Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type



Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Dave Newport

Second Advisor

Jill Harrison

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


In this practicum thesis I sought to answer the question of how to improve the sustainability of Shoshoni Yoga Retreat. Shoshoni is a non-profit retreat center and residential community located just outside of Rollinsville, Colorado. I conducted a preliminary assessment to examine usage in the areas of energy, water, food, and waste and also inventoried carbon dioxide emissions associated with these usages. I defined sustainability to incorporate environmental sustainability and social sustainability with a strong emphasis on the former. I reviewed relevant literature regarding different forms of sustainability assessment to place this assessment within the existing range of studies. To conduct this assessment I gathered readily available information from various records, discussions with Shoshoni managers, and physical measurements. I also employed estimations and approximations where records were limited and measurements were not feasible. I established a baseline of usage and emissions for Shoshoni and compared this to national and state averages. The results showed that the retreat center was below the average in every category. In addition to this information regarding environmental sustainability I also examined broader social ramifications associated with Shoshoni’s operations. I discuss several projects already in place at Shoshoni including the transition from propane to wood boilers and solar thermal panels for heating, biodiesel production and the move towards an all diesel fleet, and on-site organic greenhouses and gardens for food production. I also offer specific recommendations within the four main areas of energy, water, food and waste. These include conducting an energy audit for the premises, practicing conservation and efficient use in all areas, offering economic incentives and buying offsets to address emissions from guest transportation, expanding the on-site food production and developing fair trade purchasing practices, developing a conservation and disaster plan for water, and expanding current recycling programs.