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Student Led Sustainability: Experts Say Students Contribute To Changing Culture

An Eco Leaders sign in the The Pavilion at Laurel Village April 13. The Pavilion was CSU’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified platinum building, which is one of the requirements to get a perfect STARS rating. (Ryan Schmidt | Collegian)

Colorado State University is the only university to earn a Platinum rating from the STARS sustainability ranking system. CSU also has 20 LEED certified sustainable buildings on campus.

Both LEED and STARS are ranking systems based on meeting a list of sustainable criteria. STARS looks at everything from facilities to programs, encompassing the university as a whole sustainable entity, while LEED certification is building and facility specific.

CSU has become a powerhouse within the sustainability movement, from research to practice. Experts at CSU believe that students have contributed to CSU’s success in becoming a leading sustainable campus.

“I think our biggest success has been getting more students involved in the conversation here at CSU,” said Jacob Kimiecik from The Green Bulletin, a campus sustainability newsletter.

The Green Bulletin has over 2,000 subscribers as of this year. When Kimiecik started, they had 200.

Tim Broderick, sustainability coordinator for Housing and Dining Services, has also witnessed changes in student involvement.

“The construction of buildings, program development, composting, all of these individual pieces have started to create a culture shift,” said Broderick. “I can feel myself witnessing it, and I can see it in the incoming class.”

Much of this change has come about because of student effort and the programs that have arisen in the past few years.

For example, The Spoke, a student run bike shop in Laurel Pavilion, not only has student friendly prices on repairs, but if you watch and learn along with the technicians, they will not charge you for their services.

“If you want to see change happen, make noise, make yourself known and recognize that you have power.” — Carol Dollard, lead engineer for CSU’s solar plant

Another popular program is the Eco Leaders program, which Broderick co-teaches with Tonie Miyamoto.

It is a program that places one student leader in each residence hall and trains these leaders in sustainability.

Those leaders then go out into their own hall and help others learn and adjust their behaviors to be more conscious of sustainability in our daily lives.

Broderick can see these things taking effect, and in a big way.

“I’ve never seen so many bikes at The Spoke, it’s been full every single day,” said Broderick. “I think witnessing the culture shift is probably the biggest change that I’ve seen, and it’s due to all of the amazing things that are happening.”

The lead engineer for CSU’s solar plant, Carol Dollard, also said this shift was student led.

“Things that come from students often go farther than if they come from staff,” said Dollard. “If you want to see change happen, make noise, make yourself known and recognize that you have power.”

Without student interest, experts would not have anywhere to channel their passion, and we would not have come so far in such a short amount of time.

We are part of a sustainable movement that begins with us, but ends in something that could impact everyone on campus, every university in the country or even the whole world.

We have the power to make a difference, and the fact that we have come so far is definitely something to show off with pride.

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