Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

By Peter Bardaglio, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Welcome to the October-November 2012 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Photo Credit: Wrexie Bardaglio

Student Divestment Movement at Cornell and IC Heats Up

By K.C. Alvey, TCCPI Assistant Coordinator and 350.0rg Field Organizer

As part of a national 20-city tour called “Do the Math,” Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and other well-known speakers have hit the road this fall to call attention to what McKibben calls “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” As McKibben wrote in his now famous Rolling Stone article this past July, the fossil fuel industry currently has 2,795 gigatons of carbon in proven coal, oil, and gas reserves, five times more than the maximum 565 gigatons the world can emit and keep warming below 2°C, a target scientists widely agree is necessary to prevent runaway climate change.

Cornell students call on the university to divest from fossil fuels.
Photo Credit: K.C. Alvey

In the lead-up to “Do the Math,” students across the country launched fossil fuel divestment campaigns at over 30 college campuses, taking campus sustainability to the next level. Here

in Tompkins County, Cornell University and Ithaca College students are joining the movement to leverage nearly $400 billion in university endowments across the country to take on the climate crisis. As part of a national movement, students are calling for trustees and administrators to commit to 100 percent divestment from the fossil fuel industry and to reinvest these funds in sustainable, socially responsible investments.

At At both Cornell and Ithaca College, student groups have been working hard this fall to build student support and raise awareness about this important campaign. Through teach-ins, petitioning, social media, letters to the editor, and actions at their respective board of trustees meetings, students are making the moral urgency of this campaign clear.

Cornell’s student group KyotoNOW is calling for 100 percent fossil fuel divestment for the university’s $5 billion endowment by 2020. According to Madeline Tingle, Cornell ’16, “It is critical that the trustees begin this transition to more responsible investments now to maintain the endowment’s long-term financial sustainability and to reflect Cornell’s commitments to carbon neutrality.” She observed that the endowment is intended to provide support for the university’s educational mission, which includes public service and responsible stewardship.

With an endowment of over $200 million, Ithaca College’s Environmental Leadership & Actions Network has set a goal of complete divestment from the fossil fuel industry by 2015, full transparency regarding IC’s endowment and investments, and the creation of a task force to monitor socially responsible investment. Jessie Braverman, Ithaca College ’16 said that she felt “confident that we can change the world, starting with this crucial step of influencing Ithaca College and other schools across the country to divest from fossil fuels.”


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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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By Van Du, Program Associate

Ouack, Pack, and Quack show their supports for Second Nature Carrot For A Cause, so should you!

Okay, so it’s not “Make Way for Ducklings and Carrots” in Mr. Robert McCloskey’s story, but Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack, are up to something lately!

Now that they have mastered swimming and diving lessons, Quack, the youngest duckling, informs me that they currently have an even bigger mission to accomplish: HELPING SECOND NATURE WIN A WEBSITE MAKEOVER OPPORTUNITY!  Why, you might ask? Because once upon a time, the ducklings woud like to learn more about Second Nature’s Affiliate Membership program, but could not locate the information and got rather discouraged with the current SN website layout, which was designed sometime in the 20th century.  Hrm.  Something’s gotta change…And so, since July 23rd, they have marched to the Boston Public Library everyday and casted their votes for Second Naturein the Carrots For A Cause  contest—a website redesign competition for Massachusetts non-profit organizations, hosted by Boston-based website design firm, Jackrabbit Design.

With only 15 more days to go, the ducklings are committed to voting daily for Second Nature through August 12th .  They believe that everyday is a new day and every vote counts.  That’s right.

Eight votes from the duckings give us a great start everyday, but we need all your help as well! So, please vote daily, vote often, and spread the word to anyone you think would like to support Second Nature’s mission!  A new website for Second Nature would go a long way in helping us support and accelerate all of our efforts in creating a sustainable society.

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On April 30, 2012, the 3rd Annual Massachusetts Sustainable Economy Conference was presented by Integrative Sustainability & Environmental Solutions (ISES) in Boston, MA. ISES, an environmental consulting initiative led by Crystal Johnson.The conference leveraged a variety of discussions on the community and business practices that cultivate a sustainable economy. Higher education plays a critical role in this conversation as the educational driver which creates meaningful programs for career preparedness, community innovation, and participatory citizenship in order to prepare students to create a sustainable future.

Participants included local and multinational businesses, higher education representatives, chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.  the daylong conference was divided into three main informational sessions with topics including: Active Citizenship for Sustainable Communities, Principles of Product Stewardship and Supply Chain, Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion in Business, and Emerging Energy Issues and Technologies. The final session for the conference was a full-attendee dialogue on “The Role of Women in Creating a 21st Century Economy.”

In “Active Citizenship for Sustainable Communities,” session leader Pat Stewart, President of the North Country Sustainability Center, discussed NCSC’s shift from what was originally created to provide a community kitchen for local agricultural value-added demands, to a regional hub for practical sustainability practices. Recognizing the increasing demand for, and value of, traditional knowledge, NCSC has expanded its services to offer a wide range of guild workshops on topics ranging from weaving and cheese making to masonry, all of which are offered by local experts, or as Pat noted “older folks who don’t even realize they are experts”. The NCSC model represented a critical dialogue point between “formal” and “informal” educational institutions, modeling from the latter steps towards creating a local economy which can depend on local production as well as preserve an array of increasingly vanishing traditional knowledge.

Alongside the community center and the small business owners attending the conference, Chamber of Commerce leaders discussed different effective partnerships with town/city leaders, other business owners, and local schools. One example of this was the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce’s partnership with Nexamp to form the Merrimack Valley Clean Energy Partnership (MVCEP). “The Chamber was awarded a $500,000 contract through a competitive bidding process to provide clean energy consulting and energy monitoring to 31 Merrimack Valley companies” and as a result, received the Northeastern Economic Developers Association “Program of the Year” award in 2011.

In addition to the continuing discussions on supply chain management, urban agriculture techniques, and community partnerships, the conference placed a special emphasis on the role of diversity and minorities in the shift towards a sustainable economy. During the final, all-conference dialogue devoted to the role of women in creating the 21st century economy, Jackie VanderBrug discussed the role of gender lens investing at a business and individual level as a critical sustainability lens. Another imperative aspect of this session was the dire need and current process of getting more women in leadership positions, such as the 20% by 20 campaign. Steven Grossman, State Treasurer and Receiver General, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, opening keynote for the session, underscored the role of partnerships as a baseline method for accountability and progressive reform.

As a cross-sector conference, the 3rd Annual Massachusetts Sustainable Economy Conference provided critical points of conversation on a range of sustainable economy intersections, at which the role of education stood out as a strong partnership imperative, and critical point of movement necessary to shift policy and practice throughout Massachusetts communities.

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On April 19th, Eastern Connecticut State University and their Institute for Sustainable Energy hosted the Green Campus Conference to discuss Public Act 11-80. The bill requires the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to develop a comprehensive State Energy Plan and establish a variety of new programs to promote clean energy and energy efficiency.

DEEP recently launched the Lead-By-Example (LBE) program requiring energy use in State owned and operated buildings to be reduced by 10% by January 1, 2013, and another 10% by January 1, 2018. The LBE program applies to all state agencies, including the facilities within Connecticut’s Higher Education sector, which makes up 50% of the square footage of buildings under the control of state government.  Buildings controlled by the CT Board of Regents constitute 50% of Higher Education and 25% of the Governor’s energy reduction goal.

To achieve the energy reduction targets on CT Board of Regents campuses the following seven actions have been identified:

  1. Establish an Energy and Sustainability Baseline
  2. Participate in the American College and University President’s Climate Challenge (ACUPCC)
  3. Engage Student Organizations in Support of Campus Environmental Sustainability
  4. Identify Projects for Funding through Connecticut’s Lead-by-Example Initiative
  5. Establish a Board of Regent Technical Support and Project Review Team
  6. Develop and Deploy Multiple Project Financing Strategies
  7. Provide O&M and Auditing Training to Facility Maintenance Staff

More information of the CT Board of Regents Green Campus Strategy can be found here.

The conference brought together representatives from all CT Board of Regents institutions including the four Connecticut State Universities, twelve Connecticut Community/Technical Colleges, and Charter Oak State College. More than 80 participants learned about the LBE program and how the State of Connecticut is working to support colleges and universities in achieving the energy reduction goals.

The conference offered two panel sessions:

1.     Financing Green Campus Projects: moderated by Alex Kragie, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, DEEP

Presentations included:

2.     The Latest & Greatest Energy Technology: moderated by William Leahy, Director, Institute for Sustainable Energy

 Presentations included:

  • Eastern’s Green CampusNancy Tinker, Director, Facilities and Management Planning
  • CCSU’s Energy CenterRobert Gagne, Plant Facility Engineer
  • Connecticut’s Demand Response, Monitoring & Analysis Program – Cliff Orvedal & Bob Mancini, EnerNOC
  • CT Energy Efficiency FundRich Steeves, Energy Efficiency Board, Randy Vagnini, Retrofit Programs, Dave McIntosh, Retro-commissioning

Second Nature President Dr. Tony Cortese gave the keynote address, commending the state of Connecticut and the Board of Regents for working together to address energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also reminded the crowd of the importance of higher education to lead society and prepare graduates for a changing global market economy. Issues of climate and sustainability are about much more than the environment. It is time to stop viewing global challenges as separate, competing, and hierarchical and begin to address them as systemic and interdependent. Colleges and universities can and must develop graduates that can think systemically and begin developing the solutions to transition to a just, healthy, and sustainable society.

Connecticut’s LBE program is a terrific model for other states to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also a terrific model of collaboration for state colleges and universities to work with their state government. DEEP is working on identifying best practices in energy efficiency financing and developing a vetted list of energy service companies to submit RFPs. The CT BOR is establishing a Project Technical Review team to ensure proposals submitted by individual campuses are complete, comprehensive, and fully documented. This will help streamline the decision process for DEEPs Technical Advisory Committee and Project Finance Committee. The BOR is also building the capacity of campus staffs by providing training on energy management and energy auditing. By building internal expertise campuses can operate more efficiently and will be better able to identify areas for further energy savings. For Connecticut, LBE is the key program to making it the most energy efficient state in the nation!

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By Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
(Download the symposium agenda, or a PDF version of this summary here.)


The first American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Regional Collaborative Symposium – the 2012 Northeast Regional Symposium – took place at Bunker Hill Community College November 3-4, 2011. The Regional Symposiums focus on fostering collaboration among ACUPCC signatories facing similar challenges and opportunities in their geographic regions. This inaugural conference garnered participation from 36 universities in 19 states throughout the Northeast, achieving cross-institutional dialogue, knowledge exchange, and solutions to climate action planning, curriculum reform, and other key issues.

Jennifer Andrews Clean Air Cool PlanetPre-Conference Change Agent Forum

This pre-conference event offered new signatories and schools striving to be compliant with ACUPCC requirements and their pledge to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions a series of “Climate Clinics” presented by representatives of colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, and private consulting companies.

Symposium Sessions

Opening Speakers
Dr. Anthony Cortese, President of Second Nature, opened the Symposium evening of November 3 with David Hales, President Emeritus, College of the Atlantic and Chairman of the Second Nature Board of Directors, and Dianne Dumanoski, Environmental Journalist, with a discussion of the ever- increasing need for leadership in higher education to teach innovative, bold, and necessary climate and sustainability theory. The November 4 sessions were opened by Philip Giudice, the former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy.

World Café: Moving Beyond the Climate Action Plan
Participants delved into dynamic discussion and planning during the World Café, which allowed for reflections on the planning process, how to move the campus forward by assigning priorities, key stakeholders, and core values, and engaging with regional partnerships and initiatives. Facilitated by Bonny Bentzin of GreenerU, discussion reflected the need for institutionalizing engagement, the importance of connecting long-term climate planning to the needs of the local community and regional partners, and the potential for creating campus engagement with the Climate Action Plan as a living and strategic institutional document.


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Below is a powerful tribute to the late Ray Anderson, created and shared with Ray before his death.  As you can tell from the words of so many people directly impacted by Ray’s leadership, and the stories of the millions of others indirectly impacted, sustainability leadership can be a powerful motivator, providing meaning to our work and lives.

Keep an eye out for Second Nature president Tony Cortese around minute 6:00.

Thank you Ray and the people of Interface!


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