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

The ACUPCC

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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By Steve Muzzy, Senior Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the July, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

Download the 2011 Climate Leadership Summary Highlights PDF

The 5th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Climate Leadership Summit took place June 23-24 in Washington, DC at The George Washington University. The campus venue was a great success, and signatory institutions will host all Summits in the future. Presidents, provosts, and business officers, mark your calendars: American University will host the 2012 Summit June 21-22, 2012.

Keynote Speaker

Frank Sesno delivering his keynote speech at the 2011 Summit

Frank Sesno, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University and host and creator of Planet Forward, delivered the opening keynote address (video) – focusing on media and the power of communication. Mr. Sesno’s experience with traditional media has revealed that it is excellent at covering a crisis or an event but is failing to cover complex issues and hold attention over long periods of time. He strongly feels that climate change and the solutions to solve it are compelling, and urged the participants to tell their stories. The ACUPCC network has hundreds of stories to tell about what is happening on individual campuses, how it is strengthening relationships with local communities, and building wider regional efforts. Working to solve climate change is a story worth telling.

Climate Leadership Awards

Following Mr. Sesno, Second Nature presented the Second Annual Climate Leadership Awards, recognizing outstanding examples of ACUPCC signatories that are shifting behavior on campus and within communities to make a low-carbon economy possible. Awards were issued to the following ACUPCC signatories:

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Attendees 2011 ACUPCC Summit

Inspired and energized, we’re back from the 2011 ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit, held last week at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

A summary of the summit’s proceedings and more photos to come soon. In the meantime, watch keynote speaker Frank Sesno‘s speech.

UPDATE: Summit summary now available.

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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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Frostburg State University 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.

Frostburg State University (FSU) President Jonathan Gibralter’s long-time commitment to sustainability has led to leadership roles in organizations at both the state and national levels, including ACUPCC’s Leadership Circle and 2011-2012 Steering Committee, the 2007-2008 Maryland Commission on Climate Change Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Mitigation Working Group and the 2010 Second Nature National Transportation Policy Task Force. His knowledge from these experiences has helped him identify opportunities for FSU, and his advocacy has served as an inspiration and a call to action to the FSU campus.

FSU’s success in making sustainability a central part of its identity and educational mission is best conveyed by the name of its sustainability initiative, “Learning Green, Living Green (LGLG).” The institution has taken a comprehensive, holistic approach to addressing climate change that has involved everything from expanding its academic offerings to helping students understand how their daily activities impact the environment.

LGLG and a faculty-led Sustainability Studies Committee, which oversees FSU’s interdisciplinary sustainability studies minor, have spearheaded a variety of activities that focus on environmental education. Each spring as part of Earth Week, LGLG hosts Focus Frostburg, a day of learning on sustainability that brings together the entire campus community. In 2010, attendance exceeded 1,000, with over 20 presentations and exhibits. Recent events include standing-room-only lectures by environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill and Ethan Nuss, field director of the Energy Action Coalition, and community screenings of the films “GasLand” and “Shale Gas and America’s Future,” two documentaries on natural gas drilling, an issue that is shaping Western Maryland’s future.

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