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by David Hales, President, Second Nature

The opening words of the Renewables Global Futures Report, “The future of renewable energy is fundamentally a choice, not a foregone conclusion given technology and economic trends”, are music to the ears of any educator.

At our best, we teach that the fundamental goal of sustainability is the freedom to choose our own future, and that education at its most essential is about creating the capacity to make wise choices.

The Renewable Energy Network for the 21st Century, and report author, Eric Martinot, have created a report that is enlightening and empowering. It provides both context and perspective on one of the most critical aspects of the transition to sustainability.

When we founded REN21 following the Bonn Conference on Renewable Energy of 2004, we were convinced that clean, abundant, predictable, and affordable renewable energy was necessary to fuel societies that aspire to being sustainable, stable, and just. We knew the promise was real, and we all underestimated how rapidly it would be realized.

In 2004, global investment in new renewable energy capacity hovered around $40 billion; in 2011 it exceeded $260 billion – more than the new investment in fossil fuels and nuclear energy combined. China, a renewable energy backwater in 2004 is the global leader. Most of the new power capacity added each year in Europe is from renewables.

The purpose of this report is not to predict the future. It is to give substance to the range of choice which is ours. It is a composite picture of the possible.

We at Second Nature assert that a renewable future is the essence of realizing the potential in the human story. Renewable energy is not just a plug-in alternative to the imperatives of fossil fuel; renewable energy makes a very different story possible … a story of more equitable distribution of wealth and opportunity, a story of empowered choices, a story which at its core is not driven by energy scarcity but by abundance.

The major challenges of the 21st century are all moral challenges: the gap between rich and poor, the increasing reliance on violence, both state-sponsored and indiscriminate, the impoverishment of our future in the service of today’s consumption. We have chosen the world which presents these choices in stark terms. The core lesson of education is that we can choose another path.

It’s early days yet; a future which is sustainable and just is not inevitable. Not only do we have to choose it as a vision, we have to choose it every day in our behavior. And education is critical to the choices we make. We cannot choose a future we cannot imagine, and we cannot achieve a future which is beyond our reach.

This report enlightens our vision and validates our choices. It is both a warning about the costs of business as usual, and a welcome to a world in which our children can live.

But don’t take my word for it – read it and choose for yourself.

David Hales
Vice-Chair, REN21
President, Second Nature

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The State of Renewables in Higher Education

This webcast was broadcast on November 29th 2012, 2:00-3:00pm EST

Supporting Documents

Second Nature and the U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership are collaborating to identify the barriers to expanding renewable energy use among colleges and universities, identify solutions, provide education and training on green power procurement strategies and explore the possibilities of joint purchasing opportunities.

To kick-off this partnership, Second Nature and EPA invite you to participate in an interactive event to learn more about trends and possibilities in colleges and universities incorporation of green power onto their campuses, and in their climate reduction goals.

The live event will stream on this page.  Please bookmark this link and register to participate in the event.

Leaning Objectives:

  • Understand the environmental, financial, and non-tangible benefits of procuring renewable electricity
  • Gain a better understanding of the challenges being faced by institutions trying to purchase or produce green power
  • Assess the current state of green power on campuses and potential for green power purchasing and production growth
  • Recognize the various procurement options for renewable electricity such as on-site generation, PPAs, project off-take arrangements, contracts for bundled or unbundled RECs
  • Identify new opportunities for learning and collaboration among institutions participating in the event

Webinar Panelists

  • David Hales, President, Second Nature
  • Blaine Collison, Program Director, Green Power Partnership, US EPA
  • Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature
  • Jenn Andrews, Director of Program Planning and Coordination, Clean Air-Cool Planet
  • Anthony Amato, Senior Analyst, Energy and Climate Change, ERG

For more information or questions about this event, please contact info@secondnature.org.

About Second Nature
www.secondnature.org
Second Nature works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society beginning with the transformation of higher education. Second Nature is the support organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

About the EPA’s Green Power Partnership
www.epa.gov/greenpower 
The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with purchased electricity use. The Partnership currently has more than 1,300 Partner organizations voluntarily purchasing billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, small and medium sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and colleges and universities.

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How to Participate

This event will be broadcast using Google+ Hangouts on Air to a live YouTube video. Please be sure to reserve a room or space which is equipped to screen YouTube videos.  You will not need a Google+ account to participate.  On the day of the event, this page (the page you are currently viewing) will have the YouTube video streaming live.  Simply visit this page to begin screening the video at 2pm EST. Please note that the video will be posted no earlier than 1:45pm EST the day of the event.  If you are having trouble seeing the video, try refreshing the page or restarting your browser.

Submitting Questions

We invite you to submit questions to the panelists ahead of time to help guide the discussion! Please leave a comment at the end of this post with your question for one or all of the panelists.

If you would like to submit questions and participate in the interactive components of this event during the event, you will need a Google or YouTube account.  To ask a question, click on the “Watch on YouTube” button in the lower right hand corner of the video window.  This will take you to the live video on the Second Nature YouTube Channel.  To ask a question, sign in to your Google or YouTube account, then post your question in the “Comments” section below the video.  Your question will appear instantly to the moderator.

Unable to make this live broadcast?
A recording of the broadcast will be made available shortly after the event on the Second Nature YouTube Channel, and on this blog.  Please register if you would like to receive information about the recording or live broadcast.

Technical Difficulties?
Questions about how to screen this event, or having difficulty?  Email info@secondnature.org.

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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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On April 19th, Eastern Connecticut State University and their Institute for Sustainable Energy hosted the Green Campus Conference to discuss Public Act 11-80. The bill requires the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to develop a comprehensive State Energy Plan and establish a variety of new programs to promote clean energy and energy efficiency.

DEEP recently launched the Lead-By-Example (LBE) program requiring energy use in State owned and operated buildings to be reduced by 10% by January 1, 2013, and another 10% by January 1, 2018. The LBE program applies to all state agencies, including the facilities within Connecticut’s Higher Education sector, which makes up 50% of the square footage of buildings under the control of state government.  Buildings controlled by the CT Board of Regents constitute 50% of Higher Education and 25% of the Governor’s energy reduction goal.

To achieve the energy reduction targets on CT Board of Regents campuses the following seven actions have been identified:

  1. Establish an Energy and Sustainability Baseline
  2. Participate in the American College and University President’s Climate Challenge (ACUPCC)
  3. Engage Student Organizations in Support of Campus Environmental Sustainability
  4. Identify Projects for Funding through Connecticut’s Lead-by-Example Initiative
  5. Establish a Board of Regent Technical Support and Project Review Team
  6. Develop and Deploy Multiple Project Financing Strategies
  7. Provide O&M and Auditing Training to Facility Maintenance Staff

More information of the CT Board of Regents Green Campus Strategy can be found here.

The conference brought together representatives from all CT Board of Regents institutions including the four Connecticut State Universities, twelve Connecticut Community/Technical Colleges, and Charter Oak State College. More than 80 participants learned about the LBE program and how the State of Connecticut is working to support colleges and universities in achieving the energy reduction goals.

The conference offered two panel sessions:

1.     Financing Green Campus Projects: moderated by Alex Kragie, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, DEEP

Presentations included:

2.     The Latest & Greatest Energy Technology: moderated by William Leahy, Director, Institute for Sustainable Energy

 Presentations included:

  • Eastern’s Green CampusNancy Tinker, Director, Facilities and Management Planning
  • CCSU’s Energy CenterRobert Gagne, Plant Facility Engineer
  • Connecticut’s Demand Response, Monitoring & Analysis Program – Cliff Orvedal & Bob Mancini, EnerNOC
  • CT Energy Efficiency FundRich Steeves, Energy Efficiency Board, Randy Vagnini, Retrofit Programs, Dave McIntosh, Retro-commissioning

Second Nature President Dr. Tony Cortese gave the keynote address, commending the state of Connecticut and the Board of Regents for working together to address energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also reminded the crowd of the importance of higher education to lead society and prepare graduates for a changing global market economy. Issues of climate and sustainability are about much more than the environment. It is time to stop viewing global challenges as separate, competing, and hierarchical and begin to address them as systemic and interdependent. Colleges and universities can and must develop graduates that can think systemically and begin developing the solutions to transition to a just, healthy, and sustainable society.

Connecticut’s LBE program is a terrific model for other states to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also a terrific model of collaboration for state colleges and universities to work with their state government. DEEP is working on identifying best practices in energy efficiency financing and developing a vetted list of energy service companies to submit RFPs. The CT BOR is establishing a Project Technical Review team to ensure proposals submitted by individual campuses are complete, comprehensive, and fully documented. This will help streamline the decision process for DEEPs Technical Advisory Committee and Project Finance Committee. The BOR is also building the capacity of campus staffs by providing training on energy management and energy auditing. By building internal expertise campuses can operate more efficiently and will be better able to identify areas for further energy savings. For Connecticut, LBE is the key program to making it the most energy efficient state in the nation!

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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.)

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 Diana Van Der Ploeg, President of Butte College.  This blog article was originally published on the AASHE blog

My eight-year tenure as President of Butte College ends this week on an exciting note: Butte College is now the first college in the history of the U.S. to go grid positive, meaning that we will generate more power from onsite renewable energy than our campus consumes. We are, in effect, our own renewable power plant.

At Butte College – located in Oroville, California, about 75 miles from Sacramento – we began installing solar panels on campus several years ago, and we now have 25,000 of them. Thanks in part to a generally sunny climate in our part of California, our solar panels will generate a combined 6.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That’s enough to power over 900 homes or take over 600 cars off the road.Butte Solar

Our solar project was completed in three phases – the first concluded in 2005; the second in 2009; and the third this week. In order to get financing on the best possible terms, we relied on lease revenue bonds, where energy cost savings are used to satisfy the debt obligation, for phase one. We relied on bank financing for phase two. For phase three, the largest phase, we used a combination of federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds and our own funds.

Because our solar panels will produce more electricity than we need, we’ll not only eliminate our utility bill, we’ll also be able to sell the excess electricity back to the power grid. Over time we will see substantial financial benefits – we estimate we could recoup as much as $50 million to $75 million over 15 years – that we can use to help improve academic offerings or expand student enrollment. At a time of tight budgets for states and colleges all over the country, finding innovative ways to save money wherever we can is crucial.

Yet these cost benefits are not the only, or even the primary, reason for our decision to pursue an aggressive renewable energy strategy. We believe that institutions of higher education have a particular responsibility to seize the mantle of environmental leadership. As educators, we are well positioned to demonstrate how we can better manage our use of the earth’s limited resources so that they’ll continue to be available for future generations and how we can reduce carbon emissions in the face of mounting evidence of the threat of global climate change.

When we boost our renewable energy portfolios, improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, recycle, and provide transportation alternatives to commuting by car, we serve as a model for our students and the broader communities we serve. We ask our students to carry that lesson with them after they graduate by signing a voluntary pledge to take the environment into account in their working lives and improve the environmental practices of the organizations where they work.

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