Green is Gold: Colorado State University Continues to Reduce Campus Energy Use, Costs and Pollution

The Green is Gold campaign, in its fourth year of operation at Colorado State University, is making great strides in reducing energy use, water use and pollution across campus, as well as saving the university many thousands of dollars annually.

The first two years of the Green is Gold program were devoted primarily to building temperature setbacks, re-insulation and tuning up building operating systems. More recently, efforts have concentrated on larger energy conservation projects.   

The Green is Gold campaign currently is focusing on a visible energy conservation project on campus to replace existing exit signs with energy saving LED exit signs. The LED lights use between two and five watts of energy per sign compared to the 20 to 40 watts needed for traditional exit signs. This project is expected to save roughly $12,000 per year in reduced electric costs.

Another, less visible energy project is the installation of a steam turbine electric generator at the university’s District Heating Plant. Currently, the energy required to reduce the steam from a production pressure of 120 pounds per square inch to a distribution pressure of 60 pounds per square inch is not recovered. The turbine will capture this energy and use it to produce electricity. This project is estimated to save $200,000 per year in electric costs to the university.      

The Green is Gold campaign provided a new opportunity during the 2004/2005 school year for on-campus residents to choose purchasing wind power for their residence hall room or apartment for electric use. Not only is wind power available the first time for Colorado State University students, according to Western Resources Advocates, but Colorado State is the first university in the nation to allow on-campus residents the choice of wind energy.

At an additional cost of $17 per school year for a residence hall or $52 per school year for an apartment, 100 percent of residents’ energy will come from wind energy. Typically a student living in a residence hall uses about 1,600 kilowatt-hours of electricity during their nine-month stay. With all of that energy coming from wind energy, 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions will be taken out of the atmosphere each year. Currently, 148 residence hall students and nine apartment residents have signed up for wind power, which equates to a reduction of nearly 235,500 pounds of carbon dioxide.  

The wind power initiative was developed by Colorado State students, staff and faculty as well as City of Fort Collins Utilities Wind Power Program staff and members of the community. The success of the initiative was due primarily to the dedicated effort of the students who were committed to the idea of bringing wind power to Colorado State.  

The Green is Gold campaign designed posters in the fall of 2004 depicting the yearly cost of all utilities for individual campus buildings and placed them in all of the buildings on campus.  The posters itemize the yearly electric use in kilowatt hours and water use in gallons to create awareness of the building utility consumptions and costs. The new awareness of energy concerns is aimed to change individual behavior to make efforts at conserving energy and water, such as taking the time to turn the lights off in an empty classroom or to report a leaky faucet or toilet.

Residence hall comments should be directed to (970) 491-7171. Suggestions and comments for other campus buildings should be directed to Facilities Management at (970) 491-0077.