American Meteorological Society and Second Nature Partner to Strengthen Climate and Sustainability-Focused Curricula at Minority-Serving Institutions

February 7, 2012

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 National Science Foundation (NSF) GeoVision reportunderscores 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 betweenAmerican 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.

Minority-Serving Institutions Championing the ACUPCC

February 7, 2012

By Ashka Naik, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Development, Second Nature

(This article appears in the February, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

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

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.

The Future of the ACUPCC and the 2012 Summit

February 7, 2012

By Mitchell Thomashow, President Emeritus, Unity College and Second Nature Presidential Fellow

Five years ago a small group of visionary college and university presidents gathered to initiate the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). They were motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to make a significant commitment to climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society.

As we prepare for the 5th Anniversary ACUPCC summit, it’s important to celebrate our accomplishments, especially at a time when higher education’s public image could benefit from some good news. In just five years, 675  colleges and universities have signed the ACUPCC, representing 35% of the national student body. We’ve seen hundreds of institutions implement remarkably innovative sustainability initiatives. We’ve seen the sprouting of hundreds of new sustainability related academic programs, in every conceivable subject, at every educational level.

Yet higher education is also in a crisis. Challenges of accountability, affordability, workforce preparation, and relevance are sweeping the sector. The volatile global economy remains unpredictable, with ramifications impacting every campus. Meanwhile despite our best efforts, the climate issue becomes more daunting daily.

This is an important challenge for the ACUPCC. What should our priorities be over the next five years. How can we build on our accomplishments, broaden our constituencies, and sharpen our impact?

Sustainability Initiatives at the Tribal Colleges

February 7, 2012

By Al Kuslikis, STEM Associate, American Indian Higher Education Consortium and Beau Mitchell, Sustainability Coordinator, College of Menominee Nation
(This article appears in the February, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and its Tribal College and University (TCU) membership are actively engaged in promoting sustainability both on their campuses and within the communities they serve.  TCUs are ideally situated to play a leadership role in developing and promoting sustainable practices within their respective communities and nationally.  There are no higher education institutions more closely engaged with addressing the economic development, public health, workforce development, and research needs of their communities.  As tribal institutions, they are particularly well-positioned to draw on and reinforce the traditional practices that have sustained their people for countless generations before European contact, and which can inform our collective efforts to respond to the sustainability challenges of today.

Navajo Technical College students demonstrating a wind turbine they designed for homes

Energy Conservation at Alamo Colleges

February 7, 2012

By John W. Strybos, Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities at Alamo Colleges

(This article appears in the February, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

In August 2008, the Chancellor of the Alamo Colleges Bruce H. Leslie Ph.D. signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, as an effort to promote and transform the colleges into a climate neutral organization.  Each of the five campus Presidents has embraced the Chancellor’s commitment and begun integrating sustainability processes into the academic curriculum.  In addition to promoting educational processes that impact the environment, the Colleges have invested in numerous capital improvement projects that focus on energy efficiency, energy reduction, and sustainability.

As each campus grows, additional and alternative energy programs for power generation sources are being installed.  For example, St. Philip’s College (SPC) Southwest Campus (SWC) and Palo Alto College (PAC) each have a 1kW wind turbine generator in operation. Instructors are using these devices in their course curricula.  To educate and train students in green jobs, Alamo Colleges created the Center for Excellence at the St Philip’s College Southwest Campus location with a 400kW solar panel constructed on the roof of the main facility.  This solar panel array, shown in Figures 1 and 2, is used to provide power to the facility and instruct students.  Additional test facilities have been added such as simulated roof tops that are placed low to the ground for safety during instructional periods.

Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative – January 2012

February 2, 2012

By Peter Bardaglio, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Welcome to the January 2012 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Ithaca Companies to Pioneer Deep Home Energy Savings

Two TCCPI members, Taitem Engineering and Snug Planet, have been awarded a $300,000 contract by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The Ithaca-based companies will seek to examine and test technologies to dramatically improve the energy performance of existing homes.

Uninsulated walls through a thermal imaging camera. Photo credit: Snug Planet.

The contract is based on the “deep energy retrofit” approach.  Deep energy retrofits involve adding a layer of rigid insulation or spray foam to a home’s exterior walls to reduce air leakage and heat loss. Attics and basements are also sealed and insulated to levels well above building code. New windows may be installed, and heating, ventilation, and hot water systems may be upgraded.

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A Statewide Conference Focuses on Advancing the Use of Local Foods on Campuses

January 31, 2012

By Toni Nelson, ACUPCC Program Director, Second Nature

On January 20, 2012, the University of Louisville hosted the Farm to Campus Conference: Exploring the farm-to-food service connection, along with Louisville Farm to Table and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

The University of Louisville’s efforts to bring locally sourced food to campus have been featured in both The ACUPCC Implementer newsletter and in last year’s webinar presented with their food service provider Sodexo: “Farm to Campus: The Successes and Challenges of Sourcing Local and Sustainable Food.” Mitchell Payne, Associate Vice President Business Affairs, spearheaded these activities and was instrumental in organizing the Farm to Campus Conference and obtaining a grant to fund it, so that not only was registration for the approximately 100 attendees free, but we were also treated to a locally sourced luncheon with speaker Mary Berry Smith, Executive Director of The Berry Center and daughter of Kentucky writer and activist Wendell Berry.

Taking Time to Reflect

January 25, 2012

By Anthony Cortese, President, Second Nature

The last few months of 2011 were full of important sustainability news and events relevant to Second Nature’s work and the ACUPCC.

Dr. Mary Fifield, President, Bunker Hill Community College

The ACUPCC Regional Collaborative Symposium, hosted by Bunker Hill Community College in November, was a big hit with very positive feedback from the evaluations from the participants.  One of the highlights was a panel of presidents including Paul Ferguson (University of Maine System), Mary Fifield (Bunker Hill Community College), Gloria Larson (Bentley College) and Jonathan Lash (Hampshire College). A summary of the symposium by Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate at Second Nature can be found here.

Furthermore, Second Nature released a white paper on the role of higher education in addressing adaptation, or ‘climate preparedness’ to unavoidable climate disruption which will occur because of our inability to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the last 20 years.  It was developed under the guidance of Professor Jim Buizer (University of Arizona, IPCC member and Second Nature Board Member) with some of the best adaptation experts in the country.

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:

New Features on the ACUPCC Website

January 6, 2012

Happy New Year! We’re thrilled to kick off 2012 with the newly redesignedResources & Support section of the ACUPCC website. Watch the video below for a quick tour, then visit the website to browse the resources in a new, user-friendly way.

ACUPCC resources are always free for signatories of the commitment.

Send your feedback, suggestions, and comments to

EPA Green Power Leadership Awards Recognize ACUPCC Signatories

December 8, 2011

The EPA Green Power Partnership recognized the following ACUPCC signatory institutions with 2011 Green Power Leadership Awards:

Allegheny College
Franklin & Marshall College
Mercyhurst College
Santa Clara University
University of Central Oklahoma

Five of the ten Green Power Purchasing awards went to colleges and universities – all of which are part of the ACUPCC network.

Learn more about these institutions’ efforts to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions, and integrate climate and sustainability into their education, research, and community engagement efforts by looking them up in the ACUPCC Reporting System.

Read more about Allegheny’s recognition here.

Read more about Mercyhurst’s recognition here.

Read more about Franklin & Marshall’s recognition here.

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NRDC: Higher Education Paves a Way Forward on Climate Change

December 7, 2011

Reposted from Switchboard: The National Resource Defense Council Staff Blog.
By Kelly Henderson, Climate Center Program Assistant, NRDC

These days, it’s tough to be an environmentalist on the national level. The current “Right-heavy” House pays little to no attention to the health impacts related to air pollution and is too focused on tying EPA’s hands when it comes to regulating toxics and other air pollutants from prominent sources such as power plants. Those Representatives mindlessly claim that supporting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would kill jobs and cause further harm to an already weakened economy – parroting unproven rhetoric. If you do much of any related reading, you’d know they’re wrong. As a youth advocate for living sustainably and helping to curb the effects of climate change, it can be an especially frustrating and challenging situation as you may feel your voice is not being heard on the Hill. Many students and members of the millennial generation are facing this challenge every day.

Crafting a Water Sustainability Plan at the George Washington University

December 7, 2011

By Sophie Waskow, Sustainability Project Facilitator and Meghan Chapple-Brown, Director, The George Washington University Office of Sustainability

(This article appears in the December, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Like many ACUPCC signatories, GW has committed to carbon neutrality and has created a climate action plan outlining carbon reduction strategies. But climate is not the only risk universities must manage and mitigate. By 2030, demand for water globally is projected to exceed supply by 40 percent. Climate change has a number of implications on the water cycle, creating disruptions in water supply worldwide.

Higher-education institutions have the unique opportunity to not only integrate sustainability into their operational practices, but also into their academic and curricular programs. GW has committed to writing three strategies to reduce our resource system impacts: aclimate action plana water action plan and an ecosystem enhancement plan. While these three issues are cross-cutting and interconnected, GW chose to set strategies focused on each resource impact area individually to set discrete targets, goals and indicators for reduction and enhancement.

The U.S. National Climate Assessment

December 7, 2011

By Jim Buizer, Deputy Director for Climate Adaptation and International Development, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona and Member, Executive Secretariat, NCADAC
(This article appears in the December, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Adapting to the impacts of climate changes already underway, and projected to continue to increase over this century, is critical to ensuring that our nation's social and economic sectors can be resilient to these impacts. In recognition of the significance of climate change to the long-term wellbeing of the United States, the Federal Government is currently conducting the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA).  The NCA is Congressionally mandated under the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and is to be undertaken approximately every 4 years.  Administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and with support from the 18-Agency U.S. Global Change Research Program, the NCA is based on both peer-reviewed, scientifically produced knowledge and verifiable experiential knowledge coming from outside the research community.  Due at the end of 2013, the report will be a snapshot of what is known about climate change science and impacts.  It will shed light on options for adaptation to impacts of climate change; it will also recognize and communicate mitigation activities underway across the nation in order to prevent even greater climatic changes.

An NCA Office in Washington, D.C. coordinates the activities, and manages the advice and input of a Development and Advisory Committee (NCADAC), consisting of 60 experts appointed and chartered by the Secretary of Commerce, and drawn from academia, federal and state governments, industry and non-governmental associations.  In addition to the NCADAC, the Office will rely heavily on input from across the country.

ACUPCC Committee Publishes Report on Preparing for and Responding to Climate Change

December 7, 2011

By David A. Caruso, President, Antioch University New England and Member, Higher Education Climate Adaption Committee and Abigail Abrash Walton, Assistant to the President for Sustainability and Social Justice, Antioch University New England

(This article appears in the December, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

As we sat down to write this article, we reflected on the climate change indicators we have witnessed right here in Keene, NH, where Antioch University New England (AUNE) is located.  The most noticeable of these is increased intensity and frequency of storm events.  Indeed, of the 15 largest flood events recorded in New Hampshire since 1934, eight have occurred in just the last five years.  These changes pose compelling challenges for our campus and surrounding communities and have motivated our faculty, students, staff, and community partners to begin to prepare for the risks of climate disruption and to pioneer new models of resiliency.

The University of Arizona Provides Local Climate Adaptation Assessment & Planning Support

December 7, 2011

By Joe Abraham, Director, University of Arizona Office of Sustainability and Leslie Ethen, Director, City of Tucson Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development

(This article appears in the December, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The World Meteorological Organization recently reported global atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) levels rose to new record levels in 2010, with the rate of increase on the rise. The steep upward trend in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations is due in large part to a lack of coherent and committed national and international institutions and policy addressing major emissions sources including fossil fuels, deforestation, and certain land use practices.

To counter this trend, many local and regional governments in the U.S. have begun implementing plans to reduce GHG emissions. Nevertheless, even if we could magically stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at year 2000 levels, the earth would be committed to some temperature increases, due to the long residence time of GHGs in the atmosphere. Consequently, some local and state governments are taking active measures to plan and prepare for inevitable changes, and to make the most of possible opportunities presented by climate change, by identifying options to adapt to projected climate impacts and to increase the resilience of environmental and social systems.

UA students participate in the design and installation of passive water harvesting features into the UA campus landscape

AMS Climate Studies Course To Reach 100 More Minority-Serving Institutions

November 30, 2011

American Meteorological SocietySecond Nature is partnering in the coming months with the American Meteorological Society (AMS) on a 4-year project to promote the importance of basic climate science education at all colleges and universities, particularly those that are minority-serving and signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

This national network involves more than 670 colleges and universities who are committed to eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations by promoting the education and research needed for the rest of society to do the same,” explains Jim Brey, director of the AMS Education Program. “AMS and Second Nature will work together to demonstrate to current and potential MSI signatories how AMS Climate Studies introduces or enhances sustainability-focused curricula.”

The partnership will result in the implementation of the AMS Climate Studies course at 100 minority-serving institutions in the US at no cost to the institutions.

Read AMS’s blog post about the partnership and Climate Studies course, and Second Nature’s news release.

For more information about the AMS Climate Studies course, FREE licensing, and faculty workshops, contact:

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2011 ACUPCC Northeast Regional Collaborative Symposium Summary

November 28, 2011

By Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate, Second Nature

(Download the symposium agenda, or a PDF version of this summary here.)

The first American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment(ACUPCC) Regional Collaborative Symposium – the 2012 Northeast Regional Symposium – took place at Bunker Hill Community College November 3-4, 2011. The Regional Symposiums focus on fostering collaboration among ACUPCC signatories facing similar challenges and opportunities in their geographic regions. This inaugural conference garnered participation from 36 universities in 19 states throughout the Northeast, achieving cross-institutional dialogue, knowledge exchange, and solutions to climate action planning, curriculum reform, and other key issues.

Heartland Community College hosts 6th Annual Sustainable Universities and Colleges Symposium

November 21, 2011

Governor Quinn’s GGCC Sustainable Universities and Colleges SymposiumBy Adrienne LaBranche Tucker, Ph.D., Associate Director of The Green Institute @ Heartland Community College

On October 28thHeartland Community College in Normal, IL hosted the 6thannual Governor Quinn’s Green Government Coordinating Council Sustainable Universities and Colleges Symposium. Around 350 attendees from all across Illinois joined in a day of higher education sustainability best practice sharing.  The day’s activities started with presentations from Heartland Community College’s President, Dr. Alan Goben, the Town of Normal Mayor, Chris Koos, the Executive Director of the Illinois Green Economy Network, Julie Elzanati, and of course Governor Pat Quinn.

Speakers, workshops, and panel discussions covered topics such as sustainable renovation and construction, energy efficiency, renewable energy, conservation, environmental education and service learning, water and waste reduction, student engagement in greening the campus, applications of benchmarking and reporting tools like the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact, STARS, ACUPCC and more.


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