Building on Carbon-Neutrality at Colorado College

COLORADO COLLEGE–Colorado College just opened a newly transformed Tutt Library, touted by college officials as the greenest academic library in the country. Now, CC has plans to build a new ice rink that will also be considered environmentally friendly. These actions follow a gigantic push by Colorado College’s Office of Sustainability in recent years to increase sustainability on campus, setting forth a highly commendable goal in the recent Campus Climate Commitment for the college to become carbon neutral by 2020. To be dubbed “carbon-neutral” the carbon footprint, meaning all energy consumption or emissions released, must either be eliminated (replaced with technology like solar panels) or reduced and balanced by carbon offsets (supported reduction in carbon elsewhere).

“We are in a good place to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020, though it is a fairly aggressive goal and we could be in a better place,” said Colorado College Sustainability Paraprofessional Mae Rohrbach. The college is currently in a process of renovation and expansion, in which sustainability has been at the forefront. In order to be environmentally sustainable, demands placed on the environment must be limited while allowing people to live well in a way that balances both and is able to be maintained in the future. The recently upgraded Tutt Library is now the largest net-zero energy and carbon-neutral academic library in the country. According to Rohrbach, the college intends on continuing to install environmentally responsible technology and construct more zero emission buildings in the near future to join alongside Tutt in an effort to balance growth with viable energy use.

One impending building project aimed at carbon-neutrality is the proposed Robson Arena, intended to be an improved home for Colorado College’s increasingly successful hockey team. In contrast, Honnen Ice Arena, the current on-campus ice rink, uses more energy than any other campus building. Rohrbach said is in-part due to the fact that it is an older building combined with the high energy demand needed maintain proper temperatures for the ice. The school has not yet released details on how carbon-neutrality will be achieved with the new arena. Notable, however, the new arena will drastically reduce transportation emissions currently released by commuting to the off-campus varsity arena for hockey games.

Though Colorado College seems to be amidst a time of expansion, responsible limited impact on the environment appears to be the mission.

“We have and will add square feet without adding emissions,” Rohrbach said. With the construction of more carbon-neutral buildings, Colorado College administrators seem to be working hard to achieve their 2020 goal, just two short years away.

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