After a hiatus due to COVID-19, the CU President’s Sustainable Solutions Challenge returns this semester to address equity and energy use on campus. Students from each CU campus have the opportunity to share ideas for sustainable solutions for up to $2,000 while gaining experience in entrepreneurship, leadership and social enterprise.
Caroline Wiygul, the student organizer for the CU Boulder campus division of the competition, said the Sustainable Solutions Challenge is all about finding ways to be more environmentally friendly as a CU system of campuses.
“We’re looking for proposals from all angles of campus sustainability — waste, food and housing, equity, energy use, etc. Whatever topic a pitch addresses, it should be moving CU towards a just, carbon-neutral future,” she wrote via email.
The first step to participating in the Sustainable Solutions Challenge is to register through the CU website. Students can choose to work with a team or on their own as they seek to address social justice and environmental consciousness issues.
According to the CU Sustainable Solutions website, “Students (as individuals or teams) are invited to develop multidisciplinary approaches that result in short-pitch presentations that describe proposed sustainability initiatives to address environmental quality, natural resource use
, and social justice with economic longevity on a CU campus or through the CU system.”
Participating students are then invited to a workshop on CU campuses in March. This workshop aims to strengthen the ideas and concepts of the proposed solution and define the area of environmental consciousness that the proposal seeks to address.
Proposals are due April 1 and up to 20 student-submitted proposals will advance to the first round of the campus-level competition. Competitions for selecting the different proposals will be held mid-April.
According to Wiygul, “[Judges] ask the presenting groups questions, deliberate together about feasibility, functionality, and creativity of each proposal, and announce winners the same evening. Audience members at our campus pitch night also get to vote live for an audience choice award winner!”
For more information on the criteria that the panel of judges will be using and for a competition timeline, visit the following link. After the initial campus-level stages of the competition, judges will invite participating students to a sustainability summit at CU Boulder on April 21 where they will announce the grand prize winner.
Student solutions to environmental issues have had real-world applications, according to Wiygul. “At the first Sustainable Solutions Challenge, the winning group presented a plan for implementing green roofs on Boulder’s campus. Last year, the winner proposed a system of resilient parking lots that use permeable pavement and native plant landscaping to prevent flooding, save water, and beautify campus,” she said.
Even students who don’t win the competition may see their ideas implemented on campus. “After the competition, the Environmental Center (and similar groups on the other CU campuses) will push for all presented ideas — not just winners — to be considered and implemented,” Wiygul said.
For more information on the CU President’s Sustainable Solutions Challenge and how students at UCCS can get involved, visit the link here.