A Few of our Sustainability Initiatives…


Our Promise

We commit to being responsible stewards, actively engaging our students, guests, and staff in sustainable practices and programs that preserve the environment, are socially just, and are fiscally sound.

Climate Action Sub-Plan

Green Dining

  • Dining services is always striving to increase local and or third party verified goods in the Dining Centers
  • Used cooking oil from all of the dining centers is collected and recycled to make biodiesel
  • Dining centers divert 93% of food waste from the landfill through composting and waste to energy programs
  • Leftover food from the dining centers is donated to the Larimer County Food Bank

Green Buildings

  • Housing & Dining Services is committed to increasing water efficiency, conserving energy, managing waste, reusing materials and LEED Certified Building (a voluntary, consensus-based, market¬-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings)
  • The Pavilion at Laurel Village is the fist building on the main CSU campus to pursue LEED Platinum certification. Alpine and Piñon halls are pursuing LEED Gold Certification
  • In 2014 Summit Hall was the first building at CSU to be certified Gold LEED EBOM (Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance)The Durrell Center remodel in 2013 achieved a LEED Gold Commercial Interiors certification
  • In 2009 Aspen hall opened with a LEED Gold certification. Learn more about Aspen’s green features

Green Power

  • In 2014 a 100 KW solar array was installed on Braiden Hall and an array planned on Parmelee in 2015.
  • Aspen hall is powered by an energy–efficient thermal plant. The plant reduces energy demand by making ice at night when electric rates are lowest and then reverses the process during the day to melt the ice and cool the building. The other half of the system is a solar array.
  • Renewable electricity is purchased through renewable energy credits for all public spaces in Housing & Dining Services on an annual bases. This adds up to over 3 million KWH of green power being generated for the department.

Sustainability Reports

2018 Sustainability Report

Composting Program

Housing & Dining Services has invested in a state of the art, fully-automated composting system called the Earth Flow. This enclosed, 30-yard capacity compost bin is located on the CSU Foothills Campus (three miles west of main campus). Pre- and post-consumer food waste from CSU Dining Centers is composted in the Earth Flow. The program is in its sixth year and last year diverted 181,248 pounds of food waste. Materials produced were used by the student farm, community non-profit organizations and as soil amendment for the new Laurel Village complex.

Dining Center Pulpers

  • Ram’s Horn, Braiden, and Durrell Center Dining Centers have pulpers in their kitchens.
  • The pulpers mix all of the food and paper waste with water, and then grind up the material. This slurry is then taken by pipe to a centrifuge, which removes excess water and recycles it through the system. The pulped organic waste is emptied into collection containers.
  • The pulpers have helped reduce the waste stream volume by 70 percent and water consumption by 80 percent in the dining centers.

Earth Flow Living Lab

  • The Earth Flow in-vessel composting system, located on the CSU Foothills Campus, accepts 2,000 pounds of material per day.
  • The system operates as a living lab with student interns from Soil & Crop Sciences loading materials, taking measurements, and making recommendations for recipe and operational improvements. A faculty adviser in the College of Agriculture serves as a member of the Compost Team and selects the intern each semester. The Compost Operator provides hands-on instruction on site and the Assistant Director of Sustainability for Housing & Dining Services supervises the interns.
  • Organic waste is loaded into one end of the vessel by placing the collection container on an automated tipper. Every time food waste is added, bulking material like straw, wood chips, and horse manure from the Equine Center is added at a 1:2 ratio.
  • Material is composted for about three weeks inside the bin. Finished compost is discharged through an end door of the vessel. The compost is piled on site to cure for at least 3-4 weeks before being used in landscaping projects on campus.

For more detailed information about how the Earth Flow system works, download our Composting Fact Sheet (PDF).

Windrow Composting Partnership

  • In 2017, Housing and Dining Services partnered with CSU facilities management to compost all pulped food waste from the Dining Centers in their new windrow composting facility. This new program will not only compost HDS pulped food waste but materials from the LSC, stadium, and academic department. The HDS Earth Flow system will run side by side with the windrow facility. The funds to launch the windrow operation were provided by the University Facility Fee Advisory Board.

Zero Waste Sorting Guide


Metals & Glass, Cardboard & Paper (no neon), Plastic Bottles, Tubs, and Paper Cartons; No plastic bags
See the City of Fort Collins recycling guide for more information.


Containers, coffee cups, and utensils labeled COMPOSTABLE; Food scraps including coffee grounds, egg shells, dairy, and meat (no bones); Paper plates, napkins and cups (not wax-lined); Tea bags (no staple) and brown paper bags (grease is OK)

Specialty Items

  • Batteries, lightbulbs, ink cartridges: Deposit used these in the Techno Trash bins that are located in the lobbies of the apartments and residence halls and we will recycle them. (to be added to current specialty items)
  • Paint: Call Environmental Health Services at (970) 491-6746.
  • Refrigerators, microwaves, electrical equipment (computers, monitors, TVs): Call CSU Surplus at (970) 491-1199.
  • Styrofoam peanuts, pallets/wood, laser printer cartridges, fluorescent tubes: Call Facilities Management Integrated Solid Waste at (970) 491-0113.


Plastic bags, Styrofoam, wax-lined cups, cellophane, straws, most individually wrapped food items such as individual coffee creamers and potato chip bags

To help educate students on campus on what can and cannot be recycled, Housing & Dining Services developed the zero waste sorting game (or leave as recycling game if it’s too late to change). 91% of students agree the game will help them to continue to sort waste materials properly.

Eco Leaders Program

Eco Leaders are peer educators in the residence halls and Aggie Village apartments who help raise awareness about sustainability issues and encourage environmentally-responsible behaviors throughout the academic year. There is one Eco Leader per residence hall and several at Aggie Village who engages campus residents in sustainability areas such as waste reduction, energy conservation, sustainable transportation, and recycling and composting. The Eco Leader program in the halls also has an academic component with a mandatory class each Thursday from 4pm-5:15pm. Eco Leaders earn credits for the course and receive a housing stipend for their engagement efforts.

Green Dining

Local and Organic Foods

Dining services is always striving to increase local and or third party verified goods in the Dining Centers. Current Colorado Proud products include milk, eggs and dairy products, breads, meats, sauces, pasta, and seasonal produce when available. All hand fruit in the Dining Centers is organic or when available local. This includes apples, oranges, bananas, and pears. For the first time ever greens, grown on campus are being served in the Dining Centers. These greens are easy to identify because of their “on campus grown” labeling.
Dining Services is proud to provide options for customers with special dietary needs and provides vegetarian and vegan-friendly choices at each meal. For further details on nutritional information, please view the dining menus.

Trayless Dining

RDS utilizes tray less dining, which in turn is estimated to reduce plate waste by 40 percent through this program. On average students produce less than half a cup of food waste per meal. Food waste production per student has been determined by the plate waste audits which are conducted each semester as a way to educate students on plate waste and provide benchmark data.

Donations to Larimer County Food Bank

Leftover, unserved food from the dining centers is donated to the Larimer County Food Bank. In 2016, more than 116,308 pounds of food was donated by the dining centers and Mountain Campus. Non-perishable food donations are also collected from students as part of the Leave it Behind program at the end of the academic year to be donated to the food bank.

Green Dining Center

Durrell Dining Center is housed in a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) commercial interior gold level certified building. The dining center features natural day lighting, energy star appliances, sustainable materials featured in displays and seating, and green practices in building construction.

Green To-Go Containers

Dining Services has eliminated Styrofoam from all dining centers, switching to compostable to-go containers. This move eliminates 353,600 Styrofoam containers from the landfill per year. Access to compostable collection sites can be found in all Dining Centers. Students also have the choice to select reusable to-go containers that can be used and returned for washing to further eliminate waste. To reduce disposable cup waste, all students with a meal plan are given a reusable water bottle at the beginning of the year that can be used in the dining centers.


Braiden, Ram’s Horn, and Durrell Dining Centers have installed pulpers to collect food and paper waste from the dining centers. Through both pre and post-consumer food waste diversion efforts Dining Centers operated by HDS have a 93% diversion rate of food waste from the landfill.

Recycled Cooking Oil

Used cooking oil from all of the dining centers is collected and recycled to make biodiesel. Dining Services partners with a local company that collected 27,385 pounds of cooking oil in 2016.

Education and Outreach

Dining Services actively engages students in sustainability initiatives through special events in the dining centers, student employment opportunities, and student leadership groups like DIG (Dining Insight Group) and Eco Leaders.

Each semester Housing & Dining Services hires a graduate sustainability intern, sustainability intern, compost intern, and horticultural intern. These internships provide undergraduate students with a hands-on experiential learning opportunity and valuable professional skill development.

Green Guard

Each dining center has a staff representative who serves on the Green Guard, a staff peer education group aimed at reducing the overall footprint of Dining Services. The Green Guard has been on site visits to Waste Management’s central receiving center in Denver and on campus green sites such as the solar plant, biomass boiler, and composter to help them be more educated leaders for dining services.

Rams Against Hunger: Food Recovery

This program is intended to support members of the campus community who are experiencing food insecurity while also reducing waste by making food left over from Housing & Dining Services catered events available for pick up. Catering by Housing & Dining Services sends text alerts when events have leftover food, which includes time and location information as well as a brief description of what is available.

Live Green Team

The Live Green Team, sponsored by Housing & Dining Services, consists of student and staff volunteers who want to make a difference and are taking environmental action.

  • Meetings are held once a month in the Laurel Village Pavilion conference room on the second Friday of each month.

Live Green Team Supported Programs

Recycling and Reuse Programs

  • Cardboard Corrals: During Move in each year, the Live Green Team sets up “cardboard corrals” to collect cardboard boxes and packaging for recycling. Volunteers help students and parents break down boxes and divert recyclables from the trash bins. For the first time ever the corral locations collected both Styrofoam and plastic thin film.
  • Leave It Behind: Each year during finals week, the Live Green Team pairs up with Surplus property to collect any unwanted goods from students that would otherwise end up in the landfill. This includes electronics, clothing, household goods, small appliances, and everything else under the sun. Last year the Leave it Behind program diverted 34,427 pounds of materials from the landfill. Collected goods are then sorted and resold at discount through the community tent sale. Any revenue from the sale goes towards the Eco Leader program.
  • RecycleMania

Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation

Outreach and Events

  • Earth Week
  • Waste Audit: To create awareness of RecycleMania, a trash audit is conducted on campus each spring. The 2017 waste audit discovered 95% of the recycling stream was made up of recyclables. This is the highest percentage to date for Housing and Dining Services.
  • Green Walking Tour

Interested in joining? Contact Kirstie Tedrick at or call (970) 491-1768

Living Green On Campus

Alternative Transportation

  • Bring a bike to campus – CSU and Fort Collins are very bike friendly. In fact over 80% of students living in the residence halls bring their bikes to campus. Register your bike with CSUPD and check out campus bike info and the CSU Bike Library
  • Ride the bus – your RamCard student ID is your free pass on the Transfort bus system, the CSU shuttle, Around the Horn, and MAX
  • Zipcar – a car sharing service, is now available at CSU. Please visit the ZipCar website for pricing and more information on the program.
  • Carpool
  • CSU Bicycle Rental service offers year long rentals with included maintenance for CSU Students, Faculty & Staff.
  • PACE offers flexible bicycle rental locations around Fort Collins. Discounts for students, pay per ride or monthly for unlimited rides.

Energy & Resource Conservation

  • Check out the Interactive Green Room to learn simple tips for making your residence hall room more eco-friendly
  • Turn off lights and electronics when you leave your room
  • Take shorter showers to conserve water
  • Never leave the water running while brushing your teeth
  • Buy Energy Star appliances and electronics (computers, laptops, microfridges, lamps, etc.)
  • Recycle
  • Unplug laptop and cell phone charges from the wall when not in use to help prevent phantom energy loads.

Get Involved

S.T.A.R.S. Platinum

Colorado State has a long history as one of the nation’s most sustainable universities, but now CSU for the second time has achieved a STARS platinum rating.

CSU has achieved platinum status – the highest possible – under the STARS rating system, an independent program that measures comprehensive sustainability efforts at more than 700 universities across the globe.

STARS stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, and it is a program conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. It is considered the most comprehensive and prestigious sustainability performance measurement program in higher education.

View the full story at

Sustainable Buildings

Completed LEED Buildings

The Pavilion - LEED Platinum
The Pavilion - LEED Platinum

The Pavilion, located in the center of the Laurel Village, is the first building at CSU to be certified LEED PLATINUM new construction by the United States Green Building Council.

The Pavilion features a passive ventilating system called a katabatic tower, a green slope to reduce heat island effect, an interior green wall, recycled and regional materials, bike room, Eco Leaders office space, and much more!

View the LEED Checklist

Durrell Center
Durrell Center

The Durrell Center is a LEED Gold commercial interior certified building

Durrell features solar tubes, high efficiency dishwashers, access to alternative transportation, reuse of existing structural materials, use of recycled and regional materials, installation of food waste pulpers, solar ready roof, and LED cabinets and coolers

Academic Village - Aspen Hall
Academic Village - Aspen Hall

Aspen Hall has been certified as a LEED GOLD new construction building, by the United States Green Building Council

Contains a thermal plant that cools the building by generating ice at night (when electricity rates are low) and melting that ice during the day

The thermal plant features solar panels that since its original installation have produced over 81 megawatts of renewable energy

Summit Hall/Laurel Village
Summit Hall/Laurel Village

Summit Hall

Summit Hall is the first building at CSU to achieve a LEED for existing buildings and operation maintenance certification

To achieve this Gold certification, Summit Hall purchased e-clothes (which help reduce chemicals used in the building for cleaning), implemented a purchasing policy, provided green cleaning training for environment services staff, and installed aerators that help decrease water consumption

Laurel Village

Pinon and Alpine Hall are certified LEED Gold buildings

The complex, which was completed Fall 2014, features local stone, recycled materials, low VOC paints, and access to alternative transportation

Sustainable Renovations

Solar Arrays

  • Braiden, Edwards, and Parmelee have solar arrays that produce 300kW of renewable electricity each year
  • The arrays were installed through a partnership with The Atmospheric Conservancy, City of Fort Collins, and Colorado State University

Braiden and Parmelee 4th floor Renovations

  • This project reused 98% of the existing structure in the renovation, giving these older residence halls an updated look without generating added waste
  • A high efficiency heating and cooling system will be installed as part of the renovation, as well as, higher rated insulation (R-25) and more energy efficient windows to lower operating and utility cost
  • Xeriscaping and additional bike racks will be added to promote alternative transportation
  • In the summer of 2014 Braiden Hall was equipped with its own on site solar. The solar will provide 100 kwh worth of energy for the building

Edwards and Ingersoll Exterior Renovations

  • In 2010, Edwards and Ingersoll halls were given an exterior retrofit
  • This included new exterior walls, windows, and energy efficient insulation, which increased the energy efficiency of the building by 300%
  • Steam heat costs in both halls were reduced by over 50% during the first three months after renovations (equivalent to $20,000 per building over the three-month period

Ultra Low Flow Shower Heads

  • A total of 731 ultra-flow showerheads were installed July 31st, 2011 in Braiden, Parmelee, Corbett, and Summit halls, and in South Aggie Apartments
  • The calculated water savings on an annual basis is 2.3M gallons of water, resulting in an annual savings of $10,300 in water/wastewater costs and another $13,482 in avoided fuel costs