Campus to celebrate 40th anniversary of CU Environmental Center

By Staff

Amid an extensive lineup of Earth Day events at the University of Colorado at Boulder through April 25, the campus will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Environmental Center, founded by students as the "Eco-Center" on the inaugural Earth Day in 1970.

The CU Environmental Center was the first of its kind in the nation and has helped shape CU-Boulder as a green leader among U.S. colleges and universities. For four decades it has provided education on environmental issues, leadership opportunities for students and the development of many sustainable campus operations such as the nation's first student-led recycling program started in 1976.

With the support of the Environmental Center, CU-Boulder students in 1991 became the nation's first to negotiate prepaid bus passes for all students. In 2000, students also were the nation's first to vote for the purchase of wind energy credits. Students have been key in planning and staffing countless environmental events and programs such as the annual Bioneers conference, the Bike Station, Ralphie's Green Stampede zero-waste program at Folsom Field, and "Green Teams" that offer recycling outreach.

"The Environmental Center has been a leader for 40 years in making CU-Boulder a national and global role model for campus sustainability," said Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. "The students' foresight and entrepreneurship has been contagious across our university community and they have engrained an ethos of sustainability that has become second nature on our campus. The Environmental Center has created a legacy that campus community members – past, present and future – can take pride in and will live up to."

The Environmental Center also has served as a resource for CU-Boulder's administration through initiatives such as issuing the Blueprint for a Green Campus in 2000, becoming a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007 and creating CU-Boulder's Conceptual Plan for Carbon Neutrality, launched in 2009.

"The students' legacy of leadership on sustainability issues has made the Environmental Center the nation's most experienced, most accomplished and most successful program of its kind," said Dave Newport, director of the CU Environmental Center. "Going forward, we are entering a new era of broad-based cooperation and leadership from all campus organizations that will again show the world how sustainability can be embedded into all facets of campus life, operations and academics. We are beginning to see the total culture shift on this campus that colleges around the world are seeking to emulate, but CU will lead."

An art installation at the southwest corner of the University Memorial Center fountain area commemorating CU-Boulder's commitment to the environment and sustainability will be dedicated at noon April 22, Earth Day. The work, commissioned by the CU-Boulder student government and created by local artist Bruce Campbell, uses material salvaged from the 2008 demolition of the Sibell Wolle Fine Arts Building.

Other Earth Day events will include several showings of "Planet Earth," April 12-16 at the Fiske Planetarium and Science Center; a screening and panel discussion of the new Public Broadcasting Service film "Earth Days," April 15; an Earth Fest on the Norlin Quadrangle featuring numerous events and displays, April 22; and more.

"CU-Boulder, which has created a national model in transportation and recycling and energy, has been able to achieve so much because there's been the Environmental Center there to provide structure and support to student leadership," said Boulder County Commissioner Will Toor, who was the director of the Environmental Center from 1992 to 2005. "It's wonderful to see the Environmental Center reach its 40th birthday and I look forward to seeing the wonderful things it's going to do before its 50th."

For more information on the history of the CU Environmental Center and a schedule of CU-Boulder Earth Day events visit