk about? Or at least no one with any political power will talk about?
That seems to be the case with the Colorado River. The annual demand on the river by the seven basin states and Mexico — just more than 15 million acre feet — is more than the average annual flow. (And if you live anywhere in Boulder County, you’re part of the “demand.” About 20 percent of the city of Boulder’s water is pumped from the Colorado River’s watershed over the continental divide. If you live in most other towns in the county, your percentage is far higher.)
So something’s got to change. Which, like I said, everyone seems to know. But, then, why doesn’t it seem like anyone’s getting serious about a change? Maybe it’s because talking about changing the rules of the Colorado River is a big political landmine.
Take John McCain. Remember when he told the Pueblo Chieftan in August 2008 that the 1922 Colorado River Compact — which divvies up the river water between the seven states — should be renegotiated? If you do, you might also remember the immediate outrage from Coloradans like Ken Salazar, whose immediate reaction was, “Over my dead body” will the contract be renegotiated.
Now a handful of lawyers from the University of Colorado are looking at what rules govern the river (and this means picking through a web of complicated treaties, compacts, state laws and court rulings) and what should be changed to create a sustainable mangement plan. With no political horse in the race, the lawyers hope that their suggestion for improvements can be picked up later by politicians…. making it a safer topic to discuss. (“Hey,” the politician could say, “this wasn’t my idea… I’m just looking into this report from these lawyers.” Then after gauging the public response, he or she could say, “Hey, this was kind of my idea.”)
You get the picture. Read more about CU’s yearlong project at DailyCamera.com.
Somebody alert the local paper: Boulder’s not perfect.
In a feat of data mapping that makes us happy we live in the future, the EPA has gone ahead and mapped “information on enforcement actions and cases from 2009.” Which is to say that if you were naughty last year, we can see your house from here.
Students from the University of Colorado who participated in a class on film and climate change will screen their own global warming flicks tonight on campus.
Matthew McAllister flips off the lights when he leaves his dorm room. He refills his water bottle instead of buying plastic ones, and he rations himself one paper towel when he dries his hands.
But a single flight to Washington, D.C., that he took this semester for a political science course canceled out his efforts, the University of Colorado student says.
He calculates that he would need to recycle 708 aluminum cans to offset his portion of the carbon dioxide emitted by the plane.
“While I would like to think these small, conscious efforts make a difference, the truth is I know they don’t,” McAllister says.
For a course on film and climate change, McAllister produced a short video about the challenges he has with his carbon footprint, as well as environmental equality. (His portion of CO2 for the plane trip was about the same amount that an average person in Tanzania uses all year).