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Posts Tagged ‘RECs’

By Stephen Muzzy, Senior Associate, Second Nature
(This article appears in the June, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The ACUPCC’s 5th year celebration also marks an important stage in the ongoing, unprecedented efforts of the network to publicly report on activities to eliminate operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide the education, research, and community engagement to enable the rest of society to do the same. Because of these tremendous efforts the ACUPCC Reporting System now includes 1585 GHG reports, 465 Climate Action Plans, and 240 Progress Reports on the Climate Action Plan! Public reporting by ACUPCC signatories demonstrates transparency and integrity for each institution’s commitment and contributes to the collective learning of the network and general public. The ACUPCC Reporting System also allows signatories to track, assess, and communicate progress to their campus community and beyond, demonstrating to prospective students, foundations, and potential private sector partners that their institution is serious and transparent about its commitment to climate change and sustainability. The individual efforts taken together are demonstrating impressive results and the growing impact of the network to prepare graduates and provide the necessary solutions for a sustainable future.

Making an Impact

The ACUPCC’s earliest signatories have had more than four years to assess, plan and begin implementing their Climate Action Plans allowing them to:

  • Build institutional capacity to foster career preparedness for their students through curriculum development
  • Secure funding for and from climate and sustainability efforts and;
  • Demonstrate leadership in institutional research and innovation

Preparedness

Understanding sustainability is requisite for career preparedness in the 21st century. ACUPCC institutions are employing a range of innovative approaches to ensure that climate and sustainability issues are incorporated into the educational experience of all students.  The 240 institutions that submitted a Progress Report on their Climate Action Plan to date have reported the following data:

Curriculum

  • 76,935 graduates covered by sustainability learning outcomes.
  • 175 signatories combine to offer 9,548 courses focused on sustainability
  • 112 require all students to have sustainability as a learning objective
  • 66 have offered professional development to all faculty in sustainability education.
  • 49 have included sustainability learning outcomes in institutional General Education Requirements.
  • 37 have included sustainability in fulfilling regional or state accreditation requirements.
  • 18 have included sustainability learning outcomes, tracks, or certificates in every academic major.

Research

  • 11,223 faculty members are engaged in sustainability research
  • 119 signatories have faculty engaged in sustainability research
  • 114 have a program to encourage student climate and/or sustainability research
  • 85 have a program to encourage faculty climate and or sustainability research
  • 67 have a policy that recognizes interdisciplinary research in faculty promotion and tenure.

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by Tim Stumhofer, Program Associate, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute
(This article appears in the June, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCAt face value, the question of which environmental commodity to use in support of voluntary climate objectives (e.g., “carbon neutrality”) may read as a simple preference of taste. Tasked with parsing vague marketing claims and often-inaccessible acronym-laden jargon, the average consumer should not be faulted in assuming that choice in these instruments is little more than a matter of “mixing-and-matching” project attributes. Indeed the diversity of project geography, technology, vintage (i.e., year), and ancillary benefits (e.g., local vs. global economic development) on offer can prove alternately dizzying and empowering. While this shopping experience permits consumers the leeway to pair project traits to personal or organizational preferences transcending pure climate goals, the freedom of choice permitted in this open and incompletely defined marketplace does not come without expense.

There are many evaluative steps you should take to make an informed environmental commodity purchase. Yet, in this marketplace it may be very difficult to assess even the most fundamental of these steps: the definition of the very product being sold. By definition, a commodity is an “undifferentiated product,” meaning it should be uniform in quality and quantity in every example. However, in voluntary carbon markets, “environmental commodity” is often used as a blanket term to refer to two very different commodities: greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets (representing emission reductions) and renewable energy certificates (RECs) (which codify renewable energy generation).

To best understand the difference between these often-confused environmental commodities, it is instructive to first consider their origins.

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by Blaine Collison, Program Director, Green Power Partnership, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(This article appears in the June, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCThe fundamental economic, environmental and security importance of dramatically increasing the United States’ portion of renewable electricity generation portfolio cannot be overstated.  American colleges and universities have compelling and unique abilities to help drive this series of changes through immediate and concrete action; this is Tangible Action 5 of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

This article will review some of the key issues in voluntary green power purchasing, touch on best practices, and briefly consider the enormous potential impact colleges and universities can have on the development of U.S. renewable energy.

Ninety-six colleges and universities are participating in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership (GPP), a voluntary program that offers technical support, best practices, and communications resources.  The schools are purchasing almost 1.5 billion kWh of green electricity.  All told, the GPP includes more than 1,200 organizations which are collectively buying almost 17 billion kWh of green power annually.

U.S. Voluntary Market Sales

U.S. Voluntary Market Sales

Source: NREL/TP-6A2-46581, September 2009

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by Dano Weisbord, Environmental Sustainability Director, Smith College
(This article appears in the June, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCSmith College recently installed a 29 kilowatt photo-voltaic (PV) array on our Campus Center. We developed this project using a power purchase agreement (PPA).  The PPA is an increasingly common model for developing renewable energy projects because it requires no up-front capital. Our Campus Center project is great, but given the amount of power we produce, it is more a demonstration than a significant new source of renewable power for campus. I am glad it is small-scale because we learned some critical lessons about PPAs that would lead us to do things differently the next time around. First, we learned that most PPAs include terms that would make it unethical for us to count as “carbon free” the electricity produced.  Second, we learned how we might develop a PPA that would reduce the sacrifices to our carbon emission reduction efforts.

Before I discuss the relationship between PPAs and carbon-accounting, it is important to understand how a PPA provider makes a profit. Smith College contracted with Community Energy Inc. (CEI) for our system. Our central agreement terms were as follows: Smith College gave CEI an easement to the roof of our Campus Center plus permission to make roof penetrations and access to our electrical distribution system. Smith agreed to purchase all of the power supplied by the PV array. CEI will own and maintain the array for 20 years. Over that term, we will pay CEI a fixed price for electricity produced by the system. In our case, the price paid is competitive with the cost of grid-supplied electricity. Smith College did not provide any capital and need not maintain the system.  If production is interrupted, we pay only for electricity that is produced.

Smith College's Solar Dashboard

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