Fort Lewis College Climate & Sustainability Action Plan

We are committed to climate and sustainability.

Learn about FLC’s vision for energy, transportation, development, natural systems & ecology, water, waste, food, and education & engagement. Download FLC Sustainability Action Plan

Written by FLC’s Campus Sustainability Committee; adopted on 12/06/2023.


Vision: We envision FLC as a campus with ultra-efficient energy systems derived from 100% carbon-neutral electric sources. Currently, electricity and natural gas account for ~65% of FLC’s greenhouse gas footprint. Of those two sources, natural gas is a fossil fuel, while the College’s electricity is produced from a mix of fossil fuels and renewables. Electricity provided by the College’s electrical cooperative comprises 33% renewables, and on-site renewables account for 2% of the College’s electricity production. Renewable Energy Credits help to offset 56% of greenhouse gas emissions at FLC. Addressing the climate crisis demands conservation, efficiency, and electrification of systems currently reliant on natural gas.


  • Each year, reduce emissions from natural gas by at least 5% by replacing systems with more energy-efficient electrical equipment.
    • Tracking: Document greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from natural gas annually.
  • Increase the amount of renewable electricity powering the College from 35% to 45% over the next five years by increasing on-site renewables or changes to the energy resource mix of the College’s electricity supplier.
    • Tracking: Document the amount of renewables and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity annually.
  • Replace all fluorescent, incandescent, and HID lighting with upgraded LED lighting within five years.
    • Tracking: Document the number of campus spaces with LED lighting annually.


Vision: We envision FLC as a place where it is easy to live near campus and commute using sustainable transportation. Transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by increasing alternative commuting options and offering more housing on or near campus.


  • Reduce emissions from commuting by 5% over five years by increasing support for alternative transportation and increasing on-campus housing.


Vision: We envision the FLC campus as a place where development and natural space protection are integrated. This integration is critical so that development done today protects natural space and housing availability for the future. We envision more housing options on or near campus that coexist with healthy ecosystems. New development would be constructed by building on under-used parking areas and areas dominated by non-native plants (e.g., lawns).


  • Within one year, establish a Sustainable Facilities Advisory Committee.
  • Complete a new net-zero residence hall by 2028.

Natural Systems & Ecology

Vision: We envision FLC as a mosaic of ecosystem types, where native plants are protected and planted, where native animals find habitat, and where plants sequester carbon dioxide. This diversity of ecosystem types is critical for FLC’s commitment to hands-on learning, health, and well-being and for FLC’s role in the greater ecosystem. We envision protecting outdoor places for learning, exercising, relaxing, and spiritual practices. 


  • Form a committee to create a Natural Area Preservation Plan within two years.
  • Each year, there is a 0% reduction in on-campus native ecosystems.
    • Tracking: Document land use change on campus every five years.


Vision: We envision FLC as a steward of water, where rainwater is a primary source for irrigation and where irrigation of non-native plants is limited. Water conservation has been a focus of the College throughout its history, as evidenced by low-irrigation landscaping and low-flow fixtures throughout buildings. The College uses, on average, approximately 69 million gallons of water each year. Of that total, 68% is used for irrigation, and 32% is used for indoor water use. The irrigation is untreated water from the City of Durango Reservoir. The indoor water is treated and comes from the City of Durango water supply. About 41 acres of irrigated turf are on campus, not including the city soccer and softball fields. The sports fields managed by the City of Durango include another 26 acres of irrigated turf. Natural areas comprise the most significant land cover class on campus, encompassing 78 acres. Natural areas are not irrigated and may include native grasses, other native vegetation, and some weeds. We envision a gradual reduction of irrigated turf and, where turf remains, an increase in irrigation efficiency.


  • Each year, reduce irrigated lawn by ¼ acre.
    • Tracking: Document land use change on campus every five years.
  • Within five years, replace all sprinkler heads with vacuum-sealed models and upgrade the control system.
    • Tracking: The document irrigation system is boosted every five years.


Vision: We envision FLC as a place where closed-loop systems exist to re-purpose “waste.” Recycling will be effortless. Food waste will be minimal, and where it exists, it will be diverted to compost systems, not landfills. These efforts would be widespread and clearly described so that students can learn from waste-reduction work and waste reduction becomes a part of FLC culture. 


  • Each year, increase the amount of food waste diverted to compost programs by 10% until 100% of waste is diverted.
    • Tracking: Document the amount of food waste diverted to compost annually.
  • Each year, there is a 2% or more annual reduction in emissions from solid waste.
    • Tracking: Document the volume of trash and recycling produced annually.
  • Each year, the amount of contamination in recycling decreases.
    • Tracking: Document recycling contamination annually.
  • Maintain zero waste catering, reusable to-go containers, and bring-your-own container programs run by Dining Services.
    • Maintain electronics recycling program.


Vision: We envision an FLC food system that emphasizes environmentally friendly food grown, where possible, on local farms. Delicious plant-based options are readily available, and meat comes from humane sources. Equity is central in this vision of a sustainable food system, and food insecurity on campus is eliminated. FLC continues coordinating with the local community to train future farmers and better align local food availability with the academic calendar.


  • Each year, increase plant-based menu items by 5%.
    • Tracking: Document plant-based food purchases annually (from September to February).
  • Each year, increase the amount of local and environmentally friendly food purchased by 5%.
    • Tracking: Document local and environmentally friendly food purchases annually (from September to February).
  • In year 1, stabilize the amount of meat and dairy purchased. In subsequent years, decrease the amount of meat and dairy purchased.
    • Tracking: Document meat and dairy food purchases annually (from September to February).

Education & Engagement

Vision: Every FLC student receives an environmental education that they can apply to their life and career journey after college. This environmental education comes from courses and co-curricular engagement.


  • Within three years, adopt an FLC-wide learning outcome related to sustainability.
  • Identify all courses on campus that include sustainability. Track the number of students taking these courses and increase the number by 5% annually. 
    • Tracking: Conduct a course inventory every five years.
  • Maintain annual Sustainability Summit.


FLC is committed to sustainability. As a campus community, we strive to reduce our impacts on the environment and meet the needs of the College today without compromising the needs of future generations. We also recognize that we are part of the larger Durango and regional community, and we will encourage and participate in sustainability practices in connected organizations to promote sustainability beyond the campus and reduce our own ecological footprint. We thank our community partners for working to achieve sustainability.