Posts Tagged ‘LEED’

By Georges Dyer, Vice President, Second Nature
(This article appears in the June, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer and originally appeared in The New England Journal of Higher Education on May 21, 2012 )


Preparedness. Opportunity. Innovation. These words capture the essence of higher education’s critical role in creating a healthy, just and sustainable society. Leaders in higher education are standing up to the greatest challenge of our time by providing education for sustainability and preparing graduates to create a sustainable economy. They are providing the opportunity for more students to access higher education by reigning in costs through energy efficiency and smart building. And by demonstrating sustainability solutions on campus, through research, and in partnership with local communities, they are driving the innovation needed for a true and lasting economic recovery.

Five years ago, a small group of visionary college and university presidents gathered to initiate the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). They were motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to make a significant commitment to climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society.

As the ACUPCC celebrates its fifth anniversary, 677 colleges and universities are currently active members of this dynamic network, representing more than one-third of U.S. college and university students. These institutions across the country have completed hundreds of projects to reduce energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save money in the process—demonstrating powerful and necessary leadership-by-example for the rest of society.

At the same time, higher education is in crisis. Challenges of accountability, affordability, workforce preparation and relevance are sweeping the sector. The volatile global economy remains unpredictable, with ramifications for every campus. And despite our best efforts, the climate issue becomes more daunting daily.

This month, presidents, provosts and business officers will gather at American University in Washington D.C. for the 5th Anniversary ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit. The summit will directly respond to these challenges with a theme of Economic Renewal: Jump-Starting a Sustainable Economy Through the ACUPCC.


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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
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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In March of 2008, six British Columbian University presidents created and signed the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action. On June 30, 2011, the Canadian Ministry of the Environment announced carbon neutrality for British Columbia’s entire public sector.

Originally inspired by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), British Columbia’s higher education sector (made up of 11 public Universities and 4 private Universities) has given a whole new meaning to “climate action”. The first signatures of the action plan came hand in hand with an incredibly comprehensive provincial program launched by the Canadian government to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions throughout B.C’s entire public sector (which comprises of schools, post-secondary institutions, government offices, government-owned [Crown] corporations, and hospitals), a feat the United States has yet to achieve. The combination of these two initiatives has sparked action across the entire country, from urban carbon neutrality projects in Toronto, to schools signing on in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

The 23 nationwide “Statement of Action” signatories, which includes 22 public Universities and one private University have been working with one another, public and private sector partners, and the Canadian government to accelerate this achievement. This has by far proven the efficiency of collaboration when presented with an issue that requires participation from all fronts. Below are a few accomplishments from the six original creators and signatories.

“If you want to go fast, walk alone, but if you want go far, walk with others.” Similar to a marathon, the road towards global carbon neutrality requires shared leadership. Although marathon runners do compete, we often forget the importance and amount of teamwork and collaboration they actually partake in during their race. Alternating and sharing leadership in long distance journeys is not a fortuitous phenomenon; it is vital for motivation, for ideas, for hope, and for success. It is exciting to see the success of the ACUPCC being modeled and expanded with similar initiatives in Peru, Scotland and Canada — and nascent efforts underway across the globe. Our common commitment is inspiring and necessary for achieving climate neutrality and sustainability as quickly as possible.

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By Wendell Brase, Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine and Chair, University of California Climate Solutions Steering Group
(This article appears in the April, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)


We’ve relamped practically every fixture on campus, installed occupancy sensors and flow-restrictors, adopted green cleaning practices, increased our landfill diversion rate, made LEED Gold our policy, converted to “thin client” computing and installed power management software, increased our AVR, and completed dozens of other, significant green actions. We “walk the talk,” yet our carbon footprint has only declined about ten percent. What now?

Our progress seems to be slowing down or, worse yet, topping out! We are beginning to understand the necessity for major capital investment in order to attack the remaining nine-tenths of our carbon footprint. We need large-scale changes in the way we consume energy and source it.

How do we make the transition from fast-payback projects and low-investment behavioral changes to projects with sufficient scale to, say, cut our carbon footprint in half by 2020? Such a milestone would surely be consistent with our commitment to attain carbon-neutrality “as soon as possible.”

What can we do to foster the new thinking and ramping-up that needs to occur? (more…)

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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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By Rachel Gutter, Director, The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council

(This article appears in the September, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)


There are more than 3,800 projects participating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building program on campuses across the United States. In fact, colleges and universities have a higher percentage of LEED-certified green space than any other sector, including government, retail and hospitality. While notable, colleges have only just begun to scratch the surface of transforming their aging campuses. Today, there are more than 83,000 college buildings comprising 3.48 billion square feet on campuses across the country. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has a vision to ensure green schools for everyone within this generation and, new this year, USGBC is launching its Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The Center will support sustainability and green building for everyone from the kindergartner entering the classroom for the first time to the Ph.D. student performing research in a lab.

Under the umbrella of the Center for Green Schools, USGBC will continue to implement its Green Campus Campaign and work directly with staff, faculty, students and administrators to expedite the transformation of all campuses into sustainable places to live and learn, work and play.  USGBC defines a green campus as a higher education community that improves energy efficiency, conserves resources and enhances environmental quality by educating for sustainability and creating healthy living and learning environments. The Center for Green Schools at USGBC was established to elevate and accelerate important conversations with campus stakeholders, collaborate with leading organizations and utilize tools and resources to help make this transformation possible. We are working to ensure that students of all ages will have the opportunity to learn in an environment that enhances their academic experience. (more…)

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Gaby Rigaud recounts her experience as she wraps up a year of interning with Second Nature’s Advancing Green Building in Higher Education program. We’ll miss you, Gaby!

by Gaby Rigaud, Advancing Green Building Intern, Second Nature

Gaby Rigaud, Second Nature InternWe all have moments in our lives when we’re forced to adjust and make difficult decisions that we hope will change our lives for the best. One such moment for me came at the end of 2008. At that point, I had spent nearly four years working as a civil engineer at a Fortune 500 consulting firm in Boston, and I found myself at an impasse. Lacking both variety and a sense of purpose in my daily activities, feeling unsupported, I began to be unfulfilled in my professional life. My initial remedy was to go to graduate school to broaden my knowledge; I quickly found, though, that this would not be sufficient. I reevaluated the situation, asking myself the usual questions: “Where do I see myself in 5-10 years?” and “What am I passionate about?” This exercise resulted in a decision that most people who know and are close to me saw as irrational. My future was presented to me in a new light, and putting up new condo buildings and underground parking garages for the next 40 years was not part of it.

Thanks to my involvement with the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter at Tufts, I came to realize that my pleasure lies in problem solving and in using what I know to help others. I was reminded of the reason why I became a civil engineer in the first place. Yes, bridges and buildings are impressive landmarks, but my strongest interest was in the legacy that engineers leave and the impact they have in our world. Striving to make people’s lives better and providing them with the means to help themselves in a sustainable and efficient way is one unbeatable legacy (at least in my opinion).

With that in mind, I counted my pennies and resigned from my position. In my newfound free time, I decided to accelerate my work toward the Tufts engineering Masters program I had started in a part-time capacity back in 2007. I took the opportunity to enroll full-time in graduate courses. I also wanted to break away from the typical “engineering stuff,” stay active, and explore how I could apply my skills to the world of sustainability. I looked into LEED Accreditation, and studying for the exam led me to realize that I can accomplish more by training with a focus on sustainability and societal impact.

My journey led me to Second Nature on February 19, 2009.


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