Leadership and Innovation from the First Five Years of the ACUPCC

January 25, 2012

2012 marks the 5 Year Anniversary of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), and with it a growing collection of successful leadership stories and innovative projects from over 670 signatory institutions. The first submission of Progress Reports for institutions that have completed a Climate Action Plan show remarkable progress in climate mitigation and education for sustainability.

In just five years, campuses across the nation have pioneered innovative approaches to finance climate mitigation, pursue climate and sustainability related research, reorient curriculum to address climate and sustainability issues, and most importantly engage their student’s and local community’s to address climate disruption.

The paths to climate neutrality and education for sustainability are as diverse as they are inspiring. Here are just a few of the tremendous successes in the first five years of the initiative:

Progress Reports on the Climate Action Plan

Below are just a few examples of recently submitted Progress Reports on institutions’ Climate Action Plans:

Associate’s Colleges

Haywood Community College (NC)
Haywood CC Climate Action Plan and the Progress Report 2012

HCC Building Certificate

The HCC CAP lays out target strategies, actions, and measurable results for each topic. The plan includes a target of including sustainability in a course required for all first semester students,to achieve 100% literacy on the fundamentals of sustainability for all first year, first semester students.  HCC offers a Low Impact DevelopmentA.A.S. degree, a Green Building Certificate, and a 5-day BioFuel Technical Training Program for the community.

Eastern Iowa Community College District (IA)
EICCD Climate Action Plan and Progress Report 2012 

Learning lab at the ATEEC

In spite of a building footprint increase of 165,000 square feet and 40% increase in enrollment in the past two years, Eastern Iowa Community College District’s GHG emissions dropped by over 3000 MTCO2e, and our emissions per 1000 ft of building space reduced 14.3%. EICCD houses the Advanced Technology Environment and Energy Center – a National Science Foundation Center of Excellance for the advancement of environmental and energy technology education through curriculum development, professional development, and program improvement.

Cedar Valley College (TX)
Cedar Valley Climate Action Plan

The Institute for Sustainable Communities at Cedar Valley College

The Sustainable Community Institute offers a Residential Building Performance Technology program. On-site capstone courses prepare students for green careers in numerous areas: energy management; energy auditors; energy efficiency specialists; building weatherization technicians; measurement and verification technicians; building utility analysis; and, project management in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC). The credit program includes Rater and Specialist Certificates, and an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences. Currently, in development is the Commercial Building Performance Technology program focusing on energy efficiency for commercial buildings.

Baccalaureate Colleges

University of Minnesota, Morris (MN)
UMN Climate Action Plan and the UMN Progress Report 2012 

UMM’s Biomass Gasification Facility

70% of the campus’ electrical needs are by wind power, and 100% on good windy days with one turbine producing 5.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The campus benefits from a biomass gasification research & energy production facility funded by the Minnesota Legislature ($6 million), injecting $500,000 into the local economy by buying and consuming local biomass, such as 9,000 tons of corn residue and prairie grass biofuels per year, and prevents 8,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Allegheny College (PA)
Allegheny College Climate Action Plan and the Allegheny College Progress Report

Allegheny College and K-12 students working together

Allegheny College is partnering with 40 regional K-12 schools to encourage environmental science through its Creek Connections program, which is turning the region’s waterways into outdoor environmental laboratories for both the college and K-12 students. Students and faculty at Allegheny are also producing wind feasibility studies by working with Acutec Precision Machining, a local wind manufacturer. Through its FarmSource program, Allegheny’s dining service includes locally grown food and a local food dinner that celebrates local farms and bakeries.

Master’s Colleges & Universities 

Arizona State University (AZ)
ASU Climate Action Plan and Progress Report 2012

ASU Student Explorers

Engaging K-12 students in real scientific research is the goal of ASU’s “Ecology Explorers” program. Students can find resources online, and connect with real scientists, to learn about the scientific method and conduct their own research as part of a larger study being conducted by area scientists – data becomes a part of the Central Arizona – Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER).

University of Baltimore (MD)
University of Baltimore Climate Action Plan and Progress Report 2012

University of Baltimore Green Roof

Plants cover the top of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at University of Baltimore. The plantings on top of the law center reflect heat and sunlight, take in greenhouse gases and provide oxygen, reduce storm water runoff and reduce the amount of heat necessary to heat the building.  Additionally, Heavy marketing of alternative transportation and an increase in annual student transit passes of 158% since 2007.

Doctoral/Research Colleges & Universities 

University of California – San Diego (CA)
UC – San Diego Climate Action Plan and Progress Report 2012

UC San Diego Fuel Cell

Construction of the largest fuel cell on a college campus has begun at University of California – San Diego. The fuel cell will provide 8 percent of the campuses power by transforming methane gas from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant into electricity without the use of combustion methods.

University of Vermont (VT)
University of Vermont Climate Action Plan and Progress Report 2012

University of Vermont Greening Healthcare

Twelve faculty members from 9 departments commenced the first Sustainability Faculty Fellows program meeting which produced a new course titled “Greening Healthcare Systems” and increasing the discussion of organic and local food production in “Ethics of Eating” at the University of Vermont. “UVM’s commitment to greening its curriculum needs to be as strong as its commitment to greening our buildings,” Stephanie Kaza. “The group took as its model other successful programs at UVM that bring faculty from different disciplines together for learning exchanges” – News release

Portland State University (OR)
PSU Climate Action Plan and Progress Report 2012

PSU students in sustainability coursework

Portland State University offers 14 degrees across 9 departments, 2 certificates, freshman and sophomore inquires and a capstone for University Studies, 2 professional development programs, and sustainability seminars as part of the Executive Leadership Institute. Other educational opportunities include a year-long Living Learning Community class during their freshman year and student organizations. Sustainability is declared as a learning outcome for all Portland State students.

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