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Happy New Year! We’re thrilled to kick off 2012 with the newly redesigned Resources & Support section of the ACUPCC website. Watch the video below for a quick tour, then visit the website to browse the resources in a new, user-friendly way.

ACUPCC resources are always free for signatories of the commitment.

Send your feedback, suggestions, and comments to rmulla@secondnature.org.

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Reposted from Switchboard: The National Resource Defense Council Staff Blog.
By Kelly Henderson, Climate Center Program Assistant, NRDC

These days, it’s tough to be an environmentalist on the national level. The current “Right-heavy” House pays little to no attention to the health impacts related to air pollution and is too focused on tying EPA’s hands when it comes to regulating toxics and other air pollutants from prominent sources such as power plants. Those Representatives mindlessly claim that supporting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would kill jobs and cause further harm to an already weakened economy – parroting unproven rhetoric. If you do much of any related reading, you’d know they’re wrong. As a youth advocate for living sustainably and helping to curb the effects of climate change, it can be an especially frustrating and challenging situation as you may feel your voice is not being heard on the Hill. Many students and members of the millennial generation are facing this challenge every day.

Even though the federal government is in complete disagreement over how to progress with enacting legislation that would help ease the effects of climate change and allow for more sustainable initiatives throughout the country, there is still hope! Some state and local governments have grabbed the reins and decided to enact their own Climate Change Action Plans (CCAP). A CCAP lays out a strategy, including specific policy recommendations that a local government will use to address climate change and reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” Many of these plans anticipate similar outcomes including but not limited to: increasing water and energy efficiency, improving air quality and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, setting standards for renewable vehicles percentages and an overall “greening” of the specific city, county or district.

What’s even more exciting is that many of these cities that have established their own CCAP are fueled by the energy of thousands of environmentally passionate students at large, sustainably-committed universities in those very same cities. The American College and University President’s Climate Commitment
(ACUPCC)
is a method that is leading the way for several hundred colleges and universities across the country to become more sustainable by eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions and promoting educational strides in an effort to address global warming and climate change.
To read more about what exactly the commitment is, what it does and to see a full list of college presidents who have signed it, read my previous blog here.

Let’s take a brief look at the CCAP in five cities across that country and the universities that are located in those cities who have signed the President’s Climate Commitment:

1.       Pima County, Arizona: home to ACUPCC Signatory Arizona State University and over 70,440 green-minded students.

Pima County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a sustainability initiative on May 1, 2007 which set specific goals to be achieved on set deadlines on everything from alternative-fuel vehicles to green building to land and water management and conservation to waste reduction. All of these sustainability goals are set on a five year action plan with incremental changes marked for each fiscal year.

In addition to Pima County’s initiatives, Arizona State University has taken the lead on advancing an unparalleled effort to install nearly 20MW of solar power across its four campuses by 2014.

2.       Los Angeles, California: home of UCLA, California State University and over 73,010 green-minded students.

 The city of Los Angeles released its climate action plan, Green LA: An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming, in May 2007. The Plan sets forth a goal of reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions to 35% below 1990 levels by the year 2030, one of the most aggressive goals of any big city in the U.S.

In addition to Los Angeles’ Green LA program, students at UCLA have a Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) that raises $200,000 per year for UCLA sustainability projects. Additionally, starting in 2009, all new construction and major renovations at UCLA must be certified LEED Silver or higher.

Click here to continue reading this article….

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Governor Quinn’s GGCC Sustainable Universities and Colleges SymposiumBy Adrienne LaBranche Tucker, Ph.D., Associate Director of The Green Institute @ Heartland Community College

On October 28th, Heartland Community College in Normal, IL hosted the 6th annual Governor Quinn’s Green Government Coordinating Council Sustainable Universities and Colleges Symposium. Around 350 attendees from all across Illinois joined in a day of higher education sustainability best practice sharing.  The day’s activities started with presentations from Heartland Community College’s President, Dr. Alan Goben, the Town of Normal Mayor, Chris Koos, the Executive Director of the Illinois Green Economy Network, Julie Elzanati, and of course Governor Pat Quinn.

Speakers, workshops, and panel discussions covered topics such as sustainable renovation and construction, energy efficiency, renewable energy, conservation, environmental education and service learning, water and waste reduction, student engagement in greening the campus, applications of benchmarking and reporting tools like the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact, STARS, ACUPCC and more.

The remainder of the day included breakout sessions covering topics from implementing the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact to implementing geothermal on your campus and sustaining employment through workforce development and training.  Attendees also investigated the Town of Normal’s two Mitsubishi “i” EV cars along with local dealers’ Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf all while enjoying locally sourced food thanks to the Normal Community West High School culinary arts program.

Every year the symposium offers free attendance thanks to the support of exhibitors and sponsors.  This year 13 organization sponsoring from a $500 to $2,000 level, 12 nonprofit exhibitors and 6 for profit exhibitors supported the cost. All food and paper waste was collected for the Illinois State University compost farm.

Here is a local news article about the event: http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/education/article_ec6871da-01c5-11e1-b18e-001cc4c002e0.html?mode=story

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Higher Education’s Role in Adapting to a Changing ClimateHuman society is facing an unprecedented rate of change due to a very rapidly shifting climate.  This is resulting in already-documented vulnerabilities to human communities,” said Dr. David A. Caruso, President of Antioch University New England.  “As this report makes clear, higher education institutions are well-positioned and ready to leverage the best of our faculty and students to empower people to rapidly respond, in effective, just and transparent ways, to a changing world.

Read the news release about the report, learn about the committee responsible for authoring it, or download the PDF.

Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the ACUPCC, and Clean Air – Cool Planet administered the committee and supported the development of the report.

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The University of Maryland, College Park receives Second Nature’s 2nd Annual Climate Leadership Award. Award recipients were recognized at the 5th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Washington, DC on June 23rd, hosted by George Washington University.

After becoming a charter signatory of the ACUPCC in 2007, former University President Dan Mote convened a 55-member Climate Action Plan Work Group with broad student, faculty, and staff representation to develop the University’s plan for reaching carbon neutrality and enhancing educational and research activities. The University Senate and President approved the Climate Action Plan in 2009 and created a permanent University Sustainability Council to oversee implementation of the Plan and to advise the President (currently Wallace Loh) on sustainability issues. The Council also oversees the University Sustainability Fund, which this year provided $150,000 to nine projects that seek to reduce the environmental impact of the campus. The Council is chaired by the Vice President for Administration and has representation from all other Vice Presidents, students, faculty, and staff.

The University of Maryland has made great strides to address the mandates of the ACUPCC, including achieving significant GHG emissions reductions and integrating sustainability across the curriculum. Campus emissions decreased by 8.5% between 2005 and 2009 despite campus growth. Remarkably, emissions decreased 6.6% between 2008 and 2009 alone. The University is currently conducting its annual emissions inventory and expects a reduction of 40,352 MT-CO2e in 2010 due to the University’s purchase of 66,000 RECs, which represents a 14% reduction of the 2009 carbon footprint, this put Maryland #6 on the EPA Green Power Purchasers list. Successes in the area of emissions reductions and resource conservation inspired the new campus sustainability motto, “Terps leave small footprints.”

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The University of Maine receives Second Nature’s 2nd Annual Climate Leadership Award for Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 5th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Washington, DC on June 23rd, hosted by George Washington University.

President Robert Kennedy, Vice President for Administration and Finance Janet Waldron, and Executive Director of Facilities and Planning Elaine Clark – along with faculty, staff, and students – are all active participants in the University of Maine Sustainability Alliance, which has been responsible for the development of the university’s climate action plan. The office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance also coordinated the creation of the award-winning and sustainability-focused campus master plan. UMaine’s senior administration is currently working to harmonize the implementation of these two plans and to create an overarching sustainability plan to guide university decision-making and development.

UMaine is proud of several new graduate programs that will provide its students with exceptional opportunities to become environmental leaders. These include the Sustainability MBA and an M.S. degree (and undergraduate minor) in Renewable Energy and the Environment which will take advantage of the tremendous Offshore-Wind Laboratory that will be completed later this year. The University also offers an M.A. in Global Policy, with a concentration in International Environmental Policy. UMaine is confident that these programs (along with its Student Innovation Center) will create a dynamic community of learners focused on renewable energy, sustainability, and innovation.

During 2009-2010, UMaine received nearly $50 million in external funding to support sustainability-related research. In addition to creating solutions to environmental problems in Maine (Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative), UMaine researchers are working to deepen the understanding of climate change (UMaine’s Climate Change Institute), and to develop new technologies that will catalyze significant change in the renewable energy industry (UMaine’s Offshore Wind Laboratory and Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative).

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University of California, Irvine receives Second Nature’s 2nd Annual Climate Leadership Award. Award recipients were recognized at the 5th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Washington, DC on June 23rd, hosted by George Washington University.

UC Irvine’s award-winning sustainability program builds on the University of California’s (UC) comprehensive Policy on Sustainability Practices encompassing Green Building Design, Clean Energy, Climate Protection, Sustainable Transportation, Sustainable Operations, Recycling and Waste Management, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, and Sustainable Food Services. With the support of Chancellor Michael Drake, Wendell Brase, UC Irvine’s Vice Chancellor for Administrative & Business Services, leads UC’s systemwide Climate Solutions Steering Group and UC Irvine’s Sustainability Committee. Brase is frequently invited to speak at regional and national conferences addressing carbon reduction on university and college campuses.

In 2007, UC committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 2000 levels by 2014, 1990 levels by 2020, and net zero emissions as soon as possible. UC Irvine developed its own strategy to achieve these GHG reductions and is on track to meet 2014 and 2020 goals. Since 2007, the campus has reduced CO2e emissions by 34,060 metric tons by employing a Strategic Energy Partnership Program (SEP), on-site renewable energy, transportation demand management, and a Green Building Program. Eight UC Irvine buildings bear the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold rating for new construction, the most at any U.S. campus. Staff bring the innovation and commitment instrumental to the success of all of these efforts.

This year, UC Irvine completed Phase I of its SEP, the most far-reaching energy efficiency and conservation program attempted by any California campus. This program resulted in annual savings of 16,000 metric tons of GHG emissions, which will be sustained year after year. UC Irvine is now implementing Phase 2. During the two-year implementation period, the campus expects to save 17 million kWh and 150,000 therms of natural gas, exceeding the benchmark achieved in Phase I. This goal, if achieved, will again surpass the energy-efficiency savings of all other California campuses.

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