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Posts Tagged ‘NACUBO’

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

ACUPCC ImplementerNo matter what the outcome of the presidential election, Congress will undoubtedly consider comprehensive tax reform in the New Year. Second Nature, the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and the National Association of College & University Business Officers (NACUBO) are presenting policy options for changes in tax policy and federal grant programs that would allow colleges and universities to increase operational efficiencies, reduce long-term energy expenses and ultimately contribute to administrative efforts to contain costs.

The report, Higher Education: Leading the Nation to a Safe and Secure Energy Future was released at the ACUPCC Climate

Luther College generates one-third of the electrical power it consumes with a wind generator sited on the bluff overlooking the campus and city.
Photo: Erik Hageness

Leadership Summit in Washington, DC this past summer, explores how the federal government can develop and enhance clean energy incentives and investments specifically for colleges and universities. To publicize the report and proposals, Second Nature hosted a press briefing with higher education reporters. Several college presidents participated in the event with media representatives from the Chronicle of Higher Education and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Stories about the report appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, ClimateWire, and in AACC’s Community College Times.

In early October, Second Nature and NACUBO hosted a meeting with representatives from government relations staff at higher education associations (HEA) and from individual institutions to educate them about the shared effort. David Hales, in his first visit to Washington DC as Second Nature’s new president, participated in the meeting and had the opportunity to connect with key staff from the presidential associations.  The goals for the meeting were to:

  • Educate association colleagues about Second Nature’s work
  • Engage the higher education associations in dialog about the strategic importance of energy issues (HEAs are primarily focused on student aid, access, and research funding)
  • Enlist additional volunteers to participate in meetings going forward

Participants included representatives from: Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU), University of California, Irvine, University of Colorado, Ball State University, Portland State University, Michigan State University, University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California Office of the President.

Technical Correction to the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction (Section 179D)

Second Nature has been involved in another effort to advocate for public policy initiatives that are consistent with the ACUPCC mission.  We have identified a current legislative issue that would benefit all higher education institutions and all nonprofits that may be considering new construction or building retrofits that generate energy savings.

The specific issue described here in more detail involves a federal tax deduction for energy efficiency projects. Currently nonprofits, including independent colleges and universities are excluded from benefiting from this deduction.  Supporters of an amendment extending the deduction to nonprofits have indicated that letters of support from influential and respected voices addressed to targeted members of Congress would be helpful in getting the amendment added to the “tax extenders bill” during the lame duck session of Congress in November.

Second Nature took action and identified eight signatory institutions in key legislative districts, and requested that presidents send a letter of support to their member of Congress.

Since 2005, there has been a deduction for buildings that meet a certain threshold of energy savings (new construction or renovation).  This is a technology neutral tax incentive that encourages energy conservation by tying the value of the deduction to the actual energy savings generated by the building once it is completed. The deduction may be up to $1.80 per square foot, with qualifying energy efficient improvements in lighting systems, heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water systems, and the building envelope.

To help ensure that governmental owners get the most efficient systems yielding long-term operating savings, Section 179D permits a government building owner (including public institutions) to allocate the 179D deduction to one or more persons “primarily responsible for designing the property,” – this party can include architects, engineers, contractors, environmental consultants, or energy services providers.  The statute does not now allow nongovernmental nonprofits to allocate this deduction, although there is no legislative history indicating that this is intentional.

The benefit to the overall economy from permitting major sectors like higher education and hospitals to allocate the Sec. 179D tax deduction for energy efficiency construction and retrofit projects to the designers, engineers, construction firms, and architects involved with such projects will be considerable. Being able to include such a deduction in building construction or retrofit RFPs should lead to lower bids. Institutions would be incentivizing architects, engineers, and contractors to push the envelope on available energy savings, resulting in lower operating costs for years to come.  There is bipartisan support for the current law because of the savings it can generate and federal agencies have been encouraged to maximize their use of the allocation authority. Extending this benefit to higher education and to hospitals would help to save money in this capital and budget constrained economy, maximize the return on energy efficiency investments, and support the commitments made by ACUPCC institutions to help eliminate operational greenhouse gas emissions.

Second Nature will keep the network informed about both the technical correction to 179D, and about our national policy strategy more broadly. To get involved, or learn more, contact Michele Madia, Director, Sustainability Finance & Strategy mmadia@secondnature.org.

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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.

(more…)

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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.

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By Scott D. Miller, President, Bethany College
(This article appears in the September, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

Financing has been identified as a key barrier to implementing sustainability projects on campus. The ACUPCC Financing Sustainability Committee has been meeting since January 2011 to address the lack of information about available financing resources and to discuss strategies to encourage the federal government, and other funding sources, to increase support to signatories for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

During the ACUPCC Steering Committee Meeting at the June 2011 Washington, D.C., Annual Summit, two central, specific goals around financing were affirmed: 1) To help a specified percentage of the higher education community reduce on-campus energy consumption by 50% and achieve 100% renewable energy use within a decade; and 2) to move colleges and universities away from the notion that efficient and renewable energy projects have to pay for themselves—rather, we urge our fellow institutions to allocate funding for sustainability initiatives as part of their strategic planning process. A third goal is to develop resources on the ACUPCC website to enhance its effectiveness as a clearinghouse for information to identify and secure financing opportunities for sustainability initiatives.

In support of these goals, Second Nature and the ACUPCC are partnering with the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to research and write a white paper that will underscore the importance of higher education as a unique sector within the fabric of the nation’s economy. Colleges and universities in the United States educate more than 20 million students each year and play a critical role in the development of an educated and socially responsible workforce. In addition, institutions of higher learning are an integral part of the economic and cultural viability and strength of the communities in which they reside. Second Nature, the ACUPCC and NACUBO believe that by educating governments and business partners about the potential for progress on our campuses, we can help focus limited resources on sustainability initiatives with the biggest impact for all of society. (more…)

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By Toni Nelson, ACUPCC Program Director, Second Nature
(This article appears in the February, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCThe support team at Second Nature has developed a plan for 2011 that will provide information and resources on key topics related to the implementation of climate action planning and sustainability education, as well as opportunities for signatories to gather in person to discuss challenges, opportunities, and ways to overcome barriers to these goals.  Second Nature is introducing a briefing paper series, “Viewpoints on Sustainability,” to provide information and resources on specific topics in a concise format that will highlight important concepts and related resources. A website redesign is also in the works, with a re-organized resources section that will group information by topic and thus make it easier to find information on specific topics of interest to the signatories.

Key Topics for 2011

Topics to be addressed through briefing papers, the ACUPCC Implementer, and webinars and other in-person events such as training workshops will include how to institutionalize sustainability at your institution, financing resources and opportunities, outreach to and engagement of the campus and local community, higher education’s role in adapting to climate change, and education for sustainability.

Financing

A particular emphasis will be made in 2011 to provide support and information regarding financing resources and opportunities.  The ACUPCC Steering Committee has created a Financing Sustainability Committee comprised of president and chief financial officers that is tasked with developing a set of recommendations to present to the Steering Committee at the Annual Leadership Summit in June.  The effort is being supported by the Clinton Climate Initiative and NACUBO, which will include financing as a focus at the 2011 Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference in April.

In-Person Meeting Opportunities

For Presidents, Provosts, and CFOs

The 2011 ACUPCC Annual Leadership Summit will be held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. on June 23-24.  This event will focus on issues related to ACUPC policy and high-level decision-making in support of climate action planning and sustainability education implementation.

For Implementation Liaisons and Sustainability Staff

Implementation Liaison networking meetings will be held as part of the programming at NACUBO’s 2011 Smart & Sustainable Campuses Conference in Washington, D.C., April 3-5, and at the 2011 AASHE Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, October 9-12.  ILs have welcomed these opportunities to talk with their peers about specific projects and issues on their campuses.

For All Campus Sustainability Leaders

The ACUPCC plans to hold two regional gatherings in the next year.  The ACUPCC Northeast Regional Climate Leadership Symposium will be scheduled in early November 2011, most likely in the Boston area, and the ACUPCC Southwest Regional Climate Leadership Symposium will be scheduled in February 2012, most likely in Phoenix.  Regional events will be hosted by ACUPCC institutions and will follow a similar format to the national summit, with an evening keynote and dinner, and working sessions the following day.

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