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By Adrien Tofighi, Program Assistant, Second Nature
(Review the symposium agenda, or download a PDF Summary of this post).

ACUPCC Logo

The 2012 ACUPCC Southeast Regional Symposium took place at Agnes Scott College, November 7-8th, 2012. ACUPCC Regional Symposiums are working sessions to foster dialogue and collaboration among ACUPCC signatories who are facing similar challenges and opportunities in their geographic regions.

The conference garnered participation from 45 colleges and universities, representing states throughout the Southeast, achieving cross-institutional dialogue, knowledge exchange, and the creation of new solutions to Climate Action planning, curriculum reform, and other key issues. This conference marked the third regional symposium hosted by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

David E. Shi, President Emeritus, Furman University

Opening Speakers

After a warm welcome by Agnes Scott College President Elizabeth Kiss, David E. Shi, President Emeritus of Furman University, opened the symposium on Wednesday evening. The keynote presentation, entitled “Sustainability in the South: An Oxymoron?” addressed some of the region’s most pressing questions regarding conservation, sustainability, and climate leadership.

Dr. Shi posed the questions: How can conservation thrive in a conservative culture, and how can higher education be the vanguard of cultural change? His talk shared statistics on the southeastern colleges and universities progress on climate and sustainability initiatives, and reviewed the need for campuses to move from singular sustainability projects to a centralized “hub” for large-scale transformational change.

Symposium Sessions

World Café: From Planning to Action

Participants kicked off the first full day of the conference with dynamic discussion and planning during the World Café, which allowed for reflections on leveraging campus resources in order to implement climate action planning solutions. Facilitated by Bonny Bentzin of GreenerU, the session focused around key themes related to communicating and engaging with the campus community.

Campus Sustainability Case Studies

Case studies from eight different institutions in three concurrent sessions were presented as a means to address the topically and geographically relevant problems that many campuses face, and share how these issues are being dealt with.

The first track, Financing, highlighted three institutions from North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky. A team from Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) including Cassidy Cannon, Sustainability Director, Robert Gaines, Special Assistant to the Chancellor, Charles Hall, Director of Design & Construction, Dennis Leary, Facilities Director, and Kent Anson, Vice President of Higher Education for Honeywell Building Solutions presented on the campus’s experience leveraging a comprehensive energy savings program to address deferred maintenance, energy costs, and sustainability goals. Howard Wertheimer, Director of Capital Planning & Space also discussed the lessons learned in building the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory (CNES), and Mitchell H. Payne, Associate Vice President for Business Affairs at the University of Louisville provided an overview of financing energy efficiency through energy savings performance contracting.

Hands-on learning at Furman University’s David E. Shi Center for Sustainability

In the second track, Sustainable Food and Community Engagement, Furman University’s Katherine Kransteuber, Program Coordinator at the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability shared the interdisciplinary faculty-student research initiative designed to study and further sustainable agriculture on campus and in the Carolinas. Stephanie Sims, Implementation Coordinator at Office of Sustainability at the University of Florida provided an overview of UF’s broad approach to involving stakeholders and addressing challenges and opportunities in food systems through partnerships and innovative programming, which included strategies such as “Food for Thought” outreach campaigns and University extension efforts and the Office of Sustainability at the regional and state level.

The third track, Addressing the Challenge of Coal began with a presentation by Susan Kidd, Director of Sustainability at Agnes Scott College, discussing the institutional challenge of cheap coal, and the college’s focus on funding options for energy efficiency and renewable energy,. Matt Earnest, Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development at Bridgemont Community and Technical College showcased how the institution’s Sustainability Institute is bringing together multiple organizations with varying viewpoints to promote sustainability through workforce education, academic enhancement, and community development. Gordie Bennett, Sustainability Manager at the University of Tennessee Knoxville also provided examples of their institutional path to a cleaner campus by converting the nearly 50-year old UT Knoxville Steam Plant to 100% natural gas and fuel oil, with a focus on the decision making process that weighed the social and economic implications of going coal free in the Tennessee Valley.

Lunch with the President’s Panel

Second Nature President David Hales moderated the President’s Panel which included Elizabeth Kiss from Agnes Scott College (GA), Kenneth Peacock, Chancellor of Appalachian State University (NC), and Beverly Daniel Tatum, President of Spelman College (GA), in a dialogue on how higher education in the Southeast can lead the way to a clean, green, and sustainable economy. Participants followed the discussion with a question and answer session on the challenges facing presidential leadership in supporting sustainability initiatives on campus.

Sustainability as a Pedagogical Process

To conclude the event, Tom Kelly, Director of the Sustainability Academy at the University of New Hampshire, facilitated a session to remind attendees of the broader goal of “educating for sustainability.” With the campus as a learning platform, every building, the food eaten, classes attended, grounds and landscaping, etc. “count as an opportunity to cultivate a global sustainability outlook.” This session presented a pedagogical process that considers building case studies from campus to guide the learning community to ask good questions, investigate, and find sustainable solutions.

Summary: Collaborating for Success

The ACUPCC Southeast Regional Symposium attendees created new strategies for climate leadership, shared the steps necessary for putting a plan to action in a region where sustainability can be challenging, and learned from both campus and industry leaders that the work they do is more vital than ever.

By providing tangible resources, contacts, and ideas to support both Presidents and their staff’s efforts on campus, with a regional focus highlighting the unique issues associated with electricity rates, government policies, energy supply, and public opinion of the region, institutions were empowered to create beneficial partnerships that will support their mutual development in the coming years. Participating sustainability teams made significant headway in overcoming the obstacles to fulfilling the Commitment, and creating lasting regional connections.

84 college and university, industry, and non-profit representatives participated in the Symposium, with attendance from Presidents and Chancellors, sustainability coordinators, facilities directors, faculty, students, and ACUPCC Corporate Sponsors.  Click here to view the list of attendees.

Thank You!

Second Nature would like to thank the staff of Agnes Scott College for their partnership in hosting the event, and Aramark for providing food for the event.  And a special thanks to all attendees who found exciting new opportunities for creating and implementing their Climate Action Plans, as well as creative solutions to the challenges of creating a sustainable campus.  Well done!

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For more information on upcoming ACUPCC events, visit presidentsclimatecommitment.org/news-events

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The State of Renewables in Higher Education

This webcast was broadcast on November 29th 2012, 2:00-3:00pm EST

Supporting Documents

Second Nature and the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership are collaborating to identify the barriers to expanding renewable energy use among colleges and universities, identify solutions, provide education and training on green power procurement strategies and explore the possibilities of joint purchasing opportunities.

To kick-off this partnership, Second Nature and EPA invite you to participate in an interactive event to learn more about trends and possibilities in colleges and universities incorporation of green power onto their campuses, and in their climate reduction goals.

The live event will stream on this page.  Please bookmark this link and register to participate in the event.

Leaning Objectives:

  • Understand the environmental, financial, and non-tangible benefits of procuring renewable electricity
  • Gain a better understanding of the challenges being faced by institutions trying to purchase or produce green power
  • Assess the current state of green power on campuses and potential for green power purchasing and production growth
  • Recognize the various procurement options for renewable electricity such as on-site generation, PPAs, project off-take arrangements, contracts for bundled or unbundled RECs
  • Identify new opportunities for learning and collaboration among institutions participating in the event

Webinar Panelists

  • David Hales, President, Second Nature
  • Blaine Collison, Program Director, Green Power Partnership, US EPA
  • Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
  • Jenn Andrews, Director of Program Planning and Coordination, Clean Air-Cool Planet
  • Anthony Amato, Senior Analyst, Energy and Climate Change, ERG

For more information or questions about this event, please contact info@secondnature.org.

About Second Nature
www.secondnature.org
Second Nature works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society beginning with the transformation of higher education. Second Nature is the support organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

About the EPA’s Green Power Partnership
www.epa.gov/greenpower 
The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use. The Partnership currently has more than 1,300 Partner organizations voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, small and medium sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and colleges and universities.

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How to Participate

This event will be broadcast using Google+ Hangouts on Air to a live YouTube video. Please be sure to reserve a room or space which is equipped to screen YouTube videos.  You will not need a Google+ account to participate.  On the day of the event, this page (the page you are currently viewing) will have the YouTube video streaming live.  Simply visit this page to begin screening the video at 2pm EST. Please note that the video will be posted no earlier than 1:45pm EST the day of the event.  If you are having trouble seeing the video, try refreshing the page or restarting your browser.

Submitting Questions

We invite you to submit questions to the panelists ahead of time to help guide the discussion! Please leave a comment at the end of this post with your question for one or all of the panelists.

If you would like to submit questions and participate in the interactive components of this event during the event, you will need a Google or YouTube account.  To ask a question, click on the “Watch on YouTube” button in the lower right hand corner of the video window.  This will take you to the live video on the Second Nature YouTube Channel.  To ask a question, sign in to your Google or YouTube account, then post your question in the “Comments” section below the video.  Your question will appear instantly to the moderator.

Unable to make this live broadcast?
A recording of the broadcast will be made available shortly after the event on the Second Nature YouTube Channel, and on this blog.  Please register if you would like to receive information about the recording or live broadcast.

Technical Difficulties?
Questions about how to screen this event, or having difficulty?  Email info@secondnature.org.

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Learn more in two new  posts from our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) about how students are getting involved for Campus Sustainability Day next week! Sustainable Students – Planning for Climate Change at a Campus Near You and Preparing for a Changing Climate with a Feast Down East provide some great opportunities to learn more about Campus Sustainability Day, and generate ideas for your campus events.

The following two posts originally appeared on the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Switchboard Blog.

Sustainable Students – Planning for Climate Change at a Campus Near You

By Tiffany Traynum, Communications and Campaigns Program Assistant

Photo from the NRDC Switchboard

(Excerpt) Today, one of the clear priorities of our younger generation is to mobilize in order to make a better, healthier future for this planet. Lucky for us there’s plenty of enthusiasm and opportunity to do just that.  But where do we start? We start by educating ourselves and having the sometimes difficult, yet exciting conversations that lead to a better future for everyone young and old.  One exciting opportunity presenting itself comes from our friends at Second Nature, preparing to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Campus Sustainability Day – a national day of action and reflection on the success of the sustainability movement in higher education…. READ MORE

Preparing for a Changing Climate with a Feast Down East

By: Kelly Henderson, Climate Center Program Assistant

Photo from the NRDC Switchboard

(Excerpt) How sustainable is your school? Do you find recycling bins in every building? Are there plans to design a greener infrastructure system? Does your dining hall supply local, organic produce, meats and dairy? These are among the many questions schools across the country are asking in order to lessen their carbon footprint and reach carbon neutrality. “Greening” higher education is paving the way forward for some of the largest institutions to empower hundreds of thousands of students with the knowledge they need to understand how to adapt to the changing climate and help spread the need for sustainable living.

This October marks the 10th anniversary of Campus Sustainability Day, a national day of action and reflection on the success of the sustainability movement in higher education. Each region of the country is doing something different to help bring sustainability home. In the Southeast especially, farm to table (or to dining hall), has become particularly important as a way to not only bring more local, sustainable food to students’ plates, but also a way to help small and limited resource farmers gain access to markets such as restaurants, grocers, hospitals and schools. READ MORE

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Campus Sustainability Day 2012

Campus Sustainability Day Keynote Broadcast 2012: Preparing Students for a Changing Climate

The Campus Sustainability Day 2012 Keynote Broadcast, Preparing Students for a Changing Climate, aired live on Wednesday October 24th, 2012.  Click on the video above to watch the broadcast.  Read below for more information about the program and events held for Campus Sustainability Day in 2012, and visit the 2012 CSD Second Nature website.

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Join us in celebrating the 10th anniversary of Campus Sustainability Day with a live panel discussing the role colleges and universities must play in creating sustainability education for all students which prepares the next generation of leaders to lead a just, healthy, and sustainable society.  How can colleges and universities prepare students for a changing climate, society, and economy through sustainability education?

The live event will stream on this page.  Please bookmark this link and register to participate in the event.

How to Participate

Preparing Students for a Changing Climate Keynote Broadcast
Register for the Keynote Broadcast on Your Campus
October 24th 2012, 2pm – 3:30pm EST

This event is free and open to all interested participants!  Use the link above to register. Then, on Wednesday October 24th at 2pm EST, join thought leaders in campus sustainability for a live video panel discussion!

About the Panelists
Featuring Dr. Geoffrey Chase, leader of the Ponderosa Project, Julie Elzanati, Director of the Illinois Green Economy Network, Debera Johnson, founder of the Partnership for Academic Leadership in Sustainability, Julian Keniry, Senior Director of Campus and Community Leadership, National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Program, and Neil Weissman, Provost, Dickinson College, this panel invites questions from the audience to discuss best practices for creating ecological curriculum, advancing experiential and living laboratory learning, and engaging faculty and the surrounding community in meaningful and critical education.  Panelists represent experience from across the higher education spectrum and bring a diverse range of ideas, solutions, and programmatic influences to the discussion.

About the Event
The keynote broadcast will be streamed using Google+ Hangouts on Air, using a live YouTube video. Please be sure to reserve a room or space which is equipped to screen YouTube videos.  You will not need a Google+ account to participate.  On the day of the event, this page (the page you are currently viewing) will have the YouTube video streaming live.  Simply visit this page to begin screening the video at 2pm EST.

Submitting Questions
If you would like to submit questions to the panelists, you will need a Google or YouTube account.  To ask a question, click on the “Watch on YouTube” button in the lower right hand corner of the video window.  This will take you to the live video on the Second Nature YouTube Channel.  To ask a question, sign in to your Google or YouTube account, then post your question in the “Comments” section below the video.  Your question will appear instantly to the moderator.

Note that you may not be able to see your question appear unless you refresh the page, which may interrupt your viewing – don’t worry, we’ve received your question.  Questions are text-submission only.You will not be live on camera, or using any audio or video, during the event.

If your account is personal or does not have identifying information, please leave your name, position, or college and university name in your question so we know who to address the question to!

Unable to make this live broadcast?
A recording of the broadcast will be made available shortly after the event on the Second Nature YouTube Channel, and on this blog.  Please register if you would like to receive information about the recording or live broadcast.

Technical Difficulties?
Questions about how to screen this event, or having difficulty?  Email event moderator Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate at Second Nature, at sbrylinsky@secondnature.org.

More Ways to Participate
Institutions are encouraged to participate in the keynote broadcast as a way to jumpstart regional conversations.  We want to hear from campuses across the country, and gather input from students, faculty, and staff on the best practices and remaining challenges for providing students with the skills and experiences they need.  Host a conversation on campus, gather for a virtual conversation with campuses in your region, or tune-in to one of the regional convesations organized in your area.  Appoint a student liaison to take notes – your conversations will be turned into a national guiding document on “Best Practices for Preparing Students for a Changing Climate.”

For more information visit www.secondnature.org/csd

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By Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the October, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThe celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Campus Sustainability Day (CSD) needed a topic appropriate to a moment in time when campuses have shown that the impossible is possible – changing the way they teach, operate, build, and plan in order to reduce emissions and prepare students to lead a just and sustainable future – while recognizing the challenges and opportunities still present in their journey to integrating deep sustainability education. This year, Second Nature and the CSD supporting organizations, including AASHE, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), The Society for College & University Planning (SCUP), USGBC, Focus the Nation, Tree Campus USA, the SEED Center, and IDEAS, are calling on campuses to participate in a national day of dialogue around a critical question which invites conversation on both success and continued roadblocks: How is higher education preparing students for a changing climate?

Campuses across the country are organizing discussions to gather input from students, faculty, and staff on the best practices and remaining challenges for providing students with the skills and experiences they need to prepare for a changing climate, society, and economy, using three guiding questions to form a common national dialogue.

Campus Sustainability Day 2012

Here’s how to participate:

#1: Screen the Keynote Broadcast on Your Campus
October 24th 2012, 2pm – 3:30pm EST
Join thought leaders in campus sustainability as they discuss best practices and challenges for preparing students for a changing climate, with an emphasis on curriculum, research, and experiential learning.

Featuring Geoffrey Chase, leader of the Ponderosa Project, Julie Elzanati, Director of the Illinois Green Economy Network, Julian Keniry, Senior Director of Campus and Community Leadership National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Program, Neil Weissman, Provost of Dickinson College, and Debera Johnson, founder of the Partnership for Leadership in Sustainability, this panel invites questions from the audience to discuss best practices for creating ecological curriculum, advancing experiential and living laboratory learning, and engaging faculty and the surrounding community in meaningful and critical education.

This is a live, interactive event!  Panelists will base their discussion on questions provided by you – the audience – during the panel, and will be screened using live video in Google+ Hangouts on Air.  The panel will be screened live to Youtube – no special login or software is necessary to watch, and you will be provided with the link after registration.  To ask questions, you will need a Google or YouTube login to leave comments on the video as a question for the panelists.  Institutions are encouraged to participate in the keynote broadcast as a way to jumpstart regional conversations.

#2: Host or Participate in a Regional Conversation 
October 22nd – October 26th 2012, Times and dates vary by region
Register or learn more here

How are you preparing students for a changing climate?  We want to hear from campuses across the country, and gather input from students, faculty, and staff on the best practices and remaining challenges for providing students with the skills and experiences they need.  Host a conversation on campus, gather for a virtual conversation with campuses in your region, or tune-in to one of the regional conversations organized in your area.  

Use these questions to guide the conversation:

  1. What is your college/region doing to prepare students for a changing climate?
  2. Where do challenges still exist for your campus/region in creating successful sustainability and climate programs, and what are the solutions to these challenges?
  3. How can your campus/region ensure that all students acquire the skills and education necessary to prepare for a changing climate, society, and economy, regardless of their course of study or career goals?

Be sure to appoint a student liaison to take notes – your conversations will be turned into a national guiding document on “Best Practices for Preparing Students for a Changing Climate.”

For questions about Campus Sustainability Day, please contact Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature at sbrylinsky@secondnature.org.

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By Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the July, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

Download the 2012 Climate Leadership Highlights PDF

Signatory Presidents at the 2012 Summit

Signatory presidents of the ACUPCC pose for a photograph during the opening reception

The 6th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Climate Leadership Summit took place June 21st-22nd in Washington, DC at American University. 53 signatory presidents and senior staff from over 65 institutions gathered to celebrate the first five years of the ACUPCC and to respond to the summit theme of Economic Renewal: jump-starting a sustainable economy through the ACUPCC.  The attendees discussed ways for advancing peer-to-peer learning and support across the ACUPCC, and identified next steps to foster the ongoing sustainability transformation of higher education by preparing students for the 21st century economy, increasing affordability and access through cost savings, and advancing innovation through research, experimentation, and role-modeling solutions in campus operations.

Special Report: Celebrating Five Years of Climate Leadership

Five Year Report

The ACUPCC released a special report: Celebrating Five Years of Climate Leadership | The Progress and Promise of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

A special report, Celebrating Five Years of Climate Leadership: The Progress and Promise of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, was released at the Summit, detailing successes from signatory campuses across the country and innovation in education, emissions reductions, financing, and more.

(more…)

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Last Friday, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel at the 2nd Annual Slow Living Summit in Brattleboro, VT.

‘Slow Living’ as described by the organizers; “…is shorthand for taking a more reflective approach to living and work; an approach that is mindful of  impacts on the environment, on Earth, and on communities; and that incorporates resilience —  our ability to “bounce back” from the consequences of climate change, resource depletion and other changes and stresses...“Slow” encodes the transformative change from faster and cheaper to slower and better—where quality, community and the future matter.”

The Summit program was broken into multiple tracks, covering a range of topics including community supported agriculture, media & journalism, sustainable investing & finance, community building, renewable energy, and education to name a few. For a detailed description of the program click here.

Our session was titled, EDUCATION: Sustainability in Higher Education: Leadership by Example? It was moderated by Jerelyn Wilson, Outreach Director at Building Green LLC, and included the following panelist:

  • David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies & Politics, Oberlin College
  • Philip Ackerman-Leist, Director, Farm & Food Project, Green Mountain College
  • Anim Steel, Director of National Programs, The Food Project

Each panelist gave a 10-minute presentation describing our organization, role, and the personal connection to the work that we do. I led off with an overview of Second Nature, the ACUPCC, and a high level assessment of the US college and university sustainability movement. For my personal connection, I gave an abbreviated version on what I shared last year in our Second Nature team series about why we do what we do.

David Orr provided his usual terrific commentary on the higher education sustainability movement, including some historical  context on how formal education contributes to perpetuating an unsustainable society. He also shared his background in the movement including starting the Meadowcreek Project, a 1600 acre wildlife preserve in Arkansas devoted to sustainable education and recreation. He concluded his presentation with his current focus on revitalizing downtown Oberlin, OH. Called The Oberlin Project, it aims is to build a resilient local economy by eliminating carbon emissions, restoring local agriculture, the food supply and forestry, and creating a new, sustainable base for economic and community development.

Philip Ackerman-Leist discussed Green Mountain College’s (GMC) efforts to support Vermont’s rich farming heritage. Current research being conducted at GMC includes the Long Term Ecological Assessment of Low Energy Farming Systems (LEAFS), the Sustainable Purchasing Initiative, the Viability of Flash-Freezing Technologies for enhancing local foods in the institutional and charitable food systems, and Integrating High Tunnel Crop Production & Renewable Energy Systems. GMC is a terrific example of institution’s positive community impact when it makes sustainability a strategic imperative.

Anim Steele, discussed his role in creating the Real Food Challenge and his support of students to have a dialogue with their institutions to commit and help create a healthy, fair, and green food system. The Real Food Challenge is working “to shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources—what we call “real food”—by 2020.” Anim shared that he sees a new generation of students that are comfortable with ‘peapods’ and ‘ipods’, and are integrating their world of technology with the need to move forward to the land.

After the presentations, we engaged in a lively discussion with the participants. We covered a range of topics from how we learn to what is community? I continue to be amazed at the level of work and sophistication that colleges and universities are undertaking to advance sustainability. I want to thank the Slow Living Summit for the opportunity to participate and to share the excellent work being done by colleges and universities to an audience beyond its borders!

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