University of Colorado / Initiative for Sustainable Development at the University of Colorado Real Estate Center - Leeds School of Business

Stephanie L. Gripne, PhD
Director, Initiative for Sustainable Development
Associate Professor Adjoint
University of Colorado's Real Estate Center
Leeds School of Business
Koelbel Building, Room S210G
995 Regent Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
303-492-4227 Phone
303-550-9661 Mobile

Initiative Description and Primary Objectives 

Tag Line: “Generating profit while and conserving places and supporting people”

Vision:  Financially, ecologically, and socially thriving communities led by well –trained CU students.

Mission: Operating within the Leeds School of Business, the Initiative for Sustainable Development’s (ISD) mission is to:

1. Build a financial case for sustainability as it relates to the built environment, conservation & environmental markets, and socially responsible investing;
2. Educate the next generation of MBA professionals in the area of sustainability;
3. Become the research leader in the field of sustainability;
4. Disseminate best practices & convene stakeholders from across the state, country, and world.

ISD is grounded in service‐based learning working to catalyze innovative public‐private partnerships that will result in benefits our communities and environment.

Focus Areas

1. Built Environment: Transit Oriented Development, Affordable Housing, and Green building
2. Conservation & Environmental Markets: Conservation, Water, Carbon, Energy
3. Sustainable Finance: Program Related Investments (PRI), Mission-Related Investments, TOD Fund; Community Reinvestment Act.

Key Academic Disciplines 

Entrepreneurship and Management
Nonmarket Economics
Contingent Valuation – Willingness to Pay
Participatory Action Research

Key Partner Organizations and Individuals 

City of Denver
Governor’s Energy Office
University of Denver – Bruce Hutton
University of Colorado – Stephanie Gripne
University of Colorado – Doug Bennett
Colorado State University – John Loomis
University of Colorado – Brett Fund

Initiative History and Champions 

The CU Real Estate Center Foundation members, specifically Cal Fulenwider and the first Director William Shutkin were critical to launch the Initiative.  The Initiative was launched just before the economic crash of 2008 and struggled with funding.  Additionally, there have been three Directors of the Real Estate Center and three Deans and/or Interim Deans of the Leeds School of Business within 3 years.

Distinctiveness and Strategic Significance of the Initiative 

The Initiative is one of the only sustainability programs in the country focused on conservation real estate and environmental markets within a Business School.  Additionally, Colorado is a leader in terms of practitioners in this space both in the rural and built environment.

Measurable Effectiveness of the Initiative 

Success for this effort is measured in funding achieves, jobs and internships placed, projects completed.

• MBA Course in Sustainable Real Estate Development & US Green Building Council Colorado - Partnership with Green Building Council to teach LEED 3.0 certification.

• Colorado Governor’s Energy Office High Performance Commercial Building Research Project:  The University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business is collaborating with the Colorado Governor's Energy Office to conduct a study of high performance (green) commercial buildings in the state of Colorado.  The purpose of the project is to: 1. Understand if there is a premium for high performance (green) commercial buildings, 2. Understand the mechanisms that encourage or discourage the building of high performance (green) commercial buildings.

• Conservation Forestry Eco-Asset Overlay: Partnered with a large conservation timber fund to evaluate new revenue streams on their several hundred thousand acre portfolio across ten states using staff from the CU Leeds School of Business Research Division and MBA Students.

• The Conservation Development Global Challenges Research Team.  Dr. Stephanie Gripne is a team member on the interdisciplinary team of scholars and practitioners seeking to advance research on conservation development at a global scale. Housed within Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, our group includes fourteen collaborators from three universities and seven departments at CSU. We aim to transcend disciplines, schools of thought, and research perspectives and advance the science and practice of Conservation Development in the United States and around the world.  Hosted a workshop and working on our first research project.

Transferability of the Initiative 

Most definitely, I would love to discuss this with anyone verbally.

The Initiative’s Ability to Endure 

I would love to discuss this with anyone verbally.

Engagement Strategies 

ISD has engaged students through teaching, internships, class consulting projects, and MBA case competitions.