CU-Boulder honors sustainability successes

By Staff

The 2013 winners of the CU-Boulder’s Campus Sustainability Awards program, which was established in 1997 to recognize outstanding individuals and departments demonstrating strong commitments to reducing the campus’ impact on the environment, were celebrated during a recent ceremony.

The 2013 campus sustainability awardees are:

James Balog, Outstanding Alumni -- Balog has been a leader in photographing, understanding and interpreting the natural environment for three decades. The CU-Boulder alumnus founded the Extreme Ice Survey and recently brought worldwide attention to climate change through his Oscar-nominated documentary called Chasing Ice. He’s the author of seven books, provides a variety of outreach and develops high school and college-level curricula.

Robert Dixon, Individual Achievement- - Dixon, the director of information technology for Housing & Dining Services -- one of the largest computerized units on campus -- created and implemented a virtual desktop infrastructure. It includes circuit board hardware that links directly to servers, cutting out the need for and replacing 500 workstation computers. Dixon and his team’s solutions have reduced electricity costs by $30,000 per year. The system also has reduced costs for equipment manufacturing, purchases, shipping and disposal while providing a more mobile and efficient work environment for staff.

Facilities Management Custodial Services, Departmental Achievement -- Custodial crews helped pilot and establish a program to collect compostable waste from building restrooms. While grant funding was provided for startup costs such as bins and liners, the crews’ additional labor -- emptying the bins daily and taking the compostable waste to loading docks -- was not funded. Crews met the program implementation with creative solutions for a cost-effective, efficient and equitable system. Collections of compostables from campus restrooms has expanded from including three to including six buildings with plans in the works for more sites.

William Franz, Individual Achievement -- Franz, IT manager for the ecology and evolutionary biology department, sought and acquired more efficient computers that were being cycled out by other departments on campus. The efforts resulted in significant energy savings and upgraded equipment for EBIO with little to no cost. Franz and his student team also adjusted settings on computers and printers throughout the department, rendering them more efficient, and replaced computer monitors with energy efficient flat screens. The project, implemented since last summer and involving hundreds of computers, has reduced electricity use by 85 percent for classroom computers and up to 70 percent for lab computers.

Housing & Dining Services, Partnership for Sustainability -- A team of staff members innovated an alternate way to hydrate thousands at the annual Global Jam welcome event for new students. They created mobile hydration stations to provide cool filtered water to attendees. The team used a trailer that already was in stock and constructed the remaining pieces from existing stainless steel countertops, adding the necessary plumbing. An estimated 40 percent less bottled water was required at the event, as participants were able to fill their own reusable containers or use compostable cups at the hydration stations.

Paul Komor, Green Faculty -- Komor, the energy education director at the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, or RASEI, and an environmental studies lecturer, has helped establish CU-Boulder as a leader in energy education. Paul leads a research program in renewable electricity policy. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in energy technology and policy. Many of the students who’ve gone through the programs created by Komor have gone on to lead energy efforts locally and nationally. Without Komor’s efforts, there may not be the comprehensive programming in place today for energy studies at CU-Boulder.

Graham Meriwether, Outstanding Alumni -- In 2010, Meriwether founded the Leave It Better foundation, whose mission is to empower youth to heal the environment. Leave It Better has helped build 10 gardens in schools in New York City and has taught more than 2,000 students how to compost, plant and harvest, in partnership with the Kids Community Garden in the Bronx. Graham also directed American Meat, a pro-farmer documentary looking at chicken, hog and cattle production in America. Screening the film at campuses nationwide, Meriwether has focused on holding community discussions and engaging students in the issues.

Shimshon Rapaport, Student Achievement -- Rapaport, a mathematics student, created The Reusable Scrap Paper Project. The program collects misprints, excess and recyclable paper, and supplies help desks across campus as well as departments that can use the reclaimed material, for printing on the blank side, for example. The project has implemented the reuse of approximately 1,500 pounds of paper since March of 2011. Rapaport has volunteered countless hours on a weekly basis to make the program a success, from coordinating with various departments, to sorting and weighing paper and transporting it across campus.

Special recognition certificates were awarded to: Facilities Management Meridian Implementation Team, Departmental Achievement; Trade Services, Facilities Operations, Departmental Achievement; Gary Sheets, Individual Achievement; and T. Pepper Clayton, Individual Achievement.

For more information about this year’s recipients and the Campus Sustainability Awards visit