EPA leaders praise CSU sustainability efforts

EPA representatives and state and local leaders visited CSU Oct. 13 to recognize CSU’ sustainability achievements, and to tour parts of campus.

Colorado State University’s research and innovation efforts in green technologies and practices have grabbed the attention of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA representatives spent a half day on campus Oct. 13, starting with a luncheon honoring CSU chemistry professor Eugene Chen and staff member Sheela Backen for their specific sustainability-related achievements. The day continued with lab tours and presentations showcasing CSU’s many teaching, research and outreach programs related to sustainability.

James Jones, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, recognized Chen, who earlier this year was awarded the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The award was for Chen’s work in waste-free, solvent-free condensation reactions for biodegradable polymers and fuels.

Climate change, chemical safety, and food and water availability are just a few of the “extraordinary problems” facing society and the world today, Jones said.

The EPA visitors toured facilities in chemistry and plant biology, as well as the Powerhouse Energy Campus.
The EPA visitors toured facilities in chemistry and plant biology, as well as the Powerhouse Energy Campus.

“I believe it is the innovation that comes from the work by universities like CSU … that is going to be what leads us to the solutions, ultimately, that allow us to solve some of those seemingly intractable problems,” Jones said. “That’s why we at the EPA have been attempting to recognize individuals and institutions who do this kind of work.”

EPA Regional Administrator Shaun McGrath recognized Backen, CSU’s Integrated Solid Waste Program Manager, for spearheading the campus’s food recovery and recycling program, which diverts landfill waste and provides food to local charities. CSU has participated in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge since 2011.

During their campus visit, the EPA administrators were joined by local and state leaders, who all shared their congratulations with Chen, Backen and others.