Last week, we traveled to the University of Colorado at Boulder to learn more about that school’s award-winning recycling program. One of the first campus programs in the nation, U Colorado recycling was established in the mid-1970’s and has now expanded to include all special and major athletic events. The school is in the process of developing a zero waste policy and expanding compost collection to many buildings. I have to say that it is one of the most visible campus recycling programs I’ve ever seen. Virtually everywhere you turn, there are recycling collection containers and signage. It’s an impressive effort that speaks to the campus commitment.
The interesting thing about the University of Colorado program is that it’s a partnership between the student government, facilities management folks and housing folks. Student fees are considerable at U Colorado but one result of that is that students have an active and very participatory role in campus operations and management. The Environmental Services Office, which houses a portion of the recycling effort, is funded through student fees.
Then we went down to Golden to visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s new (nearly) net-zero building, the Research Support Facility. A multitude of energy conservation measures have been incorporated into this building, including a labyrinth thermal storage space, transpired solar collectors, and ultimately, about 1.5 MW of on-site solar photovoltaics. Extensive daylighting means that 100 percent of the workstations receive natural lighting. Individual fixed sunshades disperse afternoon light. There are over 42 miles of radiant piping that use water for heating and cooling. The large data center is receives energy-efficient cooling and plug loads are reduced through the use of laptops. This 220,000 square foot Platinum LEED (pending) building cost $259/ square foot to construct and completed, it cost $279/square foot. Its annual energy use is 35 kBtu/square foot and that includes the high-performance data center.