Colorado State University Nitrogen Footprint Project

Jacob Kimiecik1, Jill Baron2

 1 Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1499

2 USGS, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1499



Universities are a significant source of nitrogen that is released to the environment leading to environmental harm.  Colorado State University (CSU) is a large land grant institution working toward sustainability goals, and in 2014 added a goal of reducing its nitrogen (N) footprint. The CSU released N to the environment during the period August 2014-August 2015 from utilities, transportation, housing and dining, research animals, and research farms. The N footprint came to 1,066 metric tons N, of which only 28% was caused by on-campus activities. Most of CSU’s N footprint comes from Agricultural Experiment Stations and other research facilities around Colorado. Because of agricultural activity, CSU has a higher N-footprint by an order of magnitude than other universities that are part of the Nitrogen Footprint Network. On the university campus food production, utilities, and research animals are the largest sources of released N, and we describe an active program of education, incentives, and linking N reductions to greenhouse gas reductions.

Key Words

university, abatement, nitrogen footprint network, agricultural research