May 15, 2014

Creating an Intentionally Designed Endowment

Leaders from nearly 100 organizations gather to discuss strategies to reduce risk and increase returns while aligning endowment portfolio investing practices with organizational mission.

Over the past fifteen years, sustainability has increasingly become a strategic imperative for all organizations.  On a crowded planet with complex challenges ranging from resource scarcity to climate change and income inequality to political unrest, there are a myriad of risks and opportunities that affect all aspects of an entity’s activities.  Increasingly, endowed tax-exempt organizations are realizing that these dynamics extend to their investment portfolios.

On April 3-4, 2014, Second Nature and Hampshire College convened a group of high-level stakeholders to explore a wide variety of approaches to aligning higher education and foundation endowment investment portfolios with their institutional mission and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.  The report from the Intentionally Designed Endowment conference is now available.  It captures the event outcomes and opportunities for moving forward:

Moving Forward: Advancing the Intentionally Designed Endowment

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May 6, 2014

Today, the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) report was released in Washington DC and will be followed by a White House event this afternoon.

The report has been in production for several years and represents the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment ever produced of climate science, impacts (now and in the future), and options for the U.S.  This remarkable effort is the work of 60 members of a Federal Advisory Committee, 240 authors, and hundreds of reviewers – all representing expertise from government, academia, NGOs, and business. The report covers 8 regions of the U.S. as well as sectors such as transportation, energy, water, and many more critical areas of the U.S. economy.  

The full report as well as highlights documents can be found at

The report illustrates that climate impacts are being felt across all areas of the U.S. and are increasingly evident in the present. Impacts are expected to increase in the future. Many Americans are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and are considering how to respond. While some progress is being made with respect to reducing the causes of change (mitigation) as well as reducing the vulnerability of society to impacts (adaptation), the NCA indicates that there is much more work to be done - progress so far has been largely incremental. In addition to capturing the potential severity of climate impacts, the report highlights both the need and the opportunity of addressing climate change.

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April 30, 2014

By Georges Dyer

Since the Intentionally Designed Endowment meeting, April 3-4 in Cambridge, MA, participants have been sharing additional resources with the organizers, which we have compiled below to share with the rest of the ACUPCC network.

Please continue to send resources to Michele Madia ( you think will be of value to your colleagues, and we will disseminate them periodically while we develop more robust online resources and communication channels.


The Nature Conservancy and JP MorganChase, April 2014

NRDC, BlackRock and FTSE Jumpstart Mainstream Climate-Conscious Investing
Press Release, April 2014

Building A Carbon Free Equity Portfolio
Aperio Group, April 2014

Solar installations in New Jersey Interview with TerraVerde Capital, April 17, 2014

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April 11, 2014

By Anne Waple, Second Nature

A new documentary series on the human impacts of climate change combines the appeal of a big Hollywood movie production, with real human stories, grounded science, and experienced reporting.

Celebrities from Matt Damon to Don Cheadle to Harrison Ford work with veteran Emmy Award-winning reporters such as Lesley Stahl to show the human face of climate change impacts from across the globe. 

The series ranges across the globe covering the impacts of drought in Texas and the Middle East, to major storms on the U.S. East Coast, to deforestation in Indonesia and a new breed of wildfire in California. Through the eyes of non climate-expert celebrities, we get a view of climate impacts that reflects their own journey of understanding. While they interview and rely on climate scientists to provide the scientific foundation behind the stories, the series focuses on real impacts for real people trying to figure out ways to cope. The series is being billed as 'ground-breaking', and from what we have seen so far, the combination of its production value, scientific insight, and human focus may well prove to be just that. The series comes at a time to reinforce recent reports from the scientific community that highlight the robust state of climate science knowledge as well as the seriousness of impacts.

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April 7, 2014

By Georges Dyer

What is an “intentionally designed endowment”?  Last week Second Nature and Hampshire College – with support from a high caliber Steering Committee –convened a group of representatives from endowed institutions and the finance industry to explore this question.

We developed a primer for participants to establish a baseline understanding of key issues related to aligning investment practices with institutional values.  It provides a high-level overview of sustainability investing, including a brief history, and a select list of key resources and relevant organizations.

Any non-profit administrator or trustee with fiduciary responsibility or involved with investment policies should be familiar with this rapidly evolving field: Intentionally Designed Endowment Primer

While we are all aware of the fossil fuel divestment movement – which has been instrumental in bringing increased attention to endowment investment practices – this was not a meeting about divestment.

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April 2, 2014
Posted in: Adaptation, Resources

By Anne Waple, Second Nature


IPCC reports progress on responding to climate change, but much more action needed to reduce risk

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second in a three-part global climate assessment. The report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, was written by 309 Coordinating Lead Authors from 70 countries, an additional 436 contributing authors, and was reviewed by over 1700 experts. The report looks at the nature of changing climate risk and the opportunities to increase resilience in a changing climate.

The report is certainly the most comprehensive global report of its kind and represents the current state of consensus understanding on impacts and responses related to climate change. This report also sets the stage for the release of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, due to hit the streets in late April/early May. That assessment will take a closer look at climate changes, impacts, and responses at the scale of the U.S. (watch this space for more on that soon as well as an overview of several recent and upcoming reports and how to use them!).

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March 21, 2014

By Gabriela Boscio, ACUPCC Program Associate


A large part of our work towards achieving a sustainable society is based on the connections we make and the information we share using cross-institutional platforms and events. One such event was the 9th Annual Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference, which several representatives from Second Nature recently had the pleasure of attending. The conference, which ran from March 3-4, 2014 and was held in Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor featured presentations focused on Adaptation and Resilience, Change Management and Implementation, Social Sustainability, the Built Environment and the Campus as a Learning Laboratory.

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March 21, 2014


By Mark Orlowski, Founder & Executive Director, Sustainable Endowments Institute


In April, a new tool will be launched to help colleges achieve their ACUPCC goals through streamlined tracking and calculation of project-level energy, financial and carbon data.  GRITS 1.0 (Green Revolving Investment Tracking System) is a breakthrough web platform that provides real, accessible, shareable data to unite management of both financial and environmental project performance.

Developed by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, an ACUPCC and Second Nature partner, GRITS offers a necessary bridge between managing and reporting, creating the space for schools to track, analyze and share information on specific projects or groups of projects--well beyond the capabilities of spreadsheets.


The GRITS 1.0 tool is the culmination of more than two years of internal development and guidance from colleges and universities across North America.  These schools benefited from using GRITS beta to manage their green revolving funds (GRFs)--an innovative financing mechanism to recapture cost savings from energy and resource efficiency projects.  More information on green revolving funds is available on The Billion Dollar Green Challenge website.

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February 21, 2014

Introducing Climate Studies at Coppin State University

by Mintesinot Jiru (PhD),  
Associate Professor and Chair,  



Building consensus around climate change issues is an arduous challenge as it requires significant public engagement. This takes a toll on higher learning institutions as they have to initiate and support the discussion and provide scientific data that present the climate reality.

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January 31, 2014
Last week at Second Nature, it was with mixed emotions that we said goodbye to two of our most valued colleagues. We are sad at their departure and at the same time we are thrilled for them as they move onto exciting new opportunities. We wanted to take a moment to highlight their critical contributions to Second Nature over the years, and publicly wish them well!  
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