Colorado State University to Be Carbon Neutral by 2020, President Larry Edward Penley Says

Note to Editors: Print-quality photos, video and downloadable audio clips on the speech will be available at no later than 4 p.m. Thursday.

Colorado State University aims to be carbon neutral – reducing its greenhouse gas emissions through conservation and alternative energy sources – by 2020, President Larry Edward Penley said in his annual Fall Address Thursday.

The goal is part of Colorado State’s leadership as the "Green University" where students, faculty and staff serve as a role model for environmental stewardship, develop programs to train the growing green workforce, and create alternative energy solutions that directly help to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems.

The university expects to find significant cost savings through additional conservation strategies, Penley said. Those efforts will begin with a comprehensive assessment of the university’s carbon footprint, already underway. The assessment will include a commuter survey posted today at and a greenhouse gas inventory.

"A premier research university is committed to the ideal that educated and motivated people can make a difference in the world, and CSU is the Green University, leading the way in research, education and practice associated with sustainable energy and the environment," said Penley, who celebrated his fifth year as president of Colorado State in August. "We expect our graduates to be active, responsible citizens."

Penley said the goal of carbon neutrality will be achievable through a phased process that will begin with a more aggressive emphasis on conservation for the first three years. These expanded conservation efforts are expected to result in cost savings that will be redeployed to help fund the adoption of renewable energy technologies.

"I will be charging a team, through my office, that will lead the implementation of a plan to get CSU to carbon neutrality by 2020," Penley said. "But let me state directly that this plan cannot and will not be one that relies on purchasing carbon credits from others as a PR gimmick. Our goal is energy independence."

Colorado State is gaining international attention for its commitments to energy-related issues and the environment:

-In March, the university created the Clean Energy Supercluster, a new effort to speed technological renewable and clean energy innovations to the marketplace.

-In July, the university announced a new School of Global Environmental Sustainability, which brings all environmental courses across campus under one umbrella to ensure that students are properly prepared for careers in the emerging green workforce. An example of this multidisciplinary effort is a recent $3 million award by the National Science Foundation to train the next generation of scientists in the increasingly complex area of biofuels. The grant will support up to 45 doctoral students in everything from environmental assessment (greenhouse gas impacts) to fuel engineering and plant biotechnology.

-In August, Newsweek magazine identified the university as an example of one of the greenest universities in the country.

-Last week, the university’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory received international attention with the 2008 Royal Award for Sustainable Technology Transfer from the nations of Denmark and Spain for technological innovations that led to new commercial clean energy products.

The last five years of Penley’s tenure at Colorado State have included other significant milestones such as record fundraising and annual research expenditures, but Penley urged the campus community not to rest on its laurels.

"In the next five years, we must realize the promised role of the 21st century land-grant university that educates students of character who can succeed in a global economy, that drives practical, affordable solutions to the great global challenges of our age, that makes its knowledge available through its outreach and that models access and accountability, creating opportunities for students from all walks of life, and assuring them a high-quality educational experience," Penley said.

In his address, Penley also noted some major successes of the university during his five-year tenure. Highlights include:

-completion of the first new residence halls in 40 years, including the innovative Academic Village;

-opening of a new Biocontainment Laboratory on the Foothills Campus;

-completion of the University Center for the Arts;

-bringing the computer science department back onto campus in a new building set to open in January;

-87 new faculty lines, an 18 percent increase in ethnic minority faculty, and a 19 percent increase in female faculty

-51 percent growth in annual research expenditures, now topping $302 million

-one of the top fundraising years in the university’s history – $79.5 million in fiscal year 2008;

-77 percent growth in total invested assets;

-record freshman classes three years in a row boosting CSU’s enrollment to more than 25,000 students; and

-a 13.5 percent increase in enrollment of ethnically diverse students in the past five years.