Sustainability-driven Colorado University bags 11th LEED Platinum award

University of Colorado Boulder is famous for its commitment to sustainability.

By U2B Staff 

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Sustainability is embedded at the very heart of the University of Colorado Boulder’s (CU Boulder) campus life and something that is deeply important to both students and faculty alike.

Many may think this isn’t too unusual these days, after all, sustainability has become a major concern for not just universities but any large organisation, many of whom are rethinking how they approach energy and waste.

But CU Boulder is putting its money where its mouth is. In 2005, students voted to dedicate a portion of student fees to implement on-campus projects to boost the campus’s sustainability credentials. Funds have gone towards incorporating renewable energy, energy efficiency, recycling and waste reduction, and other innovative projects to reduce the university’s impact on climate and environment.

The University of Colorado Boulder Campus has 11 LEED Platinum buildings.

After 14 years of putting that money into the appropriate infrastructure has certainly paid off.

CU Boulder has just been awarded its eleventh Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum award for its university dining facility.

The Village Center Dining and Community Commons is a veritable smorgasbord of cutting-edge sustainable features. All of them add up to make the facility a truly unique place to be; after all, there are not many dining halls have a bicycle-powered smoothie station, an aeroponic garden, and electrochromic glass.


But it takes far more than that to bag one of the globally recognised symbol of excellence in green building. A building has to demonstrate exactly how it is designed to ensure energy cost savings, lower carbon emissions and healthy work environments. Some key features of the Village Center Dining and Community Commons include:

  • 140.5-kilowatt solar array offsets 16 percent of the building’s annual energy cost.
  • A biodigester used to treat food waste, which creates an eco-friendly product that can be safely added to the wastewater system and reduces food composting collection costs.
  • 3,000 sq foot aeroponic garden supplies the dining centre with fresh salad greens, reducing the need for packing and transporting food from outside farms.
  • 31 percent of building materials are recycled and 48 percent were manufactured and extracted from within 500 miles of the project site.
  • About 40 percent of dining room chairs made completely of recycled plastic material.
University of Colorado Boulder is known for its commitment to sustainability.

The team behind the award-winning building was Group14 Engineering who acted as consultant on all sustainability and energy design.

“Working with CU Boulder always allows us the opportunity to be truly collaborative and innovative when it comes to sustainable design practices and this project exemplified an integrative design process,” said Group14’s Lauren McNeill.

“CU’s achievement of another LEED Platinum building is a testament to their hard work and dedication to their staff, students, future generations and the environment.”