When a budget crisis forced the state to cut funds to its schools, University of Colorado officials approached the student council to ask for a fee hike crucial to financing construction of four new campus buildings. Student council members, led by Eugene – then a junior – saw a rare opportunity. As a condition of its support, the student council insisted that any new construction meet “green building” standards, including that 100 percent of the electricity for the new buildings come from renewable resources. After Eugene’s analyses showed that the new building standards would return ten times the university’s investment in saved utility costs over the life of the building, university officials signed on, making CU-Boulder’s building standards the greenest in the country.
“We were able to demonstrate that careful planning, thoughtful design, and investment in sustainable practices is good for the pocketbook and the environment,” Eugene shared. “Our commitment to 100 percent wind energy will save an estimated 36.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which has the same environmental benefits as not driving a car over 35,200,000 miles, or planting 7,330 acres of trees.”