Data Chronicles: Lowest emissions per Fulltime Equivalent and by Square Footage

February 10, 2015

by Amanda Carpenter, Program Associate, Second Nature

Within the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment network, we like to highlight institutions that are making outstanding progress towards their carbon neutrality goals. Two of the metrics that we use to normalize the data are emissions per Full Time Equivalent, and emissions per 1000 square feet. These data points are taken from the self-reported values in the Greenhouse Gas and Progress Reports that are submitted by signatory institutions.

Emissions per Full Time Equivalent

The school that had the lowest gross emissions per Full Time Equivalent was the American Public University System at about 0.1 metric tons of CO2e, rounded up in our system to the nearest tenth. For their 2015 Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the American Public University System reported a Full Time Equivalent of 42136.0 students.

In the narrative section of the 2014 Progress Report, the American Public University System points to its high density and online learning 

programs as being a contributor for their success. 

Early Bird Progress Reports

January 6, 2015

by Rachael Moreland, Second Nature Intern

The year 2015 brings waves of New Year’s resolutions from people who seek improvement. And among them, Second Nature signatories will share their efforts toward improving campus sustainability. Every other year, signatories submit a Progress Report on advancement towards their Climate Action Plan goals. Although the deadline to submit Progress Reports isn’t until January 15, a handful of schools already shared their accomplishments. I would like to highlight a few submissions that particularly captured our attention.

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January 15: ACUPCC Annual Reporting Deadline

December 11, 2014

As we head into the new year, we would like to remind you of a few important activities related to your American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) implementation:

  1. The annual reporting deadline for the ACUPCC is January 15, 2015: Please check your reporting status by visiting the ACUPCC Reporting System and entering your institution's name in the field provided. If you have any reports past due (shown in red), please submit them or contact the ACUPCC Support Team to discuss how to get your institution back on track.
  2. Implementation Profile Update: Please make sure that your institution's Implementation Profile is up to date. For instructions on how to update your institution's Implementation Profile, you can watch this video. The Implementation Profile is a short online form that provides us with information about your institution, including contact details for communications directed to Presidents and Implementation Liaisons. If you are not the correct point of contact, please let us know.
  3. Reporting Extensions: If you are unable to meet the January 15, 2015 reporting deadline, a request for an extension may be submitted. In order to avoid a “Not in Good Standing” reporting status, signatories should apply for an extension as soon as they become aware that they will be unable make the deadline.
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Minimizing Risk, Maximizing Leadership: Colleges and Universities at the Forefront of Climate Action

October 24, 2014

by Kate Gordon, Executive Director, Risky Business Project

I grew up in and around universities. As the child of a law professor, I spent time in Buffalo, NY, Madison, WI, and Palo Alto, CA, often doing my homework at the back of lecture halls and empty classrooms. Ultimately I ended up at Wesleyan for my B.A., and then at UC Berkeley for joint degrees in law and city planning, paving the way for my current work on energy and climate policy.

Even with all this exposure to academia, I only fully grasped the role that universities can play in fighting climate change a few weeks ago, when I was lucky enough to spend a day at the annual conference of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment. I was there to talk about the Risky Business Project, an initiative co-chaired by former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and long-time investor and climate activist Tom Steyer. The project takes a classic business risk assessment approach to climate change and identifies specific risks facing each region of the U.S. in three major sectors: energy demand, coastal infrastructure, and commodity agriculture. Our research also identified significant impacts on mortality rates and labor productivity from global temperature increases.

ACUPCC Signatories, American University and George Washington University Join Together for Largest Solar Power Purchase

July 17, 2014

by Janna Cohen-Rosenthal

Shifting power supply to renewable energy is a crucial strategy towards achieving climate neutrality. Generating significant quantities of renewable energy on a campus may not be feasible, especially in urban settings. Supporting offsite projects is an effective, but less common, solution. It is exciting to see the Washington DC-based schools and ACUPCC signatories, American University (AU) and George Washington University (GW) take leadership and support a large offsite solar energy project. The institutions joined together with George Washington University Hospital to form The Capital Partners Solar Project, which was announced early this summer.

The project will be the largest non-utility solar photovoltaic power purchase agreement in the United States in total megawatt hours contracted. It is being constructed by Duke Energy Renewables on land in North Carolina. Once completed in 2015, the solar panels will generate 123 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, estimated to be the equivalent of powering 8,200 homes.


Chevy Buys Carbon Credits from Colleges and Universities

June 9, 2014

Chevrolet recently announced it is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of U.S. colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. Chevrolet helped develop a new carbon credit methodology with clean energy efficiency stakeholders so that campuses can earn money for certain upgrades that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As carbon emissions continue to contribute to the warming of the earth, such funding enables universities to reduce their impact and save money on utility bills while engaging and educating students in their efforts.

ACUPCC campuses are increasingly pursuing aggressive clean energy efficiency efforts from installing more efficient building equipment to using renewable energy to help power operations. With this initiative, Chevrolet will buy and retire carbon credits resulting from some campuses’ greenhouse gas reductions from either their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings or other campus-wide energy-saving initiatives.

GRITS 1.0 - A New Tool for Energy Efficiency Project Tracking

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.

Climate Studies at Coppin State University

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.

UC Irvine Earns California's Highest Environmental Honor

December 17, 2013

ACUPCC Signatory, University of California Irvine, has earned California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental & Economic Leadership Award for its Smart Labs program. UC Irvine is committed to Governor Brown's plan to reduce California's carbon footprint and to the University of California's commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, as recently announced by UC's new President, Janet Napolitano. Through UC Irvine’s “deep energy efficiency” program (their term for energy efficiency retrofit projects with associated significant energy savings) they are determined to demonstrate that efficiency can provide a major fraction of needed carbon abatement -- feasibly, quickly, and cost-effectively. The Irvine campus is now 

approaching a 50 percent overall reduction in energy intensity achieved through a comprehensive program of deep energy efficiency, as a result of their “Smart Labs” program. Only a few years ago, no one believed that efficiency improvements and retrofits would yield a major percentage of needed carbon abatement, because the efficiency gains of new technologies - particularly sensors, digital controls, and software – were underestimated. All of those are key elements in UCI's comprehensive “Smart Labs” retrofit program. 

Learn more about the award

Plains, Trains, and Sustainability

December 17, 2013

Plains, Trains, and Sustainability: Regional Collaborations with UMACS and NWF Campus Ecology


By Axum Teferra, Kresge Membership and Engagement Fellow




This year, Second Nature partnered with the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS) and National Wildlife Federation- Campus Ecology (NWF) for Second Nature’s first Midwest Regional Collaborative Symposium.The event took place from November 7th-9th, 2013 at Luther Collegein Decorah, Iowa, and integrated an ACUPCC (American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment) Pre-Conference for both signatory and non-signatory institutions.

Second Nature staff members chose to ride the rails from Massachusetts to Iowa in order to minimize the group’s carbon footprint. This 32-hour train ride took the team through many states and landscapes, ending at Luther College in Decorah, the Iowa town nestled in a 470 million year-old crater.  

View of wind turbine adjacent to the Luther College campus in Decorah, Iowa

Second Nature Staff

President Napolitano announcement

November 18, 2013

On Wednesday November 13th, the President Napolitano of the University of California, seal of the University of Californiaannounced her intent to bring the University to net energy neutrality by 2025. This bold plan builds on the reduction in carbon emissions that all campuses of the UC system have made as signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and demonstrates the true transformation that can result from higher education leadership. At Second Nature, we are looking forward to continuing to work with the campuses of the University and President Napolitano’s chancellors and staff as they implement this inspiring initiative. The full text of President Napolitano’s remarks can be found here:

ACUPCC Progress from Greenhouse Gas Reporting Trends

November 6, 2013

by Ashka Naik, Director of ACUPCC Initiatives, Second Nature


As of November 2013, 616 signatory institutions have submitted 1998 GHG Inventories in total.

616 institutions have submitted at least one GHG report.  492 institutions have submitted at least two GHG reports, with which we have datasets to analyze trends of emission within the ACUPCC network.

Figure 1: The following figure highlights the breakdown of how many GHG reports have been submitted by signatory institutions.

The 492 institutions that have submitted at least two GHG reports present the following trends on their GHG emissions.

  • 286 (58%) of the 492 signatory institutions show a reduction totaling 2,898,816 metric tons of CO2e. 
  • 198 (40%) of the 492 signatory institutions show an increase of 1,196,815 metric tons of CO2e. 
  • 8 of the 492 signatory institutions show no change in their emissions.
  • The cumulative emissions reduction from these 492 signatory institutions is 1,702,001 metric tons of CO2e.

Join Second Nature and the ACUPCC at AASHE 2013!

October 1, 2013

Sarah Brylinsky

By Sarah Brylinsky, Director of Climate Resilience & Educational Programs

Join us at the following sessions during AASHE 2013 in Nashville TN, October 6th-9th!  Second Nature will be presenting on topics important to you, including ACUPCC implementation, student leadership, climate resilience, and power-purchasing agreements on campus.  The Second Nature staff would love to meet you if you are attending - be sure to say hello at our sessions and networking events!

Click here to see the AASHE schedule


Climate Resilience Sessions

Roadmap to Resilience: Assessing Tools and Strategies for Climate Preparedness on Campus
Panel Discussion Room #101C, Tuesday, October 8th, 1:30pm ­ 2:30pm
Sarah Brylinsky, Director of Climate Resilience & Educational Programs, Anne Waple, Program Manager, Second Nature

Data Chronicles of October: ACUPCC Reporting by Carnegie Classification

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.
Accessed September 23, 2013].

And the Awards Go To...

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)

2013 Climate Leadership Award Video Competition Winners

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.

Colby College, ACUPCC Signatory, is Carbon Neutral

April 5, 2013
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.

Unity College Participates in Forward On Climate Rally

March 5, 2013

By Sass Linneken, Environmental Writing & Media student at Unity College
(This article appears in the March, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

What a feeling it is to be a student at Unity College, the first college to divest from dirty fossil fuels, and the type of college where over 30 students are joined by their faculty and President (Stephen Mulkey) to walk the talk at the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C. National Academy of Sciences worldwide agree that climate change is happening and that it's a result of human consumption - going to D.C. to oppose the climate-killing Keystone XL tar sands project was probably one of the most memorable experiences I'll ever have as a college student, and as an American citizen. I went to Washington D.C. because I have children and want them to experience a livable world, a world that can only exist with a stable climate. Extraction of tar sands oil emits three times as many greenhouse gases as extraction of conventional crude, this would tip our climate system past the point of no return. I also went because if my college can do its part to try and break the cycle of dirty energy by sustainable financial investments, I can certainly do mine by investing my time into doing what is right for future generations.

Oregon Tech’s Student Led Clean Energy Forum

March 5, 2013

By Greg Stephens, Vice President of Marketing, Tech-Owls in Action (This article appears in the March, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Tech-Owls in Action (TOA) is Oregon Tech’s Renewable Energy Leadership Club, focused on furthering the ‘green energy’ movement through the engineering of clean energy solutions. TOA launched in fall 2012 during the first term at Oregon Tech’s new, consolidated Wilsonville campus. After we delegated member roles we set out to coordinate a Forum-to-Action. Forums-to-Action (F2A)is a program developed by Focus the Nationto guide students, through open dialogue, toward effective energy-based projects best-suited for their talents and communities. TOA extended the F2A opportunity to the Wilsonville community in order to have a more inclusive public forum. This not only allowed us to engage with the local community, but the Tech-Owls would also get to work toward projects that the people of Wilsonville could feel connected to. We named our forum “Clean Energy: Connecting our Community.”


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