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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.

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2012 CLA winner badge

2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards

Recognizing Innovation and Excellence in Climate Leadership at Signatory Institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

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Recipients of the Third Annual Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards were recognized for their efforts during an awards ceremony at  the ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, DC on June 21st. This year’s Climate Leadership Awards were created, designed, and fabricated by students from Pratt Institute’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies (CSDS). The awards were created using reclaimed redwood from New York City water towers. The surface of the wood was beautifully and uniformly weathered, and each award included a distinctive waterline running through the grain of each piece, providing a unique and one of a kind finish. The students felt that the material and finished product honored the intent of the awards by illustrating the unique and innovative strategies the recipients are taking to work toward climate neutrality.

The Climate Leadership Awards were created, designed, and fabricated by students from Pratt Institute’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies

The 2012 awards featured the most competitive round of awards to date, with over 60 schools from across the network submitting nominations to be recognized for their climate leadership.

A select group of 20 finalists were chosen for their outstanding achievements to participate in a video competition in partnership with Planet Forward, the web to television initiative that asks citizens and experts to share energy, climate and sustainability innovations.

Finalists’ videos drew over 70,000 views and 14,000 votes from the public during a month long competition in April, 2012, with the top vote-getter, William-Paterson University of New Jersey, receiving over 2,800 votes.  Watch their innovative video – and all of the finalists’ entries – at planetforward.org.

The Award Winners were chosen by the Second Nature Board in May 2012, and the ten recipients represent the diversity of institutions of higher education and are located throughout the United States.

“These institutions are leading the way for the academic community by demonstrating how sustainable practices can be put into place on campus that have a long-term impact on creating a sustainable society for the benefit of all,” said Dr. Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature. “They have all shown tremendous creativity and an unrelenting commitment to integrate sustainable practices into their campuses and society as a whole.”

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The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is celebrating five years of higher education’s leadership on the critical issues of our time, with new data from signatories’ public reports showing unprecedented success and innovation in renewable energy, curriculum, energy efficiency, green building, and financial savings. 202 institutions have submitted Progress Reports on their implementation of the commitment in the first five years, showing the following results, which are indicative of progress throughout the network.  While reports are still coming in and numbers are subject to change, preliminary analysis of the latest data shows:

  • Collectively, the ACUPCC represents the 3rd largest purchaser of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) in the United States, with 156 Signatories purchasing a total of 1,279,765,254 kWh RECs.
  • 175 signatories report current curriculum offerings include 9,548 courses focused on sustainability
  • 67% of signatories affirmed that their Climate Action Plan has saved their institution money.  Generating total savings of $100 million dollars.
  • The 406 institutions that have submitted more than one GHG inventory have reduced cumulative annual CO2e emissions by approximately 384,000 metric tons — an average of 970 tons per year per institution
  • Reporting signatories show a total renewable energy output of 170,000,000 kwh — the equivalent of powering 14,617 American households electricity for one year.

Through the ACUPCC, higher education has become the only sector in the U.S. with a critical mass committed to the scientifically necessary goal of climate neutrality.  During the first 5 years of the initiative, over 700 colleges and universities in the US signed the ACUPCC, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and every type of public and private institution (2-year, 4-year, research university).  6 million students attend ACUPCC institutions – approximately one-third of all college and university students in the United States. International initiatives modeled after the ACUPCC have launched in Scotland and Peru, and similar initiatives are being explored in Taiwan, Australia, and Hungary.

It is a rare example of a voluntary initiative that includes accountability through the ongoing public reporting process, to which all ACUPCC signatories agree.  All public reports are available on the ACUPCC Reporting System at rs.acupcc.org.

Measuring Success

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

ACUPCC LogoThe Southwest Regional Collaborative Symposium – the second regionally focused conference hosted by Second Nature and the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment – took place at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona March 1st– 2nd, 2012.  ACUPCC Regional Symposiums focus on fostering collaboration among ACUPCC signatories facing similar challenges and opportunities in their geographic regions.  With attendance by 38 universities and organizations throughout the Southwest, participants sparked cross-institutional dialogue and solutions to Climate Action planning, curriculum reform, and other key issues.

Keynote Speaker

Diana Liverman, Co-Director,
University of Arizona Institute of the Environment

Sharing highlights of her research focusing on the science of human dimensions of global environmental change – including vulnerability and adaptation, and climate policy, mitigation and justice – Diana Liverman opened the conference by underscoring the need for leadership in higher education on sustainability. Diana is a fellow in the Environmental Change Institute and member of editorial boards for Global Environmental ChangeAnnals of the Association of American Geographers, and Climatic Change. She currently chairs the Science Advisory Committee for the ICSU Global Environmental Change and Food Systems program (GECAFS) and served on the UK Human Dimensions of Global Change Committee.

Symposium Sessions

World Café: From Planning to Action

Participants discuss taking climate action planning to the next strategic level during the World Café.

Facilitated by Bonny Bentzin of GreenerU this high-energy discussion focused on creating campus engagement with the Climate Action Plan as a living and strategic institutional document. Participants delved into dynamic planning and long-term visioning during the World Café, reflecting on the CAP planning process, how to move the campus forward by assigning priorities, key stakeholders, and core values, and engaging with regional partnerships and initiatives.

Sustainability as a Pedagogical Process

Southwest Regional Presidential Panel. From left: Michael Crow, Arizona State University, Jan Gehler, Scottsdale Community College; John D. Haeger, Northern Arizona University; and David J. Schmidly, University of New Mexico.

ACUPCC signatories have committed to take actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students. This session identified best practices for integrating sustainability into the curriculum, how to engage diverse stakeholders, measuring outcomes, and applying the concept of “group intelligence” to curriculum development. Teams of participants each developed their own pedagogical approach to achieving the learning outcome of creating a global sustainability outlook. Facilitated by Cindy Thomashow, Education Manager, AASHE and Tom Kelly, Director Sustainability Academy, University of New Hampshire.

Presidents’ Panel

Presidents from institutions in the region joined in a dialogue on how higher education in the Southwest can lead the way to a clean, green and sustainable economy. Moderated by the President of Arizona State University Michael Crow, the panel included Jan Gehler, President of Scottsdale Community College, John Haeger, President of Northern Arizona University, and David Schmidly, President of the University of New Mexico.

Conversation centered on the innovation opportunities inherent in achieving carbon neutrality on college and university campuses. President Gehler remarked: “Whether president, vice president or member of the faculty, we must model the way,” a sentiment expanded by President Crow who stated, “I am a teacher. That’s what I do. But I think more important than that, the institutions themselves have to teach.”

The panel also discussed the positive returns of sustainability as a sound business model in an era of budget reductions coupled with enrollment growth.  President Haeger underscored this idea by reminding the audience, and panel, that infusing a sustainability emphasis into the administrative structure – whether it is building green buildings or buying fuel efficient cars – is another way presidents can lead in creating a sustainable economy.

Institutional Case Studies

Three distinct educational tracks included case studies from institutions across the southwest.

The Energy Efficiency track highlighted Energy Conservation at Alamo Colleges with John Strybos, Alamo Colleges, Using the Design-Build Approach to Meet Energy Reduction Goals with Allen Shiroma, University of California, Irvine and Shaun Ayvazi, Siemens, and financing techniques from Norm Tarbox of Weber State University, who presented Funding Energy Efficiency Projects through a Green Revolving Loan Fund.

The second track, on Sustainability in the Curriculum included Regional Sustainability Policy and Workforce Development Efforts at Santa Fe Community College by Randy Grissom from Santa Fe Community College (NM), Growing Sustainability Literacy at Northern Arizona University, from the Seeds of the Ponderosa Project to the Global Learning Initiative with Rod Parnell of Northern Arizona University, and The Odyssey of Creating a Sustainable Campus at UNM: Assets, Barriers, and Strategies with Bruce T. Milne at the University of New Mexico.

Track three, Sustainable Resource Management, featured waste, water, and food strategies with Nick Brown of Arizona State University and Pat DeRueda from Waste Management presenting Roadmap to Zero Solid Waste, Joe Abraham, University of Arizona, sharing research on Sustainable Water Management, and a highlight of a community college student-centered Sustainable Food Systems Program by Shannon Corona of Rio Salado College.

Summary: Collaborating for Success

Bringing a regional focus unique to the demands of Southwestern higher education, symposium attendees created strategies and solutions for addressing the key issues facing schools, their staff, faculty, students, and administration.

The words of keynote speakers, session case study leaders, and participants highlighted the role of every individual working towards campus sustainability as a “teacher” of the vital work in moving higher education towards a just and sustainable future.

110 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. The conference was held at Arizona State University in the historic Old Main Building at the Tempe campus.

Thank You!

Second Nature would like to thank the staff of Arizona State University for their partnership in hosting the event, Aramark for providing sustainable and delicious food for the event, and all attendees, who found exciting new opportunities for creating and implementing their Climate Action Plans, and creative solutions to the challenges of creating a sustainable campus.

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2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards

Recognizing Innovation and Excellence in Climate Leadership at Signatory Institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment

The Climate Leadership Awards highlight campus innovation and climate leadership to transition society to a clean, just, and sustainable future, and are chosen from ACUPCC signatory institutions in good standing via a nomination process.  This year marks the third annual Climate Leadership Awards, and Second Nature is proud to announce this year’s Finalists, who will advance on to be considered for a 2012 Award.

2012 Finalists for Institutional Excellence in Climate Leadership

  • Doctorate Granting University
    Arizona State University, AZ
    Georgia Institute of Technology, GA
    New York University, NY
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL
    University of South Florida, FL
  • Master’s Colleges & University
    Florida Gulf Coast University, FL
    Goddard College, VT
    University of Central Missouri, MO
    William Paterson University of New Jersey, NJ
  • Baccalaureate College
    Allegheny College, PA
    Carleton College, MN
    Luther College, IA
    Spelman College, GA
  • Associate/Tribal College
    Austin Community College District, TX
    Chandler – Gilbert Community College, AZ
    Glendale Community College, AZ
    Haywood Community College, NC
  • Special Focus Institutions / Other 
    Pratt Institute and PALS, NY
    SUNY Upstate Medical University, NY
    University of California System,CA

Second Nature is proud to be announcing the awards winners of the 3rd Annual Climate Leadership Awards at the 6th annual Climate Leadership Summit of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) on June 21-22, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

In partnership with Planet Forward, all finalists will be featured in a public voting competition from March 15th – April 15th 2012, where viewers can vote on the most innovative and ground-breaking institution in each Carnegie Classification. Campuses with the top votes at the end of April will be featured in a variety of media opportunities. More information on the voting competition will be posted soon.

For more information: http://secondnature.org/awards/

View 2011 Climate Leadership Award Recipients
View 2010 Climate Leadership Award Recipients

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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.

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The following was authored by Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow for the 2007 ACUPCC Annual Report. View the report in full here. View the school’s progress on the ACUPCC Reporting System.

Photo courSandy Johnson adjusts the mortarboard on her daughter, Candi Swaim, prior to the Spring 2009 Convocation of Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability. Ms Swaim, of Show Low, AZ, is part of the first graduating class from GIOS.tesy of Arizona State University

Photo courtesy of Arizona State University

As a founding member institution of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Arizona State University continues to maintain a strong institutional commitment to the reduction of carbon emissions on our four campuses.  We are proud of our accomplishments thus far.  During the past year, ASU has instituted a number of organizational changes to improve our ability to deal with climate change and other sustainability issues.  We have established an Office of University Sustainability Practices charged with facilitating the realization of our carbon neutrality goals.  Consistent with our institutional commitment to sustainability, four recently completed buildings have been recipients of a LEED designation, including a platinum rating, the first such certification in Arizona.  All new campus buildings will henceforth be required to meet a minimum standard of LEED silver certification.

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