By January 15, 2012 nearly 400 ACUPCC signatories will submit a progress report on their Climate Action Plan (CAP). The contents of the Progress Report form are now available for review.
This reporting milestone marks an important stage in ongoing, unprecedented efforts of this network to publicly report on activities to eliminate operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide the education, research, and community engagement to enable the rest of society to do the same. Because of these tremendous efforts that the ACUPCC Reporting System now includes more than 400 CAPs and almost 1300 GHG reports available for public viewing! Further solidifying higher education’s leadership to educate and transform society to a just, healthy, and low – carbon future.
Goals of the New Progress Report Form
In March of this year the ACUPCC Steering Committee announced its decision to move all signatories to one reporting date. In April Second Nature took over the management of the ACUPCC Reporting System. This provided time for the ACUPCC staff at Second Nature, working with an advisory group of Implementation Liaisons to develop the Progress Report content to meet the following objectives:
- Data should be useful to signatories in assessing and advancing their own sustainability goals
- Data should be collected in a way that it can be aggregated to demonstrate the progress of the initiative as a whole and to accelerate the collective learning of the network
- Data should align to the extent possible with existing reporting tools to reduce reporting fatigue
- The form should inform those signatories early in the implementation process what data should be collected
The Progress Report will help signatories assess and track progress toward the goals outlined in their Climate Action Plans, and share that progress with their stakeholders and the general public.
This reporting is also essential in demonstrating the success of the overall initiative, and the progress that that sector as a whole has made in an incredibly short period of time. Making the cumulative impact of this progress clear is critical in demonstrating to the rest of society that it is still possible to avoid the worst impacts of climate disruption, and that with concerted, collective effort significant progress can be made in reducing emissions and creating new, innovative solutions for meeting our needs more effectively. Demonstrating this progress is also necessary in order to secure foundation funding for the ACUPCC, soliciting corporate support, and recruiting new signatories, all of which help to keep ACUPCC dues as low as possible.
This briefing paper — Why Public Reporting Matters — provides more details on why reporting is such a critical component of sustainability leadership.
Notable Updates to the Progress Report Form
The Progress Report includes required data fields that you should be aware of and prepared to report on. In signing the Commitment, signatories agree to develop an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral, which will include a target date for achieving climate neutrality as soon as possible and interim targets for goals and actions that will lead to climate neutrality. Thus, “TBD” (to be determined) will no longer be an option; to submit progress reports and remain in good standing, signatories will be required to choose a target date for achieving climate neutrality, and provide at least two interim milestone emission-reduction targets. If institutions provided responses to these questions in the CAP form, those will be automatically populated in the Progress Report (these can be updated or changed at any time).
Alignment with AASHE STARS
The Progress Report has expanded options for reporting on efforts related to the education, research, and community engagement components of the Commitment. To reduce the reporting burden on colleges and universities participating in multiple sustainability initiatives, these questions align with AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System (STARS) credits and criteria. These questions are aligned with STARS for the following reasons:
- The development of STARS was the result of a collaborative, transparent process that involved hundreds of individuals in the higher education and sustainability community. STARS credits will continue to be assessed and refined using the same process.
- There is significant overlap between ACUPCC requirements and STARS credits. For example, completing a GHG inventory, creating a climate action plan, and incorporating sustainability in the curriculum contribute to fulfilling the ACUPCC and earning STARS credits.
- STARS provides the most comprehensive framework for comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements for sustainability activities in all sectors of higher education
Signatories that are STARS participants will only need to provide a link to their STARS report. For signatories that are not STARS participants, STARS criteria can serve as guidance, or institutions can use their own methodologies and processes for measuring, tracking and reporting progress.
The Progress Report form will go live online in November or December. Signatories may request an extension of up to four months to complete the Progress Report. Please be sure to review the Progress Report form.
If you have questions or comments contact Toni Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org 617 722 0036 ext. 210 or Stephen Muzzy email@example.com ext. 208. The ACUPCC staff at Second Nature is standing by to support your implementation efforts in any way possible.
Finally, the ACUPCC staff would like to thank the following Implementation Liaisons that served in an advisory capacity by offering feedback and recommendations during the development of the Progress Report – Bowen Close, Director, Sustainability Integration Office Pomona College; Sally DeLeon, Sustainability Measurement Coordinator, University of Maryland; Elise Glassman, Project Manager, University of Washington; Andy Pattison, Sustainability Officer, Auraria Higher Education Center, and Cherie Peacock, Sustainability Coordinator, the University of Montana.