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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.

 

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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

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by David Hales, President, Second Nature

As we move toward the release of the 2013 United States National Climate Assessment, various background resources used in the process are becoming available. I think this material is the richest, clearest, and best documented information available – and user friendly. I’ll post links to the Assessment when it becomes available. Feel free to share this reference material widely.

The link below will take you to and provide information about a suite of climate and other scenarios produced as input to the U.S. National Climate Assessment. There are documents, graphics, references to data sets, and other resources that have been prepared to depict a range of plausible future conditions against which risks, vulnerability, and opportunities can be assessed at regional and national scale.

In addition to providing input to the National Climate Assessment, these scenarios are designed to be useful to a variety of other users including researchers, technical report teams, and decision makers. Over the next several years, we expect to evolve the scenarios to keep them up to date and make them as user friendly as possible, in support of the ongoing assessment process.

http://scenarios.globalchange.gov/

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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.

_______

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

ACUPCC ImplementerScope 3, or indirect emissions not covered by Scope 2, are a challenging set of categories to gather data for in greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, but are essential for campuses to fully account for their upstream and downstream climate footprint.  Greenhouse gas reporting for the ACUPCC requires signatories to submit two categories of Scope 3 emissions: regular daily commuting to and from campus by students, faculty, and staff and air travel paid for by or through the institution. The

ACUPCC encourages signatories to go beyond these requirements and submit additional indirect emissions categories. An analysis of ACUPCC GHG reports demonstrates that many signatories have chosen to report additional scope 3 emission categories.  Of the 93% of the signatories that have submitted at least one GHG report, 65% have included information on their solid waste emissions and 20.6% have elected to report custom scope 3 emissions.

Custom Scope 3 Sources for ACUPCC GHG Reporting

ACUPCC signatories had reported these custom Scope 3 sources in publicly submitted greenhouse gas inventories as of August 2012 (Data taken from rs.acupcc.org)

Taking a closer look at the GHG custom scope 3 sources, it becomes clear that institutions report on areas of both common concern and programmatic significance, with sources ranging from standard (paper procurement) to the highly specific (animal husbandry).  Over 180 unique scope 3 sources have been reported, but further analysis shows that the majority of these sources fall under four main categories: Travel, Paper, Water, and electricity Transmission & Distribution Losses.  An additional 12% of these custom sources can be categorized as “Other” with more specific accounting.

Transmission & distribution losses, or T&D losses, make up the largest reporting category, accounting for 36% of custom scope 3 sources.  Essentially, T&D accounts for the energy lost during electricity transmission, which is a known grid inefficiency.  According to US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, national, annual T&D losses average about 7% of the electricity that is transmitted in the United States, making T&D losses a logical first step for those concerned with fully accounting upstream indirect emissions.

The ACUPCC hosted a webinar Expanding Scope 3 Emissions Tracking and Reporting on September 5, 2012 in partnership with Clean-Air Cool Planet, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, and the New College of Florida.  Panelists discussed the possibilities for campuses to expand their Scope 3 emissions sources in order to account for a fuller emissions baseline by using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s newly revised Scope 3 Reporting Standard as a framework for submitting additional custom scope 3 sources, such as T&D, which is considered an “upstream activity” or “investments,” from the college’s endowment, as a “downstream” activity.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s 15 Scope 3 Reporting Standard emissions categories

 The GHG Protocol has just ended a public comment period (July 2012) on an amendment that revises the Corporate, Scope 3 and Product Life Cycle Standards to require the reporting of all UNFCCC GHGs and the use of a more consistent set of Global Warming Potentials (GWP). The update does not affect ACUPCC Scope 3 required reporting, but signatories that are looking at their supply chain emissions should read up on the amendment.

For many of the custom sources reported outside of the ACUPCC requirements for scope 3, there is some question as to whether categories are being double-counted, or belong in a different component of the report.  (For those unfamiliar with the requirements of the ACUPCC reports, the Instructions for Submitting a Greenhouse Gas Report may be useful).  Additionally, some campuses may be choosing to segment scope 3 or other emissions categories for their own projects or accounting purposes, causing some inconsistencies in reporting.  For instance, Biogenic sources created by the combustion of biomass and biomass-based fuels may already accounted for as a Scope 1 source (stationary and/or mobile combustion) in the GHG report, and Study Abroad Air Travel is already included under Scope 3 Air Travel accounting.

ACUPCC Custom Scope 3 sources

Click for an expanded version of the custom scope 3 sources, by category, in ACUPCC public greenhouse gas reports

Categories involving emissions related to water (potable, waste, thermal), food procurement, and investment are of particular interest to campuses and student groups, but with few examples of successful and long-term accounting are currently present to act as leadership models.

For instance, a new study by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCI) and Tellus Institute, “Environmental, Social and Governance Investing by College and University Endowments in the United States: Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Relations,” found that college and university endowments’ environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investments are “less prevalent than often believed, particularly given their history as sustainable investing pioneers dating back to 1970s anti-apartheid campaigns.”  Watch a webinar on the report findings here, or read the press release.

In future GHG reports and the development of reporting for higher education, the role of scope 3 emissions may grow to include accounting for some of these areas in a more formal and ongoing manner as new resources and tools become available.  The streamlined reporting in Clean Air-Cool Planet’s soon to be released web-based Campus Carbon Calculator will be among these tools: look for a first release in Fall 2012.

Additionally, the GHG Protocol is working on the development of a reporting standard for assessing the impact of downstream endowment emissions, a tool which, when completed, could provide an essential new tool for students and campuses to assess the climate impact of their endowments.

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By Stephen Muzzy, Senior Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the June, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The ACUPCC’s 5th year celebration also marks an important stage in the ongoing, unprecedented efforts of the 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 the ACUPCC Reporting System now includes 1585 GHG reports, 465 Climate Action Plans, and 240 Progress Reports on the Climate Action Plan! Public reporting by ACUPCC signatories demonstrates transparency and integrity for each institution’s commitment and contributes to the collective learning of the network and general public. The ACUPCC Reporting System also allows signatories to track, assess, and communicate progress to their campus community and beyond, demonstrating to prospective students, foundations, and potential private sector partners that their institution is serious and transparent about its commitment to climate change and sustainability. The individual efforts taken together are demonstrating impressive results and the growing impact of the network to prepare graduates and provide the necessary solutions for a sustainable future.

Making an Impact

The ACUPCC’s earliest signatories have had more than four years to assess, plan and begin implementing their Climate Action Plans allowing them to:

  • Build institutional capacity to foster career preparedness for their students through curriculum development
  • Secure funding for and from climate and sustainability efforts and;
  • Demonstrate leadership in institutional research and innovation

Preparedness

Understanding sustainability is requisite for career preparedness in the 21st century. ACUPCC institutions are employing a range of innovative approaches to ensure that climate and sustainability issues are incorporated into the educational experience of all students.  The 240 institutions that submitted a Progress Report on their Climate Action Plan to date have reported the following data:

Curriculum

  • 76,935 graduates covered by sustainability learning outcomes.
  • 175 signatories combine to offer 9,548 courses focused on sustainability
  • 112 require all students to have sustainability as a learning objective
  • 66 have offered professional development to all faculty in sustainability education.
  • 49 have included sustainability learning outcomes in institutional General Education Requirements.
  • 37 have included sustainability in fulfilling regional or state accreditation requirements.
  • 18 have included sustainability learning outcomes, tracks, or certificates in every academic major.

Research

  • 11,223 faculty members are engaged in sustainability research
  • 119 signatories have faculty engaged in sustainability research
  • 114 have a program to encourage student climate and/or sustainability research
  • 85 have a program to encourage faculty climate and or sustainability research
  • 67 have a policy that recognizes interdisciplinary research in faculty promotion and tenure.

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By Michele Madia, Director, Sustainability Finance & Strategy, Second Nature
(This article appears in the June, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The National Association of College & University Business Officers (NACUBO), Second Nature and the ACUPCC will release a policy brief report at the ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit that explores how the federal government can develop and enhance energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives and investments specific to the nonprofit higher education sector.

The higher education sector is well positioned to lead the nation in implementing deep energy efficiency projects and renewable energy technologies. Colleges and universities own and manage thousands of buildings, heat and cool millions of square feet of space, and in many instances, operate their own thermal and electric power generation facilities. According to the latest reports from ACUPCC schools, 104 institutions have secured $195.7 million in outside funding to support their commitment to eliminate their operational greenhouse gas emissions and 158 institutions have implemented energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that have generated savings of $104 million. However, for many colleges and universities financing such projects can be challenging because current government incentives are most often designed for business and industry and not for the tax-exempt sector.

4 kW Solar Array at Appalachian State University. Photo courtesy of Marie Freeman/Appalachian State University

Since the launch of the ACUPCC in 2007, the network has identified financing as a key focus area in enabling signatories, the higher education sector as a whole, and society more broadly, in creating a low-carbon economy.  In 2009, NACUBO in collaboration with Second Nature published “Financing Sustainability on Campus” — a resource detailing a range of financing strategies and options available to campuses. In 2011, the ACUPCC Financing Committee was formed to identify challenges and opportunities related to financing and prioritize efforts of the ACUPCC network in removing financial barriers to implementing sustainability projects on campuses.

(more…)

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