The Student Body’s Role in Making CC Carbon Neutral


“Where did you go for block break?” This is an all too familiar question heard across campus during the first few days of each block. A question not often heard “How much carbon did you generate this block break?” 

The Colorado College Office of Sustainability is trying to get more students to ask themselves that question once they return from break, now with the help of the new Travel Offset Calculator. Located within the Office of Sustainability’s page on the CC website, the calculator aims to help students calculate how much carbon they generate during trips that use cars or planes.  

In addition to calculating the amount of carbon generated during a trip to King Soopers or a flight home, the tool also calculates the cost to offset your trip’s carbon production. For example, a car ride from Colorado Springs to Crested Butte and back would generate 0.12 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivilent. The cost to offset this trip would be a whopping $0.60. 


But let’s back this up. What exactly is carbon offsetting and why would you want to support it on CC’s campus? Carbon offsetting is a process that reduces carbon emissions in one place to compensate for emissions somewhere else. By buying carbon offsets, you fund an effort to effectively neutralize the amount of carbon you generated during your day to day life. 

The Office of Sustainability’s calculator tool not only allows you to calculate the amount of carbon produced and the cost to offset it, but also allows you to buy offsets directly from CC. According to the Office of Sustainability’s website, student’s travel offsets will go toward landfill gas destruction projects in Colorado, Utah, and Oklahoma. 

The Office of Sustainability also reports that most Colorado College students travel off campus multiple times a year, whether it be a ski trip to Breckenridge, a class trip to Baca, or a block abroad to Costa Rica. The number of students traveling off campus is increasing, which also means that there is an increase in carbon emissions. That increase in emissions works against the college’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020, which is one of the reasons why the Office of Sustainability introduced the Travel Offset Calculator. 

Director of Sustainability Ian Johnson hopes the Travel Offset Calculator will engage more students in learning about their carbon emissions, while also helping the College neutralize its carbon emissions. He said this is just one more step in making the college a more sustainable campus, among other initiatives such as making the new Robson Hockey Arena carbon neutral like the Tutt Library and Spencer Center. 

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