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By Van H. Du, Program Associate, Second Nature

Sustainable CampusesThe United Negro College Fund (UNCF) recently published Sustainable Campuses: Building Green at Minority-Serving Institutions to showcase the outstanding leadership and accomplishments achieved by many minority-serving colleges and universities in their efforts towards campus sustainability and climate neutrality.

Sustainable Campuses is a collection of discussions and case studies, written by educational and environmental representatives from both public and private sectors, focusing on the topics of campus leadership, funding opportunities for campus sustainability initiatives, and the greening of campus facilities and operations. Developed and compiled by the Building Green project of UNCF Institute for Capacity Building, the articles in Sustainable Campuses also highlight the many challenges and opportunities, which MSIs have experienced in their journey towards engaging, planning and implementing sustainability initiatives across their campuses.

Through the stories on innovative ideas, experiences, lesson learned, as well as best practices shared in this publication, it is clear that sustainability efforts and progress made by MSIs are tremendous. And as UNCF President Dr. Michael Lomax expresses in his introduction, “By reading this book, by thinking about how you and your institution might benefit from the projects these articles describes, and by acting on your convictions, you become part of the solution.”

The publication is a product of collaborations between UNCF, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), and Second Nature. The Building Green at MSIs project is made possible by the generous support from The Kresge Foundation.

To order a copy of the publication, please click here.  For more information on the publication, please contact Felicia Davis, Director, UNCF Building Green Initiative, at Felicia.Davis@uncfsp.org

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Over the past year at Second Nature I’ve been coordinating the “Higher Education Adaptation Committee” – a group of college and university administrators, climate scientists, sustainability professionals and educators exploring higher education’s role and responsibility in ensuring that society is prepared to weather the storms of climate change.

On Monday at the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference at the University of Maryland, I co-facilitated a session on this topic with David Caruso, President of Antioch University New England (who serves on the Adaptation Committee).

It proved to be a timely event.  On the day of the session, temperatures in New Hampshire reached the 90s (in April!). It’s been a warm spring all over the northeastern US.  And it was a warm winter – not really a winter at all in many places. Here, the mild weather doesn’t feel all that bad.  But if you understand the implications of climate disruption, it’s pretty horrifying.

I won’t run through the usual list of climate impacts – but here are just a few of recent headlines:

The following video does a great job of explaining how increases in the global average temperatures (global warming) drives all kinds of complex climactic changes – what’s become known as “global weirding”:

On May 5, 2012, the global network of concerned citizens under the 350.org banner will be “connecting the dots” between these impacts of climate change and what they represent in terms of economic damage, ecological destruction and human suffering.

To minimize this damage, we need to continue to create better ways of doing things.  We need to eliminate our greenhouse gas emissions and land-use changes that are driving climate change. (more…)

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By James Brey, Director, AMS Education Program and Elizabeth Mills, Associate Director, AMS Education Program
(This article appears in the February, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The National Science Foundation (NSF) GeoVision report underscores the critical need for increasing public literacy in the geosciences. Daily, Americans learn about threats to the Earth, such as the peril of global climate change and the increasing frequency of natural and manmade hazards.  It is imperative the public gain a deeper understanding of the underlying scientific processes that influence these events. It also is essential that our educational system and workforce reflect our diversity as a nation.

To this end, NSF is supporting a long-term partnership between American Meteorological Society (AMS) and Second Nature to introduce the AMS Climate Studies course to 100 Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) nationwide.  The course is a ready-made way for MSIs to strengthen the curriculum component of their ACUPCC Climate Action Plans and provide students with an up-to-date study of climate science, including global change and sustainability issues.

Faculty members are invited to an expenses-paid, five-day course implementation workshop in Washington, DC, to learn the latest in climate science. The implementation workshop, offered annually for a four-year period beginning in May 2012, will leverage the climate expertise of scientists from NASA, NOAA, and many other DC area educational and research institutions.  NASA supported the development of AMS Climate Studies and the course is rich with real world and current Earth Observing System data. Faculty are also invited to attend a diversity workshop and present their AMS Climate Studies course experience at the AMS Annual Meeting.

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By Ashka Naik, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Development, Second Nature
(This article appears in the February, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC This article is based on a chapter in the forthcoming publication, UNCF Sustainable Campuses: Building Green at Minority Serving Institutions. It will be available in April 2012 on the Kyoto Publishing website as well as at http://buildinggreennetwork.org/.

To level the playing field by bridging the resource gap between wealthy and under-resourced institutions, and to enable more institutions to commit to and implement the ACUPCC, Second Nature is proactively developing innovative programs that enhance the sustainability capacity of under-resourced institutions. Second Nature has also partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) on the “UNCF Building Green at Minority-Serving Institutions” initiative, and provided guidance on UNCF’s sustainability efforts for the past two years to actively engage minority-serving institutions in this sustainability movement.

Second Nature and UNCF

“Environmental sustainability is a critical part of operating every college and a critical part of the education a 21st-century college provides for its students. Second Nature has been an invaluable thought partner in helping UNCF, its member historically black colleges and universities, and all minority-serving institutions make sustainability not just an ideal but a day-to-day reality. UNCF’s partnership with Second Nature has fostered a re-imagination of how minority-serving institutions relate to our environment and what we are capable of doing together to assure a safer, greener and cleaner planet.”

– Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO, UNCF

With the assistance of such collaborative capacity-building opportunities and the framework offered through the ACUPCC model, 89 minority-serving institutions — including two college districts — have made deep commitments to climate neutrality by signing the ACUPCC in the recent years. By providing the needed momentum and network, the ACUPCC assists these institutions in pursuing climate neutrality, galvanizing the campus community, reducing costs, and opening up new opportunities for funding, education, research and community engagement.

In the past two years, presidents of 20 minority-serving institutions have signed the ACUPCC and committed their institutions to climate action!

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By Felicia Davis, Director, Facilities & Infrastructure Enhancement, Institute for Capacity Building, United Negro College Fund
(This article appears in the September, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The UNCF Building Green at Minority-Serving Institutions Initiative has emerged as the coordinating collective for sustainability efforts targeting historically black, tribal, Hispanic-serving and Asian American Pacific Islander, public and private, two-year and four-year colleges and universities. This visionary Initiative is funded by the Kresge Foundation and has been strategically supported by our partners. The Building Green Initiative partnership includes the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and Second Nature. The Initiative also works with the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, Asian American Pacific Islander College Fund and American Association of Community Colleges SEED program to advance campus-wide sustainability at minority-serving institutions.

Increasing signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and LEED building are two specific program objectives. The Building Green Initiative hosts learning institutes, workshops and webinars that provide education and training for administrators, faculty and students engaged in advancing campus sustainability. UNCF seeks opportunities to partner in ways that leverage available resources to build capacity within partner organizations and their membership as a core partnership principle and Initiative goal.

In January 2012 the Building Green Initiative will enter its third year and is working to establish goals, objectives and funding for the next phase. During phase one of the program, 16 new Minority Serving Institutions signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Working with Second Nature to increase MSI signatories and following up with new and prospective signatories, we have determined that it is critical to establish a foundation or “institutional readiness” for advancing sustainability initiatives as a first step on the sustainability path. It is also important to educate campus leadership about the goals, expectations and costs associated with becoming a signatory to the ACUPCC. This will help to ensure that the university goals and timelines are in alignment with ACUPCC reporting requirements when the Commitment is signed. (more…)

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By Barbara Koneval, Program Associate, Education & Training

Over 35 representatives from minority serving institutions including faculty, administration, facilities managers, students and deans gathered in Atlanta for a 2-day training presented by Second Nature and Clean Air Cool Planet, as part of the UNCF Building Green Initiative training Series, funded by the Kresge Foundation.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hunter Photography

The goal of the initiative is to build both the sustainability knowledge and capacity of minority serving college and universities and help them overcome barriers to building green and planning for carbon reductions on their campuses.

The first day of the workshop started with an introduction to greenhouse gas management. Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) led the training on the Campus Carbon Calculator™, a tool that’s been used by students, faculty and sustainability managers on over 1,000 campuses to measure their emissions on campus.

Jennifer Andrews and Claire Roby from CA-CP reviewed the basics of what a greenhouse gas inventory is, the

Photo Credit: Donnie Hunter Photography

steps in the process, how to collect data, what to expect and how to engage stakeholders on your campus in addition to providing cases studies from two schools that have used the calculator.   Participants ended the day by crunching real numbers and working with a set of data entering the information into the excel based tool. CA-CP reviewed the Projections and Solutions module of the calculator on the second day of the workshop including how to use these modules as a strategic planning tool to prioritize and understand the impacts of potential projects.

Day 2 of the workshop transitioned from the details of GHG Management to a review of the overall process of climate action planning.   Matt Williams from Auburn University and Bowen Close from Pomona College were the peer trainers for this portion of the workshop.  Matt and Bowen focused on the climate action planning process and case studies from their respective schools, the similarities and differences between Auburn as a large public institution and Pomona a smaller private college, and the common lessons learned from their experiences.

Photo Credit: Donnie Hunter Photography

The goals for the day were to have participants understand the key elements of a climate action plan and learn best practices from their peers on other campuses.  In addition, participants worked in teams to create a strategy and to-do list to take back to their campus.   Participants broke out into groups and discussed challenges, supports that are currently in place at their institution, objectives and next steps.

Participants walked away with new ideas and a clearer understanding of both GHG management and climate action planning. The workshop was an opportunity to learn new information, but to also connect with their peers, share ideas and build a network to provide each other with support as they begin this process.

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By Felicia Davis, Director, Facilities & Infrastructure Enhancement, Institute for Capacity Building, UNCF and Ashka Naik, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Second Nature

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

The ACUPCC

Second Nature, in collaboration with UNCF, will host a special side event during the upcoming COP 16 UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico on Friday, December 3 at the Meridian Hotel featuring US colleges and universities committed to reducing their carbon footprints.  The session will share best practices from US Black, Hispanic-Serving and Tribal colleges and universities that have signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).  Senior officials from three signatory institutions — each at a different stage in the ACUPCC process — will describe how the ACUPCC provides a framework for advancing campus sustainability. (more…)

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