Approaching Sustainability

We are always looking for ways to improve our facilities, educate our students and staff, and ensure that we are creating an environmentally and socially responsible living environment on campus. We hope you will join us in making our residence halls as sustainable as possible. Contact to get involved!

Sustainability Value Statement

We, the students, staff, and community members of the Housing and Residential Education Department of the University of Denver, recognize the critical importance of sustainability. We commit to environmental, social, and economic sustainability by pledging to "meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs" (Brundtland, 1987). We, as agents of change, will reduce our environmental impact through activism, empowerment, collaboration, and educational programming. In doing so, we view equality, diversity, and social justice as essential components of sustainability. We will work to engage all residents and staff to actively participate in sustainable practices to be leaders in stewardship as global citizens serving the public good.

Educational Initiatives

Our big project for the end of the year is "When You Move Out, Don't Throw it Out." Each year, students leave tons (literally tons) of items when they move out of the residence halls. We collect those items to donate to a variety of non-profit organizations.

Facilities Improvements

  • Energy Star Certification of Johnson-McFarlane Hall
  • Motion Sensor Lights
  • Bottle Filling Stations
  • Bulb Exchanges
  • Energy Assessments
  • Environmentally Friendly Carpeting
  • Low-Flow Shower Heads
  • Faucet Aerators
  • Window Replacements

Our department is committed to taking action on sustainability issues. We sponsor numerous programs to increase awareness of and educate our community about, the importance of sustainability.

Educational Initiatives


    Every February, students in the residence halls are invited to take a pledge to reduce their personal energy usage. The Center for Sustainability hosts a full schedule of events to get students out of their rooms and doing activities that will help them reach their energy conservation goals and win prizes. The more events you attend, the more chances you have to win some awesome swag.


    Do you have stuff you don't want to bring home with you at the end of the year? Give it a second life and donate it to the Center for Sustainability collection instead of throwing it in the dumpster. The Move-Out Donation Drive is one of several Center Waste Programs. The items are kept over the summer and then sold to incoming students at a deeply discounted rate.

    About to move to campus? Don't run to Target or IKEA to furnish your space. Check out the Thrift Store during Orientation instead. Find some great items for far cheaper than the stores sell them, and know that you are helping the environment by reusing gently used items instead of buying new ones.


    EcoReps is a program for first- and second-year students who are passionate about the environment and sustainability and want to make a change on campus through their residence halls. The students in the program receive training, resources, and support from the Center for Sustainability, their RA, and their RDs for programs, plus a resume booster for applications to become an RA with HRE or an intern at the Center for Sustainability. Students will come away from the program with a cohort of friends from across campus, a solid understanding of basic sustainability content areas, and a new set of professional and program management skills. Email Emily at the Center for Sustainability with questions, for more information about the program, and how to apply.


    Food waste is a very important issue to DU and our food service provider, Sodexo. In order to better understand the food that gets wasted in the dining halls, Sodexo hosts periodic "Weigh the Waste" events where students sort their own food waste and provide information about why they did not finish their food. Our hope is that we can get our food waste down to nearly nothing on a daily basis because everyone only takes what they actually can and want to eat.


    Housing & Residential Education has been working with the Center for Sustainability and Facilities to place a waste tri-bin in the lobby of every residence hall. These bins accept compost, recycling, and landfill waste, which will allow students to compost food waste and compostable to-go containers from Nagel Dining Hall and on-campus cafes, as well as food waste from their rooms and common spaces.


    Every residence hall at DU has a station that allows students to recycle unusual items like batteries, printer cartridges, and small electronics (like cell phones, iPods, and other small items - please no computers!), so they don't go to the landfill.

    Is your lobby bin full? Let the Center for Sustainability know! Email, and they will empty it.


    Want to make your room as sustainable as possible? Participate in the Center for Sustainability's Green Room Certification program. This program provides and online checklist of many actions you and your roommate(s) can take to reduce your ecological footprint in the residence halls. It can often fell like you don't have a lot of control over your living situation when you are living in the residence halls, but this is far from the truth - there is a lot that you can do every day to bring DU closer to its sustainability goals!


    Did you know that many students and staff at DU and other universities are food insecure? That means that they are unable to purchase enough food to feed themselves and their families every day. To help alleviate this issue, the DU Food Pantry is open to all members of the DU Community. The food is free to those who say they need it, and is intended to supplement the food that people are able to get through other means. The Food Pantry has drop-in hours every Tuesday from 4 - 8 PM, and is also available by request. Please email if you would like to set an appointment to use the food pantry or if you would like to donate food for others to eat.


    Since the fall of 2009, we have not used any departmental funds to purchase single-use disposable bottled water. We instead encourage use of reusable containers at our programs, meals, trainings, and other events.

Getting Around Without a Car

The University of Denver offers many options for students who are looking for transportation but either don't have a vehicle, or are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

DU Shuttle

In fall 2019, DU launched a shuttle to take people to key locations around campus. Running frequently between 7 AM and 7 PM Monday - Friday, and picking up riders at multiple stops, the shuttle is an easy way to connect to light rail, parking, and other DU locations. See the Parking Services website for more information about how to download the shuttle app and start riding today.

RTD Student Pass

Every undergraduate student at DU received an RTD student pass that allows you to ride the light rail and buses in and around Denver for free. The light rail is an easy and fast way to get to the Airport, the Convention Center, Union Station, Coors Field, the Pepsi Center, and many other key locations in and nearby Denver. Check out the RTD website for schedules and routes.

DU Bike Shop

The DU Center for Sustainability manages the DU Bike Shop to help the DU community keep their bikes moving. Located in the basement of Nagel Hall (floor M if you're taking the elevator), the Bike Shop offers free service and simple repairs - you only pay for the parts you use. The Bike Shop also offers classes and workshops about basic bike maintenance, cycling rules and etiquette, and instruction on how to ride safely through Denver. 

DU Ski Bus

Want to get up to the mountains to ski or ride, but don't want to sit in the horrible traffic on I-70? Get a spot on the Ski Bus instead! The ski bus is a partnership between DU Alpine Club, USG SusCom, and the Center for Sustainability, and runs trips almost every weekend of the winter quarter. Buses go to rotating locations on the Epic Pass and the IKON Pass and include free breakfast. Check out the Alpine Club website for more information, schedules, and even to pick up your ski pass for the year.


DU works with three different car sharing options that let you rent cars by the minute, hour, or day. This gives you the freedom of using a car when you need one, but saves you the cost of maintenance, gas, insurance, and parking at DU. We have dedicated spots for ZipCar, Enterprise Carshare, and Car2Go, so there is sure to be an option that fits your needs and budget.

Dockless Bike-Share/Scooter-Share

In summer of 2018, the City of Denver opened its roads and sidewalks to dockless bike share, e-bikes, and e-scooters. These are all great options for getting around the city on fast, fun devices. Please note that e-bikes, e-scooters, and other motorized personal transportation options (such as electric skateboards and one-wheelers) are NOT allowed on the brick paths on campus, nor are the public bikes or scooters allowed to be stored or charged on campus or in residence halls.

Sustainable Shopping List

The University of Denver offers many options for students who are looking to live more sustainably. Below are some suggestions on ways you can start incorporating sustainability into your everyday life.

Reusable Shopping Bag: Every student receives a DU Sustainability branded ChicoBag when they check-in for Orientation. You can bring this bag with you when you go shopping at the grocery store, book store, or on-campus C-stores, and avoid taking plastic bags that can't be easily recycled in Colorado.

Water Bottle Refill Stations: Nearly every building on campus is outfitted with filling stations for your reusable water bottle. No need to waste money and create trash by buying plastic water bottles!

Sustainable Food: Each dining hall offers a wide selection of local, organic, plant-based, and otherwise sustainably certified foods. These are well-marked to make it easier than ever to find the most sustainable dining option every day.

Local Food: Want to try your hand at eating more fresh, local foods and take your new dorm kitchen for a spin? GrowHaus, a non-profit dedicated to bringing fresh, local food to areas in North Denver deliver weekly food boxes to the Center for Sustainability. 

Printing: Printers can be expensive and hard to transport and store (and refilling ink cartridges is always a hassle). Luckily, you don't need to buy a printer before coming to Brown. All DU students receive a set amount of free printing credits each year at any almost printer on campus. You can set up your laptop to print straight to any network printer. When you run out of money, you can use Flex Credits on your Pioneer card, which is much easier than trying to figure out how to install printer cartridges. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not you'd like to buy a printer.

Reusable Dishes and Cutlery: Who doesn't keep snacks and extra food in their room for when the dining hall food just becomes too boring or inconvenient? Cut down on your waste by getting yourself a set of reusable plates, bowls, forks, spoons, and knives. Yes, it takes a few extra minutes to do the dishes afterwards (great practice for being a good roommate when you move out of the residence halls!), but that is so much easier than letting grimy plates rot in your trash bin until you finally take the trash out.

Get everything you need at the Orientation Thrift Shop for $1! DON'T steal plates and forks from the dining halls! Stealing isn't cool.

Drying Rack for Clothes: If you've never had to use a laundromat to do laundry, you will quickly learn that it can be a pain. Sometimes the machines are in use when you need them, and paying for washing AND drying can add up. Save time and money by drying your clothes on a drying rack. In the dry Denver weather, your clothes dry in a jiffy, and you've just saved a ton of energy as well! Not to mention your clothes will never shrink! While you're at it, save the colors on your clothes by washing on cold. At DU, that means setting the washing machines to the COLOR washing setting.

Grab a drying rack at the Orientation thrift shop for $5, Target, or Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $10-$20.

LED Light Bulbs: Bringing a desk lamp or other lighting to brighten your room? Make sure to bring LED light bulbs to go with it! LEDs last longer and use less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs while being even more efficient and containing far fewer harmful heavy metals than the "twisty" CFL light bulbs. LEDs are cost-competitive with other options, come in a range of colors and temperatures, and are dimmable! While you're at it, if you're going to get fairy lights, twinkle lights, or any other decorative light strings for your room, make sure they are also LED.

Grab them at Home Depot, Lowes, or Target for about $2 each.

Green Cleaning Supplies: The vast majority of detergents and cleaning supplies, particularly the brand name ones, are not biodegradable. They contain chemicals such as optical brighteners, dyes, artificial fragrances, and a number of other non-natural ingredients. Plant-based detergents are biodegradable and do not have these additives, which means chemicals do not end up in our environment, on your clothes, and on your body.

Try brands such as Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Dr. Bronners, Method, Ecos, Green Works, and many others, easily found at Safeway, Sprouts, Target, and other nearby stores.

Natural Personal Care Items: Personal care products such as deodorant, toothpaste, and makeup often contain potentially harmful chemicals. These chemicals can be absorbed into the body, cause skin irritation, or lead to environmental contamination. To protect yourself and the environment, purchase all natural and/or organic personal care products. Check EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to find out if there are harmful chemicals in your personal care products. Also, opt for items such as lotion and shampoo bars, which reduce packaging and waste associated with personal care.

Try brands such as Tom's of Maine, Burt's Bees, Dr. Bronners, LUSH, and many, many others, easily found at stores near campus.

Recycled Content School Supplies: Though somewhat more expensive than normal paper, notebooks, pens, and other items, buying recycled materials is a great way to support green companies and recycling markets if you have the resources. For example, Decomposition Books are made with 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, printed with soy ink, and made in the US. KleenEarth supplies, sold at the DU Bookstore, are made from recycled plastic.

Lots of major office supply brands have recycled-content lines, and are available at the DU Bookstore, Target, Office Depot, and other stores near campus.

Houseplants: Plants will bring some life and natural oxygen into your room. Succulents and cacti are easy to grow and can tolerate harsher conditions like low-light and forgetting to be watered. Other plants are excellent at purifying and improving air quality as they grow. Plus, they are a great, low-cost way to decorate your room without adding to the junk that gets thrown away at the end of every year.

Pick up houseplants at GroundCovers Greenhouse or the Garden Patch, both very near to campus and locally-owned.

What To Keep At Home

Your Car: There are so many ways to get around campus and Denver, and so little parking on and around campus that it doesn't make a lot of sense to bring your car to campus. Save the money you would spend on a parking pass and get a ski pass instead. Then take Ski Bus up to the mountains to make good use of it.

Space Heaters: Space heaters are wildly inefficient ways to warm you up when it's cold. If you need the temperature adjusted in your room, put in a work order with Facilities and they will come and fix it. Other than that, get some nice comfy slippers, warm socks, and a sweater you just love to keep warm in.

Printers: Printers are bulky and hard to move, while printer ink is extremely expensive. Instead of adding to the number of under-used items on campus, use your Uni-Print credits to print on campus computers all over campus. Worried you'll run out of printing credits? It's easy to reload more money with your Flex account.

Incandescent Lights: Incandescent lights are inefficient and create poor light quality compared to LEDs. Keep these old light bulbs at home and outfit your room with more efficient and better quality light with LED light bulbs.

Single-use flatware: It can seem easier to just keep a box of plastic forks and spoons next to a pack of paper plates for impromptu snacks and meals in your room. But this just creates unnecessary waste. Instead, opt for reusable plates, bowls, forks, and cups.

Disposable Decorations: Every year, students get rid of literal tons of decorations and other items they bought for holidays, birthdays, parties, and other special occasions. While we obviously want you to be festive and excited, be mindful of what you buy for these occasions and what will happen to them after you are finished with them. Are they reusable for next year? Great. Will you just trash them after the party is over? Think about alternatives that aren't just creating more trash.

SWAG: It is easy to get caught up in the moment when an organization or event is offering free t-shirts, water bottles, stress balls, and other items to you. But take a moment to think about them before you take them. Is this something you really need and will actually use? Or will this end up in the trash or the donation bin at the end of the year?