Written by: Jan Ellen Spiegel

This year, Colorado College met a goal it set in 2009 to become carbon neutral. It’s one of a small group of U.S. colleges to reach that milestone.

“This was a pretty audacious goal when we set it,” says sustainability director Ian Johnson. “But having that goal kind of gave us a common understanding of where we were all headed. … It really started to shift the way that we operated.”

Johnson says the college started designing and renovating buildings to make them more efficient, and it began purchasing more renewable energy and installing solar on-site.

“And slowly and steadily, we’ve watched our emissions drop over the past decade,” he says.

To cover the rest, the college invests in carbon offset programs that remove carbon pollution from the atmosphere.

Now the college has met its goal of carbon neutrality, but Johnson says the work must go on. A quarter of the student body turns over each year.

“So there’s a continuous need for education and focus on that behavioral change,” he says. “So the way that we travel, the way that we handle our waste, all of the things that we as individuals choose to do on a daily basis.”

He hopes the habits students develop stay with them long after graduation.

“It’s not just what happens on our campus,” he says, “but it’s how we educate and enable and empower students to be able to go out and make some of those changes as well.”

This article originally appeared on Yale Climate Connections