ACUPCC Implementer

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.


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

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.

The Future Ain't What it Used to Be

November 5, 2013

“The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be”:

Collaborative Leadership, Higher Education, and Climate Destabilization

Dr. Peter Bardaglio


 By Peter W. Bardaglio, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, Second Nature


Icebergs in Iceland: an endangered species?



“The future ain’t what it used to be,” Yogi Berra once declared.[i] He wasn’t talking about climate change, but he could’ve been. Eight out of the nine hottest years on record worldwide, including last year, have occurred since 2000. The rate of the Arctic summer melt is accelerating at an astonishing pace and the latest reports now predict that we could have ice free summers in the Arctic as early as 2015. Scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii announced this past May that for the first time in human history the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed 400 ppm. The last time carbon dioxide levels were this high was probably in the Pliocene epoch, over three million years ago. To top it off, a paper just published in Nature predicts that by mid-century over half the planet will be experiencing average temperatures equivalent to the hottest days recorded since 1860.[ii]

As bad as this news is, and it’s bad, there is some really good news on the clean energy front.

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].

The Sustainability Imperative at Florida A&M University

May 7, 2013

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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Haywood Community College, Sustainability on the Rise

May 7, 2013

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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Ball State University: The ACUPCC as ‘Feature’ and ‘Framework’

May 7, 2013

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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Highlighting the Role of Students as Key Stakeholders in Campus Sustainability: A Statewide Multi-system Conference Approach

March 5, 2013

By Olivier Sinoncelli, Event Coordinator and LEED Project Intern, UCSB and Katie Maynard, Event Manager, CHESC  (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) presents an exciting model for encouraging and expanding student leadership in statewide and local partnerships.  The event is organized by all four systems of higher  education in California: The University of California, California State University, California Community College, and private colleges. Last year it was attended by over 1,000 people (including 200 speakers) representing almost 90 campuses! This year, it will be hosted once again by the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) was the first institution to host the conference twelve years ago, and both the UCSB Sustainability Program and the conference have grown tremendously since. There are over 30 student organizations at UCSB that relate to environmental stewardship. Additionally, students are active on and off campus teaching at risk youth in the community about energy efficiency and sustainability, helping departments and businesses to be green certified, and working with campus foundations on socially responsible investment policies. CHESC provides these active students with the opportunity to meet head-honchos, to be recognized for their work, and to take an active role  in steering sustainable action in campuses throughout California.  The conference also presents students with many unique opportunities to become active and engaged stakeholders in their respective fields.

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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.”

At United Tribes Technical College Recycling Program Supports Sustainability

February 7, 2013

By Dennis J. Neumann, Public Information Director, United Tribes Technical College
(This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer and was originally published in the December/January 2013 edition of United Tribes News)

ACUPCC ImplementerUnited Tribes Technical College used National Sustainability Day, October 24, to raise awareness and boost participation in the college’s recycling program. For a number of years campus departments have recycled paper and plastic under the leadership of a small but committed group of faculty members. Two years ago, interest in sustainability grew when United Tribes President David M. Gipp signed theAmerican College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The document outlines concerns about global climate change and offers methods for higher education institutions to model ways of minimizing the effects, showing leadership and integrating sustainability on campuses around the country. Institutions that sign-on commit their best efforts to pursue climate neutrality: By developing an institutional plan; initiating action to reduce greenhouse gases; and publicly reporting progress reports to the ACUPCC Reporting System.

Green Committee

Bowie State University’s Partnership With The Toyota Green Initiative: A University’s Path Toward Sustainability

February 7, 2013

By Jacqueline J. Palmer, Facilities Coordinator, Bowie State University
(This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Bowie State University has undertaken several endeavors to go “green” and increase its sustainability through its Climate Control Commitment Committee (C4), not the least of which is its partnership with the Toyota Green Initiative to foster sustainable living and thinking among its students. The Toyota Green Initiative (TGI) is an environmental stewardship platform designed to empower Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students and alumni on the benefits of adopting a sustainable lifestyle. The success of a Bowie State University and TGI partnership is predicated on both entities’ keen focus on a partnership supported by engaged leadership, which in turn will foster enhanced sustainability awareness at Bowie State University.

By its nature a sustainable lifestyle necessitates a change in mindset, thus the acceptance of sustainability practices as routine requires leadership intervention and engagement. Further, the partnership will be foundational for fostering green practices targeting students, faculty and staff at the university. It is within this vein that the launch of the TGI was held during the 2010 Homecoming at Bowie State University, the first stop in a cross-country HBCU tour through a partnership with the CIAA and the BET Black College Tour.

Increased Staff Capacity to Support ACUPCC Implementation at MSIs

February 7, 2013

By Jairo Garcia, Kresge Implementation Fellow, Second Nature
(This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

My name is Jairo Garcia and I am thrilled to be part of the Second Nature team as the ACUPCC Implementation Fellow. My primary responsibilities are to assist and support Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Under-Resourced Institutions (URIs) signatories of the ACUPCC to advance your institution’s commitment to carbon neutrality, implement sustainability practices in curricular initiatives and support your community partnerships. Also joining the Second Nature team is Axum Teferra. Axum is the ACUPCC Membership and Engagement Fellow, and will be sharing responsibilities in providing implementation support. Our positions were made possible by The Kresge Foundation through Second Nature’s “Sustainability Leadership, Capacity Building and Diversity Initiative”.

SEED Center Mentor Connect Project Report

February 7, 2013

By Candy Center, SEED Center Consultant and Todd Cohen, Director of the SEED Center (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

ACUPCC ImplementerThe American Association of Community Colleges’ SEED Center Mentor Connect program pairs best-in-class green colleges with “mentee” colleges in an effort to more swiftly enhance programs that prepare students for careers in clean energy and green fields.


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