From stickers reminding students to turn bathroom lights off to campus-wide recycling, the University of Colorado has taken many initiatives to become as environmentally friendly as possible.
However, much of what makes CU green isn't visible when you're walking around campus. Since there various photovoltaic installations throughout campus that produce enough energy to power 1,5000 homes, to neutralize the impact made by the UMC and Rec Center, the CU Student Government purchases offsets to counteract some of the energy. From 2006-2013, CU reduced its energy use by 23 percent, even though there was a 28 percent increase in campus building space. (Not to mention we were the first university to establish a recycling program!)
It's initiatives like these that have won CU the Sierra Club's "Greenest School" award and a STARS Gold Rating. That being said, in many ways CU is only as green as the students it educates, which is why ample resources are available for students to make sustainable living choices. Since residence halls are equipped with energy-efficient updates, one resource allows students to earn Green Room Certifications to learn how to be more environmentally friendly while living on campus. But when students move off-campus, they often move into houses and apartments that aren't nearly as green as campus buildings. Fortunately, there are tons of easy ways students can take sustainability home.
Small changes go a long way when it comes to increasing energy efficiency in your home. Here are some tips:
•LED light bulbs use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last up to 25 times longer.
•Keeping the thermostat at 65 degrees in the winter greatly decreases energy usage.
•Unplug electronics (including cell phone and laptop chargers) and appliances when not in use.
Because CU prioritizes green living, resources are available to help students. SCORE (Student and Community Outreach on Renter Efficiency) is a free service to help students shrink both their energy bills and ecological footprints. CU students can make an appointment for SCORE representatives to install energy-saving devices and conduct an energy assessment in a rental, all for free. (Plus, if more than half of your roommates are present, SCORE will give you a large Cosmo's Pizza.)
You can also check out a Watt meter from Norlin library to determine how much your appliances and electronics use when not in use, but plugged in. Boulder residents and non-students enlist EnergySmart to help a home become more energy efficient.
Even though the sun is setting earlier and it's getting chilly outside, there's no need to increase your energy consumption. It's easy to make your home and habits more energy efficient — small efforts to be green always pay off.
Drew Searchinger works at CU's Environmental Center.