Campus’ environmental Blueprint looks to lead public policy
CU Environmental Center’s plan that deals with environmental issues on campus has peaked the interest of higher education members of Bill Ritter’s staff.
In 2000, the CU Environmental Center created a plan for action that dealt with environmental campus issues in sustainability and quality. The plan, “Blueprint for a Green Campus,” has been revised twice since it was first drafted. In 2004, The Environmental Center formed seven task-specific committees to reconstruct each section of the Blueprint. According to a summary of the Blueprint, in 2006 the Environmental Center made the plan more inclusive.
There are now detailed environmental, fiscal and social goals for CU. These goals include water-use reduction and environmental education as part of CU’s core curriculum. The Blueprint has already generated action from the CU Student Union. UCSU has, over the years, contributed by endorsing wind energy for the UCSU buildings on campus and recently by signing a plan drafted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to implement money-saving, environmentally-friendly practices for UCSU buildings.
“A whole bunch of different people developed it, it has a very broad support base. Students, faculty, elected officials all had a hand, lots of people think it’s a good idea,” said Environmental Center Director Dave Newport. “It recognizes that the campus wants and needs to grow efficiently in an environmentally compatible manner.”
Many Colorado congressmen have taken interest in the plan, including David Skaggs, Colorado’s head of the Department of Higher Education. Skaggs has looked favorably upon the plan in the past, and many people from the CU committee are hopeful that he will use the Blueprint to influence public environmental policies for other campuses and perhaps for statewide use. Over the next few weeks, the Environmental Center and members of congress will be meeting to determine possible outcomes that the Blueprint could have on a larger scale.
“The people interested are new in office and we are meeting in a few weeks, I suspect we will know more then,” Newport said. “A number of folks who worked on it suggest that it may guide public policy.”
In his State of the State speech on Jan. 11, Governer Bill Ritter explained what he calls his “New Energy Economy,” which is a plan to make Colorado a more energy-efficient state by using renewable energy and creating jobs in the market to potentially boost the economy.
“Now we must do everything possible to ensure that the futuristic technology coming from the labs and the classrooms is transferred to the marketplace,” Ritter said in his speech. “And it’s already happening. Private companies are knocking on our door wanting to build the biggest wind farms and solar parks in the country right here in Colorado.”
In his speech, Ritter named NREL, CU, CSU and Colorado School of Mines as some of Colorado’s “finest research facilities” that will guide the formation of his New Energy Economy. For CU, many of the Blueprint’s goals have already been met, but one of its most important aspects still lies in the power of Colorado’s public officials.
According to the Blueprint, the one main component of the plan is to “identify and promote incentives to overcome institutional and structural barriers to the implementation of economically and environmentally beneficial decision making and action.”
“It is a great connection between our goals; we are all thinking the same way. I am optimistic that statewide we are going to see a lot of benefits,” said Rob Hall, Energy Program Manager of the CU Environmental Center.
For more information visit the CU Environmental Center Web site.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Amanda Pehrson at Amanda.Pehrson@thecampuspress.com