ACUPCC Implementer

Minority Serving Institutions Building Green

September 7, 2010

By Felicia Davis, Building Green Program Director, United Negro College Fund

(This article appears in the August, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Institute for Capacity Building has embarked upon an ambitious endeavor to catapult minority-serving colleges and universities into leadership roles in the transition to a sustainable green global economy.  Elevating the critical need for emissions reductions and social, economic and environmental responsibility is central to the mission of higher education institutions.  Energy efficient upgrades, LEED certified building, and interdisciplinary sustainability studies are key elements in campus-wide sustainability efforts.  Minority-serving institutions are in a unique position to make a quantum-leap by embracing and aggressively pursuing carbon-neutral campus infrastructures.  These institutions can turn liabilities, such as older inefficient buildings, into assets by adopting LEED standards for new and existing buildings.  They can lead the way to a sustainable future.

Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) in North Carolina, under the leadership of Chancellor Dr. Willie Gilchrist, is the first institution to sign

Above - Felicia Davis presents ESCU Chancellor Willie Gilchrist award as first ACUPCC signatory since start of Building Green initiative

Achieving Green Schools for Everyone Within This Generation

September 7, 2010

There are more than 3,800 projects participating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building program on campuses across the United States. In fact, colleges and universities have a higher percentage of LEED-certified green space than any other sector, including government, retail and hospitality. While notable, colleges have only just begun to scratch the surface of transforming their aging campuses. Today, there are more than 83,000 college buildings comprising 3.48 billion square feet on campuses across the country. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has a vision to ensure green schools for everyone within this generation and, new this year, USGBC is launching its Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The Center will support sustainability and green building for everyone from the kindergartner entering the classroom for the first time to the Ph.D. student performing research in a lab.

Performance Contracts Deliver Guaranteed Impact

August 4, 2010

By Kent Anson, Vice President of Energy Solutions, Honeywell
(This article appears in the August, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)


Although battery-powered cars and green fuel tend to dominate the headlines, one of the largest targets for meaningful conservation is sitting right in schools’ backyards. Literally.

Across the globe, buildings account for nearly 40 percent of all energy and 70 percent of electricity use. With more than 4,000 campuses in the United States, colleges and universities are well positioned to have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions simply by making their facilities more energy efficient and sustainable.

However, with rising energy costs, tight operating budgets and increasing competitive pressures, finding the resources to implement the necessary changes has been a challenge for administrators.

If there is a choice between a state-of-the-art science lab and making energy-efficient upgrades, for example, the new facility usually wins. Financing tools like energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) give schools the opportunity to do both, which adds to their long-term sustainability.

Under an ESPC, colleges, universities and other institutions are able to finance environmentally conscious building upgrades — from new boilers to solar panels — through the energy and operating savings the improvements produce over a specified timeframe.

The savings are typically guaranteed by an energy services company so the work doesn’t impact budgets or require additional student or taxpayer dollars.

Leveraging the Private Sector to Advance the ACUPCC

August 4, 2010

By Anthony Cortese, President, Second Nature and Andrea Putman, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Second Nature
(This article appears in the August, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)


The ACUPCC represents a courageous and unprecedented form of leadership by higher education to lead society to a climate neutral and environmentally sustainable state in order to meet the individual, social and economic needs of all humans in the present and in the future.  Signatory schools have committed to be a model for climate neutrality and sustainability and ensure that their graduates will have the knowledge and skills to help all of society do the same.

One of the most exciting developments of this focus by higher education institutions has been the cultural shift that is taking place on many campuses.  Presidents and other campus leaders have recognized that achieving these goals requires the focus, involvement and collaboration of all parts of the institution - administrators, faculty, staff, students and trustees – in deep and synergistic ways.  They have told Second Nature and others that the Commitment has accelerated efforts to integrate academic, research, operational and community outreach actions into a holistic approach to sustainability and that it has done more to build a vibrant community and a sense of shared purpose across the institutions than any other initiative in recent memory.  Collectively, the ACUPCC network has become an important learning community and is helping to encourage all of higher education to make this commitment.

Feeding a Culture of Sustainability on Campus

August 4, 2010

By Julie Lawrence, National Events Marketing Manager, Sodexo and Rachel Sylvan, Director, Engagement- Corporate Citizenship, Sodexo 

(This article appears in the August, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Above - International Day of Climate Action 10/24/09 during Campus Sustainability Week 135 Paul Smith’s College students, staff, and faculty participated along with community members from the Adirondacks (includes forestry students in orange hardhats and culinary arts students in chef whites) on the Great Lawn at Paul Smith’s College on the shore of Lower St. Regis. is leading a push to reduce carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million in the atmosphere.

Collaboration is at the heart of any successful sustainability program.  At Paul Smith’s College, a deep commitment to achieving carbon neutrality has led to opportunities for collaboration across the campus.  President John W. Mills was one of the first to sign the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to neutralize carbon emissions and lead the way on teaching students to improve society. Today the importance of sustainability and carbon neutrality is stressed at all levels of the organization.  As a central touch point for all segments of the campus community, campus dining has become a center for promoting the culture change that is driving their success.

The Leadership Factor: Implementing Sustainability in Higher Education

July 6, 2010

By Glenn Cummings, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education

(This article appears in the July, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

“Education is not widely regarded as a problem, although the lack of it is.  The conventional wisdom holds that all education is good, and the more of it one has, the better…. The truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the Earth.” – David Orr (1994)

If, in fact, the survival of the earth hinges on a race between disaster and education, then certainly American higher education holds a key to that outcome. As the Union of Concerned Scientists underscores, few issues signal potential disaster more pointedly than rapidly accumulating carbon emissions (and its multiple impacts).

As colleges and universities throughout the country accept their collective responsibility for educating the next generation in an idea loosely called “sustainability,” the mission of becoming better stewards of the earth has expanded on American college campuses. In recent years, top-level officials at these institutions have called for institution-wide commitments to a more “sustainable” relationship with our natural environment.

Nevertheless, the implementation methods used within institutions remain complicated, strewn with obstacles and weighted with risks. Leadership faces complex political, structural and personal barriers to significant change in the pursuit of sustainability.

Designing & Building the Campuses & Leaders of Tomorrow

July 6, 2010

By Dan Worth, Executive Director, National Association of Environmental Law Societies

(This article appears in the July, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

What would it cost to get an entire campus to run on power from renewable sources? How do you sell expensive sustainability measures to a community still skeptical about global warming? What steps can a campus community take to get a diverse community of students, faculty, administrators, and staff out of their comfortable, convenient cars?

Over the past eight months, close to 100 students, 20 administrators, and 15 professors on 10 campuses across the country worked hard, with support from the National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS), to answer these and other tough sustainability questions.

Institutional Readiness to Implement Climate Solutions

July 6, 2010

by Wendell Brase, Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine and Chair, University of California Climate Solutions Steering Group

(This article appears in the July, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

During the past three years I have served in the roles of both Chief Business Officer (CBO) and ACUPCC Implementation Liaison at the University of California, Irvine.  In this dual role I have recognized certain factors critical for attaining success in implementing climate action plans.  In this first of four articles to be published over the next twelve months, I will describe two basic tools that can determine whether your organization and key stakeholders are adequately prepared to move forward in implementing solutions to the complex problem of attaining institutional climate-neutrality.

The following 10 factors are strong predictors of an organization’s success in addressing any large, complex problem including climate change solutions.  That is, these essential ingredients predict a high-performance organization’s success path:

Using Strategic Intent to Envision, Plan for 2050

July 6, 2010

by Steve Sonka, Interim Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

(This article appears in the July, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

As we undertook to develop an ambitious, yet realistic action plan, theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faced a dilemma common to many universities: how to commit to goals based on predictions of conditions 20, 30 or even 40 years in the future. Further complicating efforts, our proposal dealt with issues involving building efficiency, renewable energy sources, and technologies that haven’t been invented yet, all while bearing in mind public sector budget deficits and the current reality of financial stress across campus. Our careful planning also had to take into consideration the size and diversity of our Big Ten campus, comprising some 41,000 students, 3,000 faculty, and more than 700 buildings. Acknowledging these challenges, the project team of students, staff and faculty working on the climate action plan also had to accept the certainty that new research on environmental issues will surely mean future adaptations to an already complicated plan.

Strategic Intent

RECs and GHG Offsets: A Folly of Choice and a Crisis of Definition

June 3, 2010

by Tim Stumhofer, Program Associate, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute

(This article appears in the June, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

At face value, the question of which environmental commodity to use in support of voluntary climate objectives (e.g., “carbon neutrality”) may read as a simple preference of taste. Tasked with parsing vague marketing claims and often-inaccessible acronym-laden jargon, the average consumer should not be faulted in assuming that choice in these instruments is little more than a matter of “mixing-and-matching” project attributes. Indeed the diversity of project geography, technology, vintage (i.e., year), and ancillary benefits (e.g., local vs. global economic development) on offer can prove alternately dizzying and empowering. While this shopping experience permits consumers the leeway to pair project traits to personal or organizational preferences transcending pure climate goals, the freedom of choice permitted in this open and incompletely defined marketplace does not come without expense.

There are many evaluative steps you should take to make an informed environmental commodity purchase. Yet, in this marketplace it may be very difficult to assess even the most fundamental of these steps: the definition of the very product being sold. By definition, a commodity is an “undifferentiated product,” meaning it should be uniform in quality and quantity in every example. However, in voluntary carbon markets, “environmental commodity” is often used as a blanket term to refer to two very different commodities: greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets (representing emission reductions) and renewable energy certificates (RECs) (which codify renewable energy generation).

Purchasing Green Power: Best Practices and Unique Higher Education Opportunities

June 3, 2010

by Blaine Collison, Program Director, Green Power Partnership, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

(This article appears in the June, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The fundamental economic, environmental and security importance of dramatically increasing the United States’ portion of renewable electricity generation portfolio cannot be overstated.  American colleges and universities have compelling and unique abilities to help drive this series of changes through immediate and concrete action; this is Tangible Action 5 of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

This article will review some of the key issues in voluntary green power purchasing, touch on best practices, and briefly consider the enormous potential impact colleges and universities can have on the development of U.S. renewable energy.

Ninety-six colleges and universities are participating in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership (GPP), a voluntary program that offers technical support, best practices, and communications resources.  The schools are purchasing almost 1.5 billion kWh of green electricity.  All told, the GPP includes more than 1,200 organizations which are collectively buying almost 17 billion kWh of green power annually.

U.S. Voluntary Market Sales

U.S. Voluntary Market Sales

Source: NREL/TP-6A2-46581, September 2009


Power Purchase Agreements: Can I develop renewable energy and keep the carbon too?

June 3, 2010

by Dano Weisbord, Environmental Sustainability Director, Smith College

(This article appears in the June, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Smith College recently installed a 29 kilowatt photo-voltaic (PV) array on our Campus Center. We developed this project using a power purchase agreement (PPA).  The PPA is an increasingly common model for developing renewable energy projects because it requires no up-front capital. Our Campus Center project is great, but given the amount of power we produce, it is more a demonstration than a significant new source of renewable power for campus. I am glad it is small-scale because we learned some critical lessons about PPAs that would lead us to do things differently the next time around. First, we learned that most PPAs include terms that would make it unethical for us to count as “carbon free” the electricity produced.  Second, we learned how we might develop a PPA that would reduce the sacrifices to our carbon emission reduction efforts.

The Case for Reporting and Verifying Your Emissions

May 5, 2010

by Tymon Lodder, Western Regional Director, The Climate Registry

(This article appears in the May, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Reporting your greenhouse gas emissions in a consistent, rigorous and transparent fashion has never been able to yield so many benefits as it does today. With the ability to identify significant cost savings opportunities, meet pending greenhouse gas regulations at both the State and Federal level, and understand your supply chain impacts, taking the added step to publicly report and verify your inventory positions your organization to take a leadership role in a carbon constrained world.  The Climate Registry is a non-profit organization that operates the only North American voluntary GHG registry. Governed by states, provinces, territories and tribes, The Climate Registry helps hundreds of public and private organizations measure, report and reduce their carbon emissions with integrity.  We offer a variety of services and membership options to position our members to meet the challenges ahead.

Currently 18 universities participate in the Registry, including the University of California System and the University of Hawaii at Manoa(Click to read case studies.)

The Country’s Largest Community College District – Representing More Than 260,000 Students – Signs the ACUPCC

May 5, 2010

by Thomas Williams, Sustainability Coordinator, Scottsdale Community College

(This article appears in the May, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

On February 17, 2010 Chancellor Rufus Glasper of the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.  His signature enables Maricopa’s ten colleges and the district office to actively pursue practices that target the Triple Bottom Line: environmental responsibility, social justice and economic feasibility. “My action reflects a strong pledge by Maricopa employees to the goal and responsibilities of the Climate Commitment and sustainability,” he said.

Five of the ten Maricopa County Community Colleges had individually signed on to the ACUPCC by the end of 2007. All of these five have completed their Greenhouse Gas Inventory, and three of them have already submitted their Climate Action Plan.

Maricop County Community College District Joins ACUPCC

Chancellor Glasper signs the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment with the district and individual college leadership

Fun and Financing: A Sustainable Match

May 5, 2010

by Jim Simpson, Director of Higher Education Energy Solutions, Johnson Controls, Inc.
(This article appears in the May, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

When it comes to sustainability on campus, people can get excited about the technology (solar panels and wind turbines) and the visible efforts (new recycling containers or Earth Day events).  What’s just as exciting – but perhaps not as sexy – is that college and university administrators now have several options to choose from when it comes to financing. They’re using savings from behind the walls to fund technology and visibility projects that attract more attention.

For instance, one of the first campuses to sign the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is the University of Maryland - College Park (UMCP). With an energy bill of more than $50 million per year, climbing utility rates, and growing concerns about effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment, UMCP needed a way to combine infrastructure upgrades with energy efficiency and education.

UMCP administrators found millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, and increased electrical and cooling demands exceeded the original design of aging facilities. They were especially concerned about the role of buildings in obtaining accreditation for research facilities and grants. And students had made it clear that sustainability was a priority for them.

Scope 3: Add Your Voice to the Review of Proposed Changes to the GHG Protocol from WRI/WBCSD

May 5, 2010

by Niles Barnes, Projects Coordinator, AASHE

(This article appears in the May, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

As readers of The ACUPCC Implementer know all too well, signatories are required to report on their greenhouse gas emissions within a year of signing the ACUPCC, and then every other year thereafter. After the Climate Action Plan is submitted, the GHG reports alternate with bi-annual progress reports which provide the opportunity to compare actual results to the initial goals laid out. Many campuses find the task of doing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory fairly straightforward, and there are a number of resources available to assist them, including Clean Air – Cool Planet’s Campus Carbon CalculatorThe Climate Registry, and hundreds of other campuses to look to for examples. The process itself typically results in a great final product and a valuable educational experience, particularly when students are involved. Usually, the only area that tends to cause heartburn and anguish is measuring those often elusive Scope 3 emissions sources.

University of Louisville Sources Food Locally – Reaching 24% in 2009

April 5, 2010

by Mitchell H. Payne, Associate Vice President for Business Affairs, University of Louisville

(This article appears in the April, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The University of Louisville has successfully launched several local food related initiatives that have helped the university to achieve two of its strategic goals: increasing sustainable practices on campus and helping faculty, staff and students improve their health. At present, our locally grown and/or produced products equal 24% of our total controlled food related purchases.  We established an initial goal of 15% when our present campus dining services contract was developed in 2008. Our contract was awarded to Sodexo Campus Services, and we have formed a very positive and cooperative partnership that has made local foods (growth, purchase, preparation, sale and education) its mantra.  The results have been an increased customer demand for organic and locally grown foods, sustainable products and eco-friendly business practices.

University of Louisville is Kentucky Proud

Students Advocating for Healthier Food and Farms

April 5, 2010

by Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA®

(This article appears in the April, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

We are what we eat. Human beings are made of food. Yet we rarely stop to appreciate where our food comes from, how it was grown or why we’re putting it into our bodies. And if we do ask those questions, we often find it difficult to figure out how our food choices affect our health, our impact on those who grow our food, our environment and how much we enjoy our daily lives.

But there’s a movement afoot to change all of that. There’s a vision being formed of a world where everyone has healthy food and every farm is a healthy business. Slow Food USA is a non-profit organization working within that movement. We help everyday people connect with each other and use the power of their community to create a healthier local food system.

You can join the movement by becoming a member of Slow Food USA. Our network has more than 150,000 members and supporters across the country, organized into 225 volunteer-led chapters. Together, those chapters are working to transform food and farm policy, industry practices and consumer demand to ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.

This is a big task, obviously. Success is going to take passion, dedication and collaboration on the part of millions of citizens who all believe in change. And many of the citizens leading the way – no surprise – are college students.

Challenges and Options for Food Waste Reduction

April 5, 2010

by Bonny Bentzin, Director – University Sustainability Practices, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University

(This article appears in the April, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

In today’s sustainability conscious world, there has been much discussion about food waste reduction options.  At Arizona State University (ASU), in conjunction with our Carbon Neutrality goal, we have established a goal for Zero Waste (solid waste and water waste).  Our food waste reduction strategy includes harvesting food from our landscaping, diverting food waste through appropriate donations, implementing trayless dining programs, monitoring consumption patterns and tracking orders, and the exploration of composting programs. Some of these options are proving more complex than others.

Harvesting oranges from ASU's Tempe Campus Arboretum

"Harvesting oranges from ASU's Tempe Campus Arboretum". Photo: Vince Palermo, Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU

Getting Ready for Charting Emissions from Food Services (CHEFS)

April 5, 2010

by Jennifer Andrews, Director of Program Planning and Coordination, Clean Air-Cool Planet®

(This article appears in the April, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

You want to reduce the carbon footprint of campus dining—but first you need to have a better understanding of what that impact is, and what is driving it.  What’s worse: the ever-present macaroni and cheese, or the even-more-ubiquitous pizza?  Users of Clean Air-Cool Planet’s Campus Carbon Calculator™ have always known that “you have to measure to manage;” and since it’s potentially expensive, inconvenient, controversial, or even downright impractical to adopt every “green” option you can think of for food purchase, food service and waste management, it’s important to have solid information at hand to help your campus prioritize and make best use of its resources.

From presentation by Leana Houser Pitkevits at AASHE2008

To meet this need, CA-CP is getting ready to release its highly-anticipated new CHEFS tool.  The Charting Emissions from Food Services (CHEFS) calculator is different from the Campus Carbon Calculator™ in that it adopts a life-cycle rather than a strictly entity- level carbon accounting approach—but it is similar in that it aims to provide a standardized, quantitative tool for decision-makers working to find the most effective ways to lower campus carbon emissions.


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