By Catherine Crow and Susan Campbell, CO Springs CCL chapter
At times, the road to a clean energy future may seem a long, hard one, but it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate that we have made good progress on that road, and that remarkable change is occurring across Colorado. This past August, CSU Pueblo became the first university campus in the state of Colorado to reach net zero efficiency, marking an important step towards achieving Governor Polis’ greener government goals.
To reach this milestone, CSU Pueblo combined a campus-wide energy savings program with a new solar array and rechargeable battery system on 22 acres of land on the north end of the campus. The project involved an innovative partnership between the University and the energy and technology companies Black Hills Energy, Johnson Controls, and Capital Dynamics. CSU President Timothy Mottet responded to this achievement declaring, “Today marks a celebration of the signed agreement to bring solar power to the CSU-Pueblo campus as a primary source of electricity. This is a testament to … the university’s commitment to the guiding principles of Vision 2028 to live sustainably and engage place.”
To put the climate impact into perspective, the amount of CO2 emissions avoided due to the solar array project is roughly equivalent to the CO2 that would be absorbed by a forest the size of the CSU Pueblo campus.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the new renewable energy source lowers tuition costs for students attending the university.
Strongly supported by Gov. Polis and the Colorado Energy Office, this project is an inspiring example of how large institutions with significant energy needs can reach net zero efficiency.
The project also advances, and can be viewed in the context of, a larger initiative by the city and county of Pueblo, to become a center of renewable energy in Colorado. This past summer saw the groundbreaking on expansion of Pueblo’s steel plant, owned by EVRAZ, to fabricate long rail using solar power. In addition, Pueblo’s wind tower plant, now owned by the South Korean company CS Wind, plans an expansion to include fabrication of offshore and onshore wind towers, responding to a global market.