October 1, 2013

by Ashka Naik, Director of ACUPCC Initiatives, Second Nature

As of September 2013, the ACUPCC reporting system has 1990 Greenhouse Gas Reports, 521 Climate Action Plans and 328 progress reports. As we look deeper into these publicly shared data—submitted by more than 670 institutions over the course of 5.5 years of the initiative—what we see is an intricate picture that is telling of the overall progress made by the US higher education sector in its pursuit to create a sustainable and thriving society. These outcomes can also educate us about the challenges and opportunities confronting our institutions.

In this blog series, we will highlight trends and patterns that emerge from these publicly submitted reports. Our goal in sharing these chronicles is twofold. It is to share the network’s impact by leveraging the power of data. But more importantly, it is to underscore how a committed community of “doers” at higher education institutions has brought this extraordinary higher education sustainability movement to life.

Analyzing submitted reports by Carnegie Classification reveals how different types of institutions are advancing in their Commitments to climate neutrality.

Figure 1: The above chart highlights how different Carnegie Classifications are represented within the ACUPCC.

Figure 2: The above chart highlights how different Carnegie Classifications are represented within the entire US higher education sector.
[Source: http://classifications.carnegiefoundation.org/summary/basic.php,
Accessed September 23, 2013].

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September 13, 2013

On Friday, September 20th, 2013, Second Nature will once again co-sponsor and participate in The New England Campus Sustainability Forum. This year’s theme is “Climate Change & New England Campuses: Impacts and Solutions” and it will take place at Colleges of the Fenway in Boston, MA.

We invite you to join Second Nature and our partners for the following educational opportunities:

Assessing Campus Vulnerabilities to Climate Impacts (Workshop)

This workshop will provide an overview of climate impact assessment resources using the 2013 National Climate Assessment, and discuss components of preparing a campus and community vulnerability assessment.

Panelists include:
• Sarah Brylinsky, Director, Climate Resilience & Education Programs, Second Nature
• Anne Waple, Program Manager for Climate Adaptation, Second Nature
• Jenn Andrews, Acting Executive Director, Clean Air-Cool Planet

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July 24, 2013

by Gabriela Boscio, Program Associate, Second Nature

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”
― Carl Sagan

(This post is part of a series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

How does love grow? When do you know it has taken root? How can you pinpoint its beginning?

My passion for sustainability is something that’s been growing within me for most of my life, and I am not sure exactly when or why it started. As a child, I loved plants and animals. I loved reading about them and learning about them, and I loved observing nature. I remember thinking in grade school that I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up, because I wanted to keep learning about nature, through exploration and investigation. My family supported and encouraged this love by providing me with copious amounts of nature books, magazines and collectible wildlife fact cards, as well as by spending time with me outdoors, and putting up with my incessant animal-factoid sharing (“Did you know baby cheetahs chirps like birds?”).

Example of a book from my childhood. Joyce Rogers Wolkomir and Richard Wolkomir. 1992.

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June 6, 2013

Yesterday we announced the recipients of this year's Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards. Congratulations to these impressive and deserving institutions!

2013 Climate Leadership Award Winners

    Doctorate Granting University
    Missouri University of Science & Technology (MO)
    Portland State University (OR)
    SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry (NY)   

    Master's Granting Institution
    Chatham University (PA)
    Goddard College (VT)

    Baccalaureate College
    Middlebury College (VT)
    Oberlin College (OH)  

    Associate's College
    Bellevue College (WA)
    University of Hawaii Kauai Community College (HI)

    Special Focus Institution
    Pratt Institute (NY)

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June 1, 2013
Posted in: Second Nature Team

By Jario Garcia, Kresge Implementation Fellow, Second Nature

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May 7, 2013
Posted in: ACUPCC Implementer

By Richard D. Schulterbrandt Gragg, Associate Professor, School of the Environment, Chair, FAMU Environment & Sustainability Council

(This article appears in the May, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The Roots of Sustainability

"If you’re looking for a big opportunity, seek out a big problem." This guidance by H. Jackson Brown Sr. speaks to the many opportunities and challenges we have experienced at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in finding a home for the cultivation, integration and expression of our interests in environment and society. The big opportunity is to institutionalize sustainability in the context and framework of FAMU’s rich and storied relationship to the environment rooted in its history, its people and community, and its recognition as a pioneering academic institution. FAMU was founded in October 1887 and is an 1890 land-grant institution ‘dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, resolution of complex issues and the empowerment of citizens and communities.’ The main campus is located in Tallahassee midway between Jacksonville and Pensacola; the College of Law is in Orlando. The effort to formally prioritize environmental issues and sustainability began in 2007 when the student-led FAMU Green Coalition petitioned then President James H. Ammons to create and implement a sustainability program and has culminated with FAMU becoming a 2013 signatory to the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment. When asked why he signed the Commitment, Interim President Larry Robinson replied: “It was the consensus of the students, faculty, staff, administration and stakeholders for FAMU to publically declare its actions and commit to an environmental leadership role in accord with our historic mission and vision in collaboration with other higher education institutions.”

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May 7, 2013
Posted in: ACUPCC Implementer

By Preston Jacobsen, Sustainability Analyst, Haywood Community College

(This article appears in the May, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Haywood Community College (HCC) has a rich history of sustainability. When President Rose H. Johnson arrived in January 2006 she made sure sustainability was a strategic imperative for the college. In May of 2007 President Johnson signed the ACUPCC, committing HCC to the far-reaching goal of eliminating its operational greenhouse gas emissions, supporting the educational opportunities for students to advance a low carbon society and to publicly report progress on an annual basis. To support the goals of the ACUPCC and other sustainability efforts, HCC also joined AASHE, participates in AASHE's STARS program, and is a member of the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center. In order to be successful in its sustainability endeavors, President Johnson implemented a cross-campus team based approach to enhance and integrate educational offerings with the campus' day-to-day operations. To coordinate this effort HCC hired an Energy Manager and a Sustainability Technician to oversee the sustainability projects, grants, and initiatives of the college. In 2009, President Johnson extended her sustainability leadership beyond the campus by partnering with President Rusty Stephens and Wilson Community College to create the CODE Green Initiative. CODE GREEN is a North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) initiative to develop and promote Sustainable programs across all 58 NCCC's through curriculum and campus development. 

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May 7, 2013
Posted in: ACUPCC Implementer

By Robert J. Koester, Professor of Architecture & Director of Center for Energy Research, Education & Service

(This article appears in the May, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)


This article provides a brief overview of the history of activities at Ball State University as we have engaged the challenges of bringing sustainability into the many dimensions of the campus community.  The long-standing history of interest which predates the origination of the ACUPCC and the follow-on implementation of ACUPCC are described.  Key points regarding institutional structure, the role of champions, and the importance of communication are emphasized.  Finally the benefit of our long-standing engagement is noted in the current branding of the institution.

Starting in 1990, Ball State University began its “dance” with the challenges of sustainability. At that time, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Warren Vander Hill, appointed our first Green Committee (G-1) consisting of 14 members charged with formulating “…recommendations which, if undertaken might raise environmental consciousness in our student body, foster conviction in students regarding these issues, and empower them with understandings of how they might effectively channel their awareness to shape the future...”  Some 35 recommendations were made; including short-term immediate actions that could occur at no cost and longer-term, more substantial steps that would require structural change and/or sizable capital expenditure.  

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May 7, 2013

By Gabriela Boscio, Sustainability Capacity Building Intern at Second Nature 

All through Earth Month, finalists of the 2013 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards vied for the most votes on the video they produced. Each of these 2-3 minute videos highlights the innovative sustainability efforts on their campuses. Voting was held through Planet Forward's website and ran from April 1 to April 30, 2013. Read the press release for more details.

After a total of 48,882 votes cast during the month-long period of public voting, the winner of this year's 2013 Climate Leadership Awards Video Competition is Missouri University of Science and Technology. This Doctorate Granting Institution garnered 16,374 votes, making it the top vote earner overall and in its Carnegie classification.

Missouri S&T’s entry features the university’s Solar Village, a neighborhood of student-built solar houses that acts as a living lab and home for students and faculty. The video also highlights their geothermal energy project, which will reduce the campus’s carbon dioxide emissions by 25,000 tons per year and cut energy usage in half.

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April 5, 2013
Posted in: ACUPCC, Climate Action, News
Completion of a biomass plant in 2012 allowed Colby to switch to low-grade wood as its primary fuel, saving close to 1 million gallons of oil per year.

"Colby is the fourth signatory of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment to achieve carbon neutrality and the largest institution to reach that goal to date," said David Hales, president of Second Nature, the support organization of the ACUPCC. "Colby's achievement is particularly significant; they have followed both the spirit and letter of the commitment to insure that their net contribution to atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases is zero, while setting a practical example of sustainability in every aspect of their institutional life."

Read the full news release, and learn more about how Colby achieved this milestone.

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