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Second Nature re-launched its website this week with an updated look and new capabilities. These include blog hosting, so from here on out we will be posting our regular blog content there.

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Thank you for following us these past 3+ years of blogging on WordPress.com — we look forward to your continued readership and engagement over at our new spot!

-The Second Nature Team

By Dennis J. Neumann, Public Information Director, United Tribes Technical College (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer and was originally published in the December/January 2013 edition of United Tribes News)

ACUPCC ImplementerUnited Tribes Technical College used National Sustainability Day, October 24, to raise awareness and boost participation in the college’s recycling program. For a number of years campus departments have recycled paper and plastic under the leadership of a small but committed group of faculty members. Two years ago, interest in sustainability grew when United Tribes President David M. Gipp signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The document outlines concerns about global climate change and offers methods for higher education institutions to model ways of minimizing the effects, showing leadership and integrating sustainability on campuses around the country. Institutions that sign-on commit their best efforts to pursue climate neutrality: By developing an institutional plan; initiating action to reduce greenhouse gases; and publicly reporting progress reports to the ACUPCC Reporting System.

Green Committee

Spearheading the United Tribes effort is the college’s Green Committee. An informal ‘green committee’ existed on the campus for many years; its dedicated volunteers primarily devoted their labor to campus beautification. Now ‘green’ has a different hue. It’s work is directed from within the Student and Campus Services division and the members are tasked with addressing the substantial challenges associated with the climate commitment. The campus-wide recycling drive is one of their initiatives and is aimed at lowering the campus carbon footprint.

Organized Recycling

UTTC

Pitching in is United Tribes pre-schooler Kiiana Wells, 2, and her mother Shealynn Wells (Blackfeet), a UTTC Nursing student. Both took part in a campus-wide recycling drive October 24 on National Sustainability Day. Led by the campus “Green Committee,” the college is placing more emphasis on recycling as part of its commitment to sustainability.

UTTC’s campus-based population of 1,160 – including college students, staff, and youngsters – is of sufficient size that recycling requires organization and promotion. The October drive was promoted throughout campus with posters and electronic messages with the slogan: “Let’s Fill Our Bins to the Brim!” Participants were encouraged to begin using a regular system for collecting two, common recyclables: paper and plastic. The college would like to recycle as much as possible, including aluminum cans. Members of the Green Committee advised how to prepare and separate recyclables. They set up drop-off locations in main campus buildings where they placed recycling totes. And they invited the more engaged to take their recyclables directly to the large collection bins that were brightly painted with designs and words by youngsters from the college’s elementary school. The event also included a cook-out at the student union and presentations about campus sustainability and the work of the Green Committee.

Work Ahead

Since United Tribes agreed to the climate commitment in 2010, sustainability has taken on new importance in policy and practice. But the challenges associated with incorporating “Green Energy” are considerable. UTTC is located on the site of a former military post. Most of the brick and wood-frame buildings, constructed between 1900 and 1908, are poor examples of energy efficiency. Over the past decade, all remodeling and new construction has incorporated modern efficiencies, like ground-source heating, energy efficient windows and passive solar design. Signing the commitment and establishing the Green Committee, with representation from departments throughout the campus, signals that green energy is a central part of the college administration’s long-term strategic plan to grow the student population and expand the campus with new buildings and infrastructure.

According to Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, the college is committed to green standards. New campus construction and renovations are planned and built with the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Silver standard as a guideline. The two most recent examples are a $1.1 million renovation and expansion of the college cafeteria and the $5.5 million construction of a science and technology building on the college’s new, south campus.

Green energy initiatives are moving forward on a number of fronts. The college has adopted an energy-efficient appliance policy, requiring the purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products that have that rating. Family student houses have received new appliances, along with new lighting and other energy efficient changes. A study is underway to compare the energy consumption of houses where retrofitted appliances are in service. Student tenants, and their family members, have been trained to identify good energy usage.

As the college upgrades its aging electrical service by changing-out overhead distribution lines to underground, new gas and electric metering is installed for individual buildings. Unfortunately, service to the original military fort did not include separate metering. Also being added are water meters. This will more closely identify consumption and costs. Staff and students in the college’s Tribal Environmental Science Program used a carbon calculator program to perform energy audits and that will help identify areas for improvement.

In terms of information and education, the college has hosted Sustainability Days and Earth Day observances. Guest experts have presented talks about energy efficient ideas and policies that can be incorporated on campus. The college has encouraged the use of public transportation; there is a city bus system stop a the college’s main entrance.

Clearly the Green Committee understands it has much work to do on sustainability. An important step just ahead is to file the college’s climate action plan with the ACUPCC by January 15, 2013. That planning work is underway now.

For more information about the United Tribes Green Committee and the college’s climate commitment, please contact Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, S/CS, 701-255-3285 x 1638, cmaynard@uttc.edu.

By Jacqueline J. Palmer, Facilities Coordinator, Bowie State University
(This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerBowie State University has undertaken several endeavors to go “green” and increase its sustainability through its Climate Control Commitment Committee (C4), not the least of which is its partnership with the Toyota Green Initiative to foster sustainable living and thinking among its students. The Toyota Green Initiative (TGI) is an environmental stewardship platform designed to empower Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students and alumni on the benefits of adopting a sustainable lifestyle.   The success of a Bowie State University and TGI partnership is predicated on both entities’ keen focus on a partnership supported by engaged leadership, which in turn will foster enhanced sustainability awareness at Bowie State University.

By its nature a sustainable lifestyle necessitates a change in mindset, thus the acceptance of sustainability practices as routine requires leadership intervention and engagement. Further, the partnership will be foundational for fostering green practices targeting students, faculty and staff at the university.  It is within this vein that the launch of the TGI was held during the 2010 Homecoming at Bowie State University, the first stop in a cross-country HBCU tour through a partnership with the CIAA and the BET Black College Tour.

As with any institution, leaders must model the way for their followers. In this regard, Bowie State University President Mickey L. Burnim, and Dr. Karl Brockenbrough, Vice President for Administration and Finance, were on hand to welcome John Ridgeway, corporate manager of Toyota Financial Services, and participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the BSU greenhouse in December 2012.  In addition to serving as a learning forum for BSU students specifically and the campus community generally, the greenhouse now serves as a conservatory for nurturing and cultivating flowers for future planting as part of the campus landscape.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was a precursor to a one day, fully immersive TGI event held at Bowie State University, President Burnim and his cabinet members were actively involved in the student-focused lecture series, recycling and other activities relating to sustainability as a way of life, and a greenhouse re-planting activity undertaken during the event. Student groups separated and replanted 87 day lilies and 16 irises, which will yield upward of 250 perennials in the spring for replanting as part of the campus landscape. The outcome of these efforts will serve to decrease the carbon footprint of the campus.

Student involvement in the TGI recycle portion of the event yielded upward of 7,000 pounds or over 3 tons of recyclable materials to include:

  • Plastic: 5,365 lbs.
  • Aluminum: 1,172 lbs.
  • Paper: 367 lbs.
  • Clothing: 21 lbs.
  • Glass: 267 lbs.

The TGI team reported that the recycle drive at Bowie State University resulted in the highest amount of items collected from any particular HBCU during our 2012 campus tour.  The successful generation of recyclable material at Bowie State University is unsurprising given that the university has participated in the National Recyclemania competition for the past six years. In addition, the C4 committee, led by Dr. Brockenbrough, has been instrumental in staging Earth Day, Recycle Week, and lectures to move the Bowie State University community toward adopting sustainability as a way of life.  These efforts, coupled with the burgeoning TGI partnership, are serving to foster purposefulness in attaining and sustaining green sensibility.

By Candy Center, SEED Center Consultant and Todd Cohen, Director of the SEED Center (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThe American Association of Community Colleges’ SEED Center Mentor Connect program pairs best-in-class green colleges with “mentee” colleges in an effort to more swiftly enhance programs that prepare students for careers in clean energy and green fields.

The SEED Center created this pilot mentoring project in response to a growing demand from its 471 colleges seekingSEED Logo more in-depth technical assistance. “We realized the best way to replicate some of the great sustainability-related practices we were finding on college campuses was through a structured program that would leverage the expertise of our growing pool of community college experts and create peer-to-peer networking opportunities,” said Todd Cohen, director of the SEED Center.

Mentee colleAACC Logoges created project plans and outcomes and secured senior administrative support for their participation. Mentors were matched with mentees based on need and fit and over a period of nine months engaged in a series of working conference calls and, in some cases, site visits.

Actions focused on a range of clean tech workforce development and broader sustainability curriculum efforts. Some colleges devised strategies to more effectively engage regional employers in current or new program design while others began college-wide efforts to embed sustainability concepts into core curriculum.

The pilot project has created some significant early successes including a coordinated 14-college effort in Kentucky to train automotive faculty to infuse hybrid and alternative fuels technologies into their programs. While the peer-to-peer technical assistance has been effective, it is the potential for these partnerships to become long-term relationships that is most exciting.

Monroe Community College/Los Angeles Trade-Technical CollegeScreen shot 2013-02-06 at 12.03.59 PM

Monroe Community College (MCC) has offered a number of renewable and clean energy courses but was looking to invigorate and expand these and related degree offerings to more closely match employer needs in the New York Finger Lakes region.  Through the Mentor Connect program MCC focused on two project goals:

1) Identify new appropriate building science and alternative energy programs, and; 2) Grow enrollment in MCC’s newly developed Solar Thermal Certificate, including identifying new certificates that will be fully transferable into existing HVAC and construction technology degree programs.

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 1.15.21 PMMCC is now implementing a strategy used by several community colleges, including Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, to leverage industry certifications and competencies creating “stackable” certificates with career pathways.   With this model, students complete aligned foundational competencies and receive academic certificates and/or industry certifications which can be “stacked” into an associate’s degree. The model, which has proven to be successful in helping student achievement, has only just begun to be adapted to sustainability-related industry sectors.

In a series of conversations, LATTC mentors worked with MCC staff to use LATTC’s forthcoming tool Defining Your College’s Competitive Advantage in the Emerging Green Economy:  A Blueprint for Building High Quality, Green Programs of Study.  The tool helped MCC assess external factors—from industry incentives to state policy to their community appetite for sustainability—that would likely determine which clean tech industry sectors might be high-growth sectors, and thus, worthy of further college training investment.

MCC has now set a path to adapt its new solar thermal technology certificate program to prepare students to become technicians Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 1.31.49 PMskilled in the design, installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems. MCC’s certificate program offers a curriculum that reflects industry standards and provides a pathway to an A.A. S. degree in heating, ventilation and air conditioning/refrigeration. The connections forged as part of the Mentor Connect cohort enabled MCC to evaluate new programming opportunities and to create continuing connections between the two colleges. LATTC program chairs will share curricular materials with MCC departments to assist MCC as they revise and adapt their renewable and clean energy curriculum.

By Jairo Garcia, Kresge Implementation Fellow, Second Nature (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerMy name is Jairo Garcia and I am thrilled to be part of the Second Nature team as the ACUPCC Implementation Fellow. My primary responsibilities are to assist and support Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Under-Resourced Institutions (URIs) signatories of the ACUPCC to advance your institution’s commitment to carbon neutrality, implement sustainability practices in curricular initiatives and support your community partnerships. Also joining the Second Nature team is Axum Teferra. Axum is the ACUPCC Recruitment Fellow, and will be sharing responsibilities in providing implementation support. Our positions were made possible by The Kresge Foundation through Second Nature’s “Sustainability Leadership, Capacity Building and Diversity Initiative”.

I would like to share my journey that has led to my passion for education for sustainability. I grew up in an garciaeconomically challenged neighborhood in Bogota, Colombia, surrounded by drug dealers and violence. I vividly remember the sole tree almost a mile from my house and the Bogota River, infamously recognized for being one of the most polluted rivers in the world. These were my only two contacts with nature in the middle of Bogota’s ever-expanding urban metropolis. To escape from the glooms of my reality, I submerged myself in books and dreamed about a better world where we all could live and prosper with dignity and in harmony with nature. 

My family had little opportunity to finish high school, much less college, and perhaps this was the reason for not being supportive when I told them about my desire to study physics after being accepted at the National University in Colombia. They believed that physics was a futile profession and our economic situation was too precarious to pursue years of study. My only option at that time was to enroll in a technical institute. After obtaining a technical degree, I was able to find a full-time job and make enough money to help my family and to enroll in a big university to further my education in engineering.

My graduation thesis at the technical institute received prestigious recognitions and after completing my engineering degree, I was offered the opportunity to work for a Colombian company in New York City. To obtain USA professional credentials, I pursued in evenings a Telecommunications Certification program at La Guardia Community College. This program allowed me to find a job with a multinational organization in the heart of Manhattan. A few years later, I completed a Master’s in Network Management from Syracuse University. In 2000, I moved to Atlanta, GA for a consulting position with a Fortune 100 company. For almost a decade, I worked as an engineering consultant, managing projects in more than 25 countries.

It was through these numerous travels that I came to the realization that environmental degradation is not limited to Bogota or New York, but it is evident across the globe; polluted air, rivers, and oceans, species pushed to extinction, thousands of acres of land turned into deserts, and noticeable extreme poverty even in the wealthiest countries. The breaking point occurred while visiting a beverage plant in Lima, Peru. Their installation, protected by guards in military uniforms with machine guns, was located next to a waterless river packed with garbage. The closeness of that beverage plant to a dry river was a surreal image that brought flashbacks from my childhood and changed my mind forever. I decided to become part of the solution by dedicating my professional efforts to making contributions for the construction of a just and sustainable society.

During this time I was pursuing a doctorate in technology, but after my trip to Peru, I switched my topic to sustainability in higher education. My focus was on universities in Costa Rica because of their leading role in sustainability education in developing countries. As a byproduct of my research, I was able to create awareness at many universities in Costa Rica about the critical need to prioritize resources for sustainability in education. I was able to present the results of my research at the AASHE Annual Conference in 2010.

Although sustainability should be taught at all levels of education, the critical condition of our planet requires immediate action. Higher education institutions are in a privileged position because of their intrinsic function to form our next generation of scientists, educators, and decision makers. As such, these institutions play a fundamental role in changing our path from degradation to a sustainable future, in which all humans should be able to live and prosper in harmony with each other and with the rest of the natural world; however, this education must be carefully designed. David Orr, distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College, stated that without significant precaution, “education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the earth”. This education, according to Orr, must include principles of social-economic and environmental values and ethics, “a commitment for the preservation of life and an attachment to health, harmony, balance, diversity, peace, participation, and justice”.

My passion for sustainability in education lead me to the Earth Institute at Columbia University as a Research Intern Associate. One of my functions was to assist the Institute in the development of curricula in the areas of sustainability metrics and climate change adaptation. I also completed a Masters of Science degree in Sustainability Management, served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Student Association, was employed as a teaching assistant for two Earth Institute graduate classes, was co-founder and special advisor for the Columbia University Coalition for Sustainable Development, collaborated in the organization of the New York+20 conference, and worked closely with Earth Charter International, for which I presented a webinar about sustainability education and the ethics of sustainability.

Last year, I was the recipient of the Columbia University Innovation Scholarship Award, which is awarded only to those who have demonstrated a commitment “to transform knowledge and understanding in service of the greater good, defined as a just, sustainable, and compassionate global society”.

It is clear to me, that this professional journey could not have been possible without the support of those small and under-resourced institutions that helped me in the moments when I needed them the most. I truly feel a moral obligation to give back to them. Thanks to the Kresge Foundation grant, the Recruitment Fellow and I will be able to fully dedicate our time in providing capacity building opportunities and implementation guidance to these institutions in their efforts to achieve carbon neutrality. We will also be able to assist these institutions with implementing programs in sustainability in order to provide their students with the tools, knowledge, and ethics necessary to construct a just and sustainable future for all.

Please feel free to contact me at any time at jgarcia@secondnature.org.

 

by David Hales, President, Second Nature

The opening words of the Renewables Global Futures Report, “The future of renewable energy is fundamentally a choice, not a foregone conclusion given technology and economic trends”, are music to the ears of any educator.

At our best, we teach that the fundamental goal of sustainability is the freedom to choose our own future, and that education at its most essential is about creating the capacity to make wise choices.

The Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century, and report author, Eric Martinot, have created a report that is enlightening and empowering. It provides both context and perspective on one of the most critical aspects of the transition to sustainability.

When we founded REN21 following the Bonn Conference on Renewable Energy of 2004, we were convinced that clean, abundant, predictable, and affordable renewable energy was necessary to fuel societies that aspire to being sustainable, stable, and just. We knew the promise was real, and we all underestimated how rapidly it would be realized.

In 2004, global investment in new renewable energy capacity hovered around $40 billion; in 2011 it exceeded $260 billion – more than the new investment in fossil fuels and nuclear energy combined. China, a renewable energy backwater in 2004 is the global leader. Most of the new power capacity added each year in Europe is from renewables.

The purpose of this report is not to predict the future. It is to give substance to the range of choice which is ours. It is a composite picture of the possible.

We at Second Nature assert that a renewable future is the essence of realizing the potential in the human story. Renewable energy is not just a plug-in alternative to the imperatives of fossil fuel; renewable energy makes a very different story possible … a story of more equitable distribution of wealth and opportunity, a story of empowered choices, a story which at its core is not driven by energy scarcity but by abundance.

The major challenges of the 21st century are all moral challenges: the gap between rich and poor, the increasing reliance on violence, both state-sponsored and indiscriminate, the impoverishment of our future in the service of today’s consumption. We have chosen the world which presents these choices in stark terms. The core lesson of education is that we can choose another path.

It’s early days yet; a future which is sustainable and just is not inevitable. Not only do we have to choose it as a vision, we have to choose it every day in our behavior. And education is critical to the choices we make. We cannot choose a future we cannot imagine, and we cannot achieve a future which is beyond our reach.

This report enlightens our vision and validates our choices. It is both a warning about the costs of business as usual, and a welcome to a world in which our children can live.

But don’t take my word for it – read it and choose for yourself.

David Hales
Vice-Chair, REN21
President, Second Nature

2013 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards

Recognizing Innovation and Excellence in Climate Leadership at Signatory Institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

Second Nature is pleased to announce the following institutions as Finalists for the 2013 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards.

2013-SNCLA-Finalist

Finalists were chosen from an outstanding pool of peer institutions, based on their commitment to climate and sustainability leadership and successful implementation of related programs, education, and partnerships.  The full criteria can be found here.

The Climate Leadership Awards highlight campus innovation and climate leadership to transition society to a clean, just, and sustainable future. Finalists are chosen from ACUPCC signatory institutions in good standing via a nomination process.  This year marks the fourth annual Climate Leadership Awards. Finalists will advance to be considered for a 2013 Award.

2013 Finalists for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership

  • Associate Colleges
    Bellevue College, WA
    Glendale Community College, AZ
    Saint Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, MO
    University of Hawaii Kauai Community College, HI
  • Baccalaureate College
    Carleton College, MN
    Hobart and William Smith Colleges, NY
    Middlebury College, VT
    Oberlin College, OH
  • Master’s Granting Institutions
    American Public University System, WV
    Chatham University, PA
    Goddard College, VT
    Western State Colorado University, CO
  • Doctorate Granting Institutions
    Georgia Institute of Technology, GA
    Indiana State University, IN
    Missouri University of Science & Technology, MO
    Portland State University, OR
    State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, NY
  • Special Focus Institutions
    Massachusetts Maritime Academy, MA
    Pratt Institute of Art & Design, NY
    University of Massachusetts Medical School, MA

In partnership with Planet Forward, all finalists will be featured in a public voting competition during April 2013, where viewers can vote on the most innovative and ground-breaking institution in each Carnegie Classification. Campuses with the top votes at the end of April will be featured in a variety of media opportunities.

Watch 2012 Finalists videos produced by Carleton CollegePratt Institute of Art & Design, and many others, on the Planet Forward site. Glendale Community College, Goddard College, and the Georgia Institute of Technology were also Finalists in the 2012 awards competition.

For more information about the Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards: http://secondnature.org/awards/

View 2012 Climate Leadership Award Recipients
View 2012 Climate Leadership Award Finalists
View 2011 Climate Leadership Award Recipients
View 2010 Climate Leadership Award Recipients

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