Fort Lewis College Sustainability - Sustainability On Campus

Sustainability on Campus

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Agricultural programs at the Old Fort

The Old Fort at Hesperus is a beautiful 6,000+ acre site managed by Fort Lewis that is located just 16 miles from campus. The Old Fort offers several programs to learn more about farming. There are summer internships in sustainable agriculture that fulfill requirements in Environmental Studies, Public Health, Sociology, Biology, and other fields. The Old Fort Market Garden Incubator Program is for aspiring farmers and provides educational classes along with access to land, water, and infrastructure. Incubator participants run independent businesses and cooperate with each other to produce a variety of foods at 7,600 feet. Finally, the Farmer-In-Training Program is a stepping stone between the internship and incubator, for people who want to farm but who need more experience.

Bee Club

The Bee Club is a registered student organization designed to give students the opportunity to learn and practice beekeeping. We currently have five honey bee hives located on campus, and club members have ample opportunity to work hands on with the bees. Bee keeping is an important and quickly growing form of urban agriculture that promotes healthy hives, healthy gardens, and healthy lives. The main goal of the Bee Club is to educate students on the importance of honey bees to our food system, as well as inspire students to become bee activists and beekeepers. For more information, contact Dr. Becky Clausen.

Campus Sustainability Council

The Campus Sustainability Council is a group of students, staff, and faculty who coordinate action for sustainability at Fort Lewis. Any member of the Fort Lewis community can apply to be on the council, which meets monthly.

Carbon Commitment

Fort Lewis College is a signatory to the Second Nature Carbon Commitment. Through this commitment, Fort Lewis aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2080, with interim emissions reductions targets in 2015, 2020, 2030, and 2040. In 2015, we exceeded our goal and reduced carbon emissions by 21% through updating inefficient equipment on campus, such as boilers, replacing and updating light fixtures with efficient bulbs and occupancy sensors, and adding insulation to the dormitories.



Fort Lewis College diverts tens of thousands of pounds of food waste each year from the dining hall and turns it into nutrient-rich garden soil. Our state-of-the-art in-vessel composter, called the Rocket, is key to the process, as is the compost-finishing shed, designed and built by students from the Physics and Engineering departments.


Coursework in sustainability

Many different majors include sustainability in coursework. Over half of all Fort Lewis College departments and majors have courses with a sustainability component, including Adventure Education, Anthropology, Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Economics, Engineering, English, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, History, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health, and Sociology.

Drought-tolerant landscaping

Water is precious in southwestern Colorado. Lawns and traditional grassy landscapes use a lot of irrigation. In pursuit of a landscape that fits with the bioregion, 12% of campus is comprised of low or no-irrigation xeriscaped gardens.

Environmental Center

The Environmental Center is a student-based organization that oversees impactful environmental and social justice initiatives on campus and in the community. Students at the Environmental Center work on different teams: Real Food Challenge, Zero Waste, Local Food Security, and Energy Impact. During the school year, the Environmental Center has two full-time professional staff who provide opportunities for students to take positive action on the issues they care about through jobs, research projects, and volunteer opportunities.

Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary degree program that provides students with the cultural, political, and scientific background for careers focused on environmental issues. Environmental Studies is unique in that it unites a broad array of disciplines, and students take courses in the sciences and humanities in order to gain a broad understanding of human and environmental relations.

Free Store

The Environmental Center hosts a biweekly campus Free Store. Anyone can participate by donating or picking up free items. The Free Store keeps useable items out of the landfill by following the old adage that one person’s trash is another’s treasure.


Students can learn about local food systems right on campus in the Eco-Demonstration Garden. This garden gives students the chance to learn sustainable gardening practices and gain hands on experience growing their own food. Students can also complete coursework in the garden through the Environmental Studies Ecological Agriculture course. Get involved with the garden by contacting the Environmental Center.

Green buildings

Fort Lewis is committed to environmental practices even as we grow. Four buildings on campus are currently LEED Gold certified. LEED is the preeminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of high-performance green buildings.

Sitter Family Hall, the home of the Geosciences and Physics & Engineering Departments, is the fourth LEED® certified facility on campus. Features include double-glazed low-e windows, state-of-the-art heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, rooftop mounted solar panels, recycled construction materials and more.

The Student Union features a vegetated roof, and two solar energy projects: a solar hot water system and a roof-top photovoltaic system, in addition to a state-of-the-art composting system.

The Biology Wing of Berndt Hall also features solar power along with bicycle storage, open space preservation, and extensive natural lighting.

Animas Hall was Fort Lewis’s first residence hall to earn a LEED Gold rating. Animas Hall features recycled and locally-produced building materials, along with low or no-water landscaping

Green purchasing

It is a Fort Lewis College best practice to use Green Seal and EcoLogo certified paper and chemical janitorial products. In addition, no bleach is used on campus. Hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners are used as a greener bleach alternative.

Green vehicle parking permits

Campus commuters who use fuel-efficient vehicles receive a 20% discount on parking permits. Find out if your vehicle qualifies here.

Grub Hub

The Grub Hub is a student-led food pantry, operating on the Fort Lewis College campus, dedicated to social justice and de-stigmatizing food insecurity. The Grub Hub distributes recovered and donated food items to students, but students.


The Fort Lewis College herbarium is a research collection of plant and fungal specimens totaling over 15,000. This collection is fully databased and available on-line and is the largest such collection in western Colorado. It contains the most comprehensive information on native plant and fungal species occurrences in our area. 

Hiking trails

Fort Lewis College is surrounded by hiking and biking trails, which offer an alternative way to commute to campus.

Local food from the Old Fort Market Gardens

Just 16 miles from Fort Lewis College are the Old Fort Market Gardens. Located on the original site of Fort Lewis, they provide an amazing opportunity to grow and learn about local food. Everything from arugula to zucchini is grown, and there are even two 90’ hoophouses that enable farmers to grow greens right through the winter. A historic orchard, dating back to the 1900’s, provides local apples. Grassfed cattle are raised at the Old Fort without antibiotics or growth promotants. Interns, farmers-in-training, and experienced farmers grow everything on site, providing the campus dining hall with thousands of pounds of produce and humanely-raised meat every year. Food is available for purchase from the Farm Stand and CSA program.

Low-flow faucets

Water conservation is paramount in Colorado. Most sinks on campus are fitted with low-flow faucets.

Member of AASHE

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is a leader in empowering campuses to achieve sustainability. As a member, Fort Lewis students, staff, and faculty can access information to implement action for sustainability on campus. Anybody with a email account can access AASHE’s wealth of resources to plan for campus sustainability.


Durango is known for its delicious apples, showcased every year at the Apple Days festival. Fort Lewis maintains its own fruit collection in an on-campus orchard with a variety of organically-managed trees. Get involved with the orchard through the Environmental Center’s Local Food Security Initiatives.

Preservation of green space around campus

Mountain views and wild vegetation are precious to the campus community and as habitat for Colorado wildlife. The Fort Lewis College Master Plan explicitly identifies open spaces around campus as special areas to be protected from development.

Princeton Review Green College

In 2016 and 2017, Princeton Review named Fort Lewis College one of the 375 most environmentally responsible colleges in recognition of our work to advance sustainability in academics, operations, engagement, and planning and administration.

Public transportation

Take advantage of Durango's city bus system. FLC students ride for free, and discounted bus passes are available to staff and faculty for just $30.

Real Food Challenge signatory

Eat well and support ecologically-sound, locally-grown, fairly-produced, and humanely-raised food in the college dining hall. Fort Lewis College is a signatory to the national Real Food Challenge, committing to spend at least 20% of the school's food budget, nearly $320,000 annually, on real food.

Recycling and waste reduction

Fort Lewis College participates in a user-friendly single-stream recycling program. Physical Plant Services on campus also sorts through project and maintenance waste, reclaiming and re-purposing materials that would otherwise go to the landfill. The Environmental Center recycles ink jet and laser jet cartridges.

Read an in-depth audit of FLC's recycling and waste program.

Renewable electricity

52% of Fort Lewis College’s electricity is generated with wind and solar renewable electricity through participation in the La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Green Power program and from on-campus solar panels.

Reusable lunch containers

Keep disposable to-go containers out of the landfill with the easy and hygienic reusable container system. Pick up your reusable container at the dining hall or any of the food kiosks in the Student Union. Fill your container with delicious to-go food; when you are done with your container, return it at any campus dining location and receive a token that gets you a CLEAN to-go container the next time you eat on campus. There is a one-time fee of $4 for your first container.

Sierra Club Cool School

In 2016 and 2017, Fort Lewis College was named a Sierra Club Cool School in recognition of the campus's ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. Recent action for sustainability on campus has centered around climate planning, sustainable food purchasing, and green buildings.


Solar energy

Fort Lewis College has solar panels on the Student Union, Sitter Family Hall, and Berndt Hall, which includes a solar hot water system and a roof-top photovoltaic system. See real-time data from the Student Union solar array.

Sustainability Initiative Grant

The Fort Lewis College Sustainability Initiative Grant supports work to advance a more sustainable campus. Available annually to students, staff, and faculty, this competitive grant awards funds to innovative projects that enhance campus sustainability.

Sustainability Summit

The Fort Lewis College Environmental Center hosts an annual celebration of sustainability. Come to the spring Sustainability Summit to learn about campus sustainability initiatives and inspiring positive action.

Village Aid Project

Village Aid Project (VAP) at Fort Lewis College is a student-centered, humanitarian organization whose mission is to partner with needy communities in the developing world to find sustainable solutions to their critical engineering problems. In addition, VAP is training a new generation of students who understand the need for sustainable systems and who value the concept of responsible global citizenship.

Water bottle filling station

Just say no to plastic bottles and the waste they create. Fill your water bottle in one of the water bottle filling stations on campus, or make use of the water fountains located in every building.

Princeton Review - Guide to Green Schools Real Food Challenge seal carbon commitment logo EPA Green Power Partner