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By Adrien Tofighi, Program Assistant, Second Nature
(Review the symposium agenda, or download a PDF Summary of this post).

ACUPCC Logo

The 2012 ACUPCC Southeast Regional Symposium took place at Agnes Scott College, November 7-8th, 2012. ACUPCC Regional Symposiums are working sessions to foster dialogue and collaboration among ACUPCC signatories who are facing similar challenges and opportunities in their geographic regions.

The conference garnered participation from 45 colleges and universities, representing states throughout the Southeast, achieving cross-institutional dialogue, knowledge exchange, and the creation of new solutions to Climate Action planning, curriculum reform, and other key issues. This conference marked the third regional symposium hosted by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

David E. Shi, President Emeritus, Furman University

Opening Speakers

After a warm welcome by Agnes Scott College President Elizabeth Kiss, David E. Shi, President Emeritus of Furman University, opened the symposium on Wednesday evening. The keynote presentation, entitled “Sustainability in the South: An Oxymoron?” addressed some of the region’s most pressing questions regarding conservation, sustainability, and climate leadership.

Dr. Shi posed the questions: How can conservation thrive in a conservative culture, and how can higher education be the vanguard of cultural change? His talk shared statistics on the southeastern colleges and universities progress on climate and sustainability initiatives, and reviewed the need for campuses to move from singular sustainability projects to a centralized “hub” for large-scale transformational change.

Symposium Sessions

World Café: From Planning to Action

Participants kicked off the first full day of the conference with dynamic discussion and planning during the World Café, which allowed for reflections on leveraging campus resources in order to implement climate action planning solutions. Facilitated by Bonny Bentzin of GreenerU, the session focused around key themes related to communicating and engaging with the campus community.

Campus Sustainability Case Studies

Case studies from eight different institutions in three concurrent sessions were presented as a means to address the topically and geographically relevant problems that many campuses face, and share how these issues are being dealt with.

The first track, Financing, highlighted three institutions from North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky. A team from Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) including Cassidy Cannon, Sustainability Director, Robert Gaines, Special Assistant to the Chancellor, Charles Hall, Director of Design & Construction, Dennis Leary, Facilities Director, and Kent Anson, Vice President of Higher Education for Honeywell Building Solutions presented on the campus’s experience leveraging a comprehensive energy savings program to address deferred maintenance, energy costs, and sustainability goals. Howard Wertheimer, Director of Capital Planning & Space also discussed the lessons learned in building the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory (CNES), and Mitchell H. Payne, Associate Vice President for Business Affairs at the University of Louisville provided an overview of financing energy efficiency through energy savings performance contracting.

Hands-on learning at Furman University’s David E. Shi Center for Sustainability

In the second track, Sustainable Food and Community Engagement, Furman University’s Katherine Kransteuber, Program Coordinator at the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability shared the interdisciplinary faculty-student research initiative designed to study and further sustainable agriculture on campus and in the Carolinas. Stephanie Sims, Implementation Coordinator at Office of Sustainability at the University of Florida provided an overview of UF’s broad approach to involving stakeholders and addressing challenges and opportunities in food systems through partnerships and innovative programming, which included strategies such as “Food for Thought” outreach campaigns and University extension efforts and the Office of Sustainability at the regional and state level.

The third track, Addressing the Challenge of Coal began with a presentation by Susan Kidd, Director of Sustainability at Agnes Scott College, discussing the institutional challenge of cheap coal, and the college’s focus on funding options for energy efficiency and renewable energy,. Matt Earnest, Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development at Bridgemont Community and Technical College showcased how the institution’s Sustainability Institute is bringing together multiple organizations with varying viewpoints to promote sustainability through workforce education, academic enhancement, and community development. Gordie Bennett, Sustainability Manager at the University of Tennessee Knoxville also provided examples of their institutional path to a cleaner campus by converting the nearly 50-year old UT Knoxville Steam Plant to 100% natural gas and fuel oil, with a focus on the decision making process that weighed the social and economic implications of going coal free in the Tennessee Valley.

Lunch with the President’s Panel

Second Nature President David Hales moderated the President’s Panel which included Elizabeth Kiss from Agnes Scott College (GA), Kenneth Peacock, Chancellor of Appalachian State University (NC), and Beverly Daniel Tatum, President of Spelman College (GA), in a dialogue on how higher education in the Southeast can lead the way to a clean, green, and sustainable economy. Participants followed the discussion with a question and answer session on the challenges facing presidential leadership in supporting sustainability initiatives on campus.

Sustainability as a Pedagogical Process

To conclude the event, Tom Kelly, Director of the Sustainability Academy at the University of New Hampshire, facilitated a session to remind attendees of the broader goal of “educating for sustainability.” With the campus as a learning platform, every building, the food eaten, classes attended, grounds and landscaping, etc. “count as an opportunity to cultivate a global sustainability outlook.” This session presented a pedagogical process that considers building case studies from campus to guide the learning community to ask good questions, investigate, and find sustainable solutions.

Summary: Collaborating for Success

The ACUPCC Southeast Regional Symposium attendees created new strategies for climate leadership, shared the steps necessary for putting a plan to action in a region where sustainability can be challenging, and learned from both campus and industry leaders that the work they do is more vital than ever.

By providing tangible resources, contacts, and ideas to support both Presidents and their staff’s efforts on campus, with a regional focus highlighting the unique issues associated with electricity rates, government policies, energy supply, and public opinion of the region, institutions were empowered to create beneficial partnerships that will support their mutual development in the coming years. Participating sustainability teams made significant headway in overcoming the obstacles to fulfilling the Commitment, and creating lasting regional connections.

84 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.  Click here to view the list of attendees.

Thank You!

Second Nature would like to thank the staff of Agnes Scott College for their partnership in hosting the event, and Aramark for providing food for the event.  And a special thanks to all attendees who found exciting new opportunities for creating and implementing their Climate Action Plans, as well as creative solutions to the challenges of creating a sustainable campus.  Well done!

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For more information on upcoming ACUPCC events, visit presidentsclimatecommitment.org/news-events

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By Andrea Putman, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Second Nature
(This article appears in the August, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The ACUPCC corporate sponsorship program has evolved from its initial inception in 2007 into a partnership of 27 sponsors that supports the ACUPCC in several ways.  The program provides the opportunity to bring corporate expertise to support schools in implementing the ACUPCC. It provides funding that is critical to securing additional philanthropic support and member dues from signatory schools, and it sends a strong signal to signatory institutions that the private sector believes that pursuing climate neutrality and sustainability in education and operations is important for all of society, including business.

Based on a meeting of the ACUPCC Steering Committee and sponsors at the June 2011 Climate Leadership Summit, Second Nature developed the “Corporate Council” and invited sponsors at the diamond, platinum, and gold levels to participate. Working with the ACUPCC Steering Committee and Second Nature, the corporate sponsors worked together to develop a “Corporate Council Statement in Support of Education for Sustainability,” which is included in the ACUPCC Five Year report. The statement follows:

As corporate supporters of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, we congratulate signatories on their remarkable progress.  We believe it is important for colleges and universities to provide students, faculty, and staff with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability and to demonstrate ways of sustainable living for the rest of society.  Our organizations and all of society need graduates with a thorough understanding of the health, social, economic and environmental facets of sustainability for societal success.  We think it is important for students in all fields of study to have a comprehensive understanding of sustainability in order to be successful and competitive in the rapidly changing global economy. We encourage all colleges and universities to become active ACUPCC participants and to implement the Commitment as quickly and comprehensively as possible.  We believe that a productive partnership between the private sector and higher education is critical in helping to make this a reality and are proud to be part of this important effort.

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A team of students and faculty from Alfred State College pose with electric car at AASHE 2011.*

The 2011 AASHE Conference, held in Pittsburgh Oct. 9-12, was a great success.  Second Nature was very involved, delivering plenary talks, panel sessions, and more, that highlighted our work supporting the ACUPCC.

The following members of the Second Nature staff, fellows and board were in attendance: Peter Bardaglio, Sarah Brylinsky, Tony Cortese, Georges Dyer, Bill Johnson, Nilda Mesa, Steve Muzzy, Toni Nelson, Andrea Putman, and Mitchell Thomashow.  As were our friends from the following ACUPCC Sponsor organizations: Organica, Siemens, Trane, Waste ManagementGreenerU and the American Meteorological Society.

Below are brief summaries of Second Nature’s main activities at the conference.  And here are links to presentations from some of Second Nature’s sessions:

Sunday, Oct. 9

Student Summit: The 2011 AASHE Student Summit hosted more than 600 attendees with a keynote from Bill McKibben founder of 350.org, and several motivating peer-to-peer presentation sessions.  Sarah Brylinsky represented the Second Nature team by facilitating breakout discussion groups for networking and action planning with the students, and provided an overview of the ACUPCC to students interested in climate action and sustainability education work on campus. Sarah also led a breakout networking session Tuesday evening with Steve Muzzy and members of the AASHE team for 30-40 students, focused explicitly on connecting students working on similar issues, including signing the ACUPCC and regional climate action.

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By Joe Berkemeyer, Director, Financial Services and Steve Hoiberg, Global Market Manager, Higher Education, Siemens Industry Inc.
(This article appears in the August, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

Capital restriction is one of the greatest impediments to making energy efficiency and facility infrastructure improvements. Siemens Industry, Inc., has developed a comprehensive program that eliminates that hurdle. Conserv™ allows private higher education customers to enhance their properties without allocating capital. The contract is structured as a services agreement that meets U.S. and international accounting standards.

Funding Energy Conservation Projects

In the past decade colleges and universities have set high standards for environmental and sustainability goals; in many cases, numerous energy efficiency measures with quick paybacks have already been implemented. As such, institutions are now asking themselves how to accomplish the next round of energy efficiency measures, those that will allow them to achieve 100% of their sustainability/energy/green goals. This next level of improvements, often involving longer paybacks, puts additional pressure on already strained capital funding. The mandate remains “do more with less.” As a result, administrators are challenged with allocating capital to conservation projects though the demand for capital resources continues to grow. Siemens Industry, Inc., has developed a program that enables private colleges and universities to realize the benefits of investing in sustainability and meeting their environmental goals while mitigating the impact the investments have on capital budgets.

Siemens Conserv™ program allows for the installation of a comprehensive equipment package that reduces utility consumption and other operating costs. One key component relates to the customer’s obligation to pay for the improvements; it’s completely limited to the extent that cost reductions are achieved. For each period, customarily a year, Siemens provides an extensive audit and verifies the actual amount of cost reductions. The customer’s cost is based on the results of the audit. Siemens uses indus¬try-standard IPMVP protocols and calculations that can be independently verified.

Conserv™ – Capital Contract

Energy and operational savings for Conserv™ agreements are derived from facility improvement measures. Utilizing this methodology, colleges and universities are able to do more in regard to energy efficiency and infrastructure improvements.
Facility improvement measures implemented and operational savings realized by Conserv™ customers include:

  • Facility Improvement Measures – Building automation & controls, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), building envelope improvements, chilled/steam/hot water system improvements, metering, pumps, fans, motors and drives, domestic water, cogeneration (onsite generation of electricity), compressor system improve¬ments, renewable energy, utility rate optimization.
  • Operational Reduction – There are a variety of operating costs reductions ConservTM can utilitize such as reductions in maintenance costs and capital cost avoidance.

Customers utilizing this program have been able to improve their infrastructure while directing operating capital to other projects or programs. These customers pay for performance that has been generated, nothing more.

For more information, please go to usa.siemens.com or contact Steve Hoiberg at steve.hoiberg@siemens.com or 708.502.8305

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