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Scot Woolley, left, chases Dan Omasta, dressed as a bag monster, through the University of Colorado campus during an Earth Day celebration in April. Omasta, sustainability chair for CU s Student Government, said the campus has several new sustainability projects planned for the upcoming school year.
Stephen Swofford
Scot Woolley, left, chases Dan Omasta, dressed as a bag monster, through the University of Colorado campus during an Earth Day celebration in April. Omasta, sustainability chair for CU s Student Government, said the campus has several new sustainability projects planned for the upcoming school year.

Despite the University of Colorado’s long history of being a leader in sustainability, some students said they will never give up on finding ways to save.

Dan Omasta, sustainability chair for CU’s Student Government, has a list of projects filling up his summer, all of which add to the university’s environmentally friendly reputation.

“Sustainability really transcends the individual barriers we put up as students and as a community,” Omasta said. “It really does touch every aspect of our lives, from the food we eat to what types of chemicals are sprayed on the grasses where we play.”

With CU constantly creating programs to help reduce student’s carbon footprints, financial burdens often make implementation a long and daunting process. But thanks to a $50,000 sustainability fund started by the senior class of 2010, which will hopefully be replenished by donations, many more projects will have the necessary financial support.

Along with continued efforts by the university — including a zero-waste plan currently in progress and revamped recycling efforts in renovated buildings like the University Memorial Center — students can expect to see at least three major changes in the upcoming school year.

Green-house greens

The university is currently working with Boulder County to build a green house that would grow fresh food for campus dining halls and local nonprofits.

The county is looking for a site to build the green house, while Omasta searches for the structure itself.

Having a local green house would allow CU to grow some of its own food, minimizing the processing required when food is shipped to the university.

“I think the green house idea is great,” said CU senior Dan Gruber. “Helping the dining halls get some better-quality vegetables would be ideal.”

The process has been moving along well, Omasta said, but construction is not expected to begin until the spring of 2011.

Toxic-free turf

Pesticide use has been a controversial topic in Boulder recently, and CU is jumping on the bandwagon to help rid its landscaping program of toxic chemicals.

A committee combining members of the student government, the Environmental Center, facilities management, housing and dining services and the environmental board, will dedicate the next six months to studying pesticide use and looking for ways to reduce the use of chemicals.

The committee will determine in December how much and where chemical reductions will take place for the following year.

Resources debate

With the election for Colorado’s newest governor taking place in November, CU is inviting candidates to a natural resources debate in September in Macky Auditorium.

If they accept, the candidates will discuss their positions on statewide resources and related policies such as water, energy and land use.

The debate will not only help students understand how their vote can affect sustainability across the state, but will also encourage students to head to the polls, Omasta said.

CU junior Becky Neuman said she’s happy that sustainability is a high priority for CU.

“So many other schools don’t have anything in place,” she said, “so it’s great that our school can give back so much.”

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