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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Sept. 12, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

Colorado State University
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Nik Olsen
Assistant Director of Administrative Communications
Office of the President
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Colorado State University has partnered with the Colorado State Forest Service to install a biomass boiler heating plant to reduce the university's greenhouse gas emissions and cut energy costs.

The heating plant will burn wood chips rather than rely solely on natural gas to provide hot water. The wood chips are a result of forest restoration and management efforts such as forest fire mitigation projects, which typically supply about 10 tons of wood chips per acre.

The boiler is rated at 46 boiler hp, or 1.5 million Btu/hr, which is large enough to burn more than 1,300 tons of wood chips each year. Wood chips are classified as renewable energy because burning biomass releases the atmospheric carbon that was absorbed during a tree's growth cycle. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with this energy source are limited to those resulting from transporting the fuel.

In addition, heating with wood chips costs about half the price of natural gas, resulting in a savings of approximately $60,000 in utility costs annually at CSU.

Biomass is a significant step in achieving lower greenhouse gas emissions because using energy from biomass eliminates the need for fossil fuel-based energy sources and prevents rotting trees from being burned during wildfires or prescribed burning. Biomass energy produces 96 percent fewer emissions than natural forest fires and 97 percent fewer emissions than prescribed burning.

The biomass boiler heating plant is one way to deal with environmental and budget concerns. Future phases are planned as funding is available and development continues.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.