Climate Action

What the Clean Power Plan Means for ACUPCC Signatories: Top 5 Areas of Impact

August 24, 2015

by: Janna Cohen-Rosenthal & Brett Pasinella, Second Nature 

The new White House Clean Power Plan is part of the administration's attempts to address climate change. This plan focuses on the greenhouse gas emissions from power plants around the country. The federal government will set specific reduction targets for each state, it is then up to the state governments to decide how best to meet their individual target. The impact to any individual signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) will have a lot to do with their state's policies and history of existing energy and climate policies. The White House provides  a list of potential impacts for each state, however, some general predictions can be made nationally.

Inside the White House Clean Power Plan

August 7, 2015

by Anne Waple, Vice-President and Chief Innovation Officer, Second Nature

In this blog over the next few weeks, we will break down what the White House’s finalized Clean Power Plan means for us in higher education, and what it means for the country at large.  

While we, at Second Nature, are not politically partisan and do not engage in political advocacy, we are, of course, supporting leadership in and aggressive action on carbon reduction and also recently on climate resilience. The new White House announcement illustrates that nationally too, aggressive action on climate change is warranted and possible. We fervently support this new announcement and the actions that have been taken over the last several years to get here.

We invite you to view the videos that the White House produced around the announcement as well as their infographic that steps through the impacts, the plan, and the recent progress that has been made nationally. We encourage you take a look at this information, and we will follow up with more details on what it might mean for us in the coming weeks.

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.

US National Climate Assessment Released

May 6, 2014

Today, the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) report was released in Washington DC and will be followed by a White House event this afternoon.

The report has been in production for several years and represents the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment ever produced of climate science, impacts (now and in the future), and options for the U.S.  This remarkable effort is the work of 60 members of a Federal Advisory Committee, 240 authors, and hundreds of reviewers – all representing expertise from government, academia, NGOs, and business. The report covers 8 regions of the U.S. as well as sectors such as transportation, energy, water, and many more critical areas of the U.S. economy.  

The full report as well as highlights documents can be found at http://nca2014.globalchange.gov

The report illustrates that climate impacts are being felt across all areas of the U.S. and are increasingly evident in the present. Impacts are expected to increase in the future. Many Americans are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and are considering how to respond. While some progress is being made with respect to reducing the causes of change (mitigation) as well as reducing the vulnerability of society to impacts (adaptation), the NCA indicates that there is much more work to be done - progress so far has been largely incremental. In addition to capturing the potential severity of climate impacts, the report highlights both the need and the opportunity of addressing climate change.

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.

NEW ACCESS + WEBINAR

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.

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: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/30336

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 at the 2013 New England Campus Sustainability Forum

September 13, 2013

On Friday, September 20th, 2013, Second Nature will once again co-sponsor and participate in The New England Campus Sustainability Forum. This year’s theme is “Climate Change & New England Campuses: Impacts and Solutions” and it will take place at Colleges of the Fenway in Boston, MA.

We invite you to join Second Nature and our partners for the following educational opportunities:

Assessing Campus Vulnerabilities to Climate Impacts (Workshop)

This workshop will provide an overview of climate impact assessment resources using the 2013 National Climate Assessment, and discuss components of preparing a campus and community vulnerability assessment.

Panelists include:
• Sarah Brylinsky, Director, Climate Resilience & Education Programs, Second Nature
• Anne Waple, Program Manager for Climate Adaptation, Second Nature
• Jenn Andrews, Acting Executive Director, Clean Air-Cool Planet

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.

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

The University of Maine’s Integrative Graduate Education & Research Traineeship (IGERT) Focused on Adaptation to Abrupt Climate Change

December 4, 2012

By Misa Saros, A2C2 IGERT Program Coordinator, University of Maine

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

The University of Maine has launched a new National Science Foundationsponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) – the first of its kind to focus explicitly on adaptation to abrupt climate change (A2C2).  The A2C2 IGERT is a partnership between theClimate Change Institute (CCI) and the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA) and is focused on the need to adapt environmental policies and management strategies to meet the social and ecological challenges caused by abrupt climate change events.  The program is funded by a five-year, $3 million award from the National Science Foundation, and will support the research of 24 Ph.D. students in Earth sciences, ecology, economics, anthropology and archaeology. Their research will focus on the effects of abrupt climate change on global security, ecosystem sustainability, and the integrity of economic, social, political and ideological systems.

Minority-serving Institution Signatories to the ACUPCC Strengthen Curriculum Component of their Climate Action Plans by Offering AMS Climate Studies

December 4, 2012

By James Brey, Director, AMS Education Program & Elizabeth Mills, Associate Director, AMS Education Program

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

There has never been such a critical need for educating today’s undergraduates on Earth’s changing climate and pathways to sustainability.  The footprints of climate change surround us – Arctic sea ice reached its record lowest extent in August 2012, the 10 warmest years in the global climate record have occurred since 1997, and global sea level continues to rise (1). Climate change is also predicted to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, which combined with sea-level rise, may lead to more natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy (123).

It is imperative to develop a scientific workforce ready to tackle the challenge of climate change in light of the new energy economy and various societal and political factors. The National Science Foundation (NSF) underscores the need for increasing public literacy in the Earth System Sciences, including climate science literacy, and preparing a highly skilled scientific workforce reflecting the nation’s diversity (45).

Revolving Loan Fund at Lane Community College

November 6, 2012

By Jennifer Hayward, Sustainability Coordinator & Anna Scott, Energy Analyst, Lane Community College

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

Lane Community College established a revolving loan fund in 2006, the only one of its kind at a community college, to pay for energy conservation and renewable energy projects through utility carryover. The fund, called theEnergy Carryover Fund, realizes savings when current year electricity and natural gas expenditures are less than current year budget. Additionally, rebates and other incentives for energy-focused projects can be deposited into the Fund, helping to finance more projects in the future. The Fund is managed and implemented by Lane’s full time Energy Analyst, Anna Scott, and currently stands at $122,000.

Annual budgets for electricity and natural gas are determined using an energy use index calculation for the baseline year of 2004-05 and the current year’s prices.  Money is transferred to the Carryover Fund if Lane is purchasing less energy per square foot because of efficiency, conservation, and on-site renewables than in the baseline year.

Lane’s Energy Analyst plans the Fund’s projects in collaboration with faculty and students in its Energy Management and

Lane’s Solar Station provides electricity for charging vehicles and power for nearby buildings.

Renewable Possibilities at the University of Vermont

November 6, 2012

By Mieko A. Ozeki, Sustainability Projects Coordinator, University of Vermont

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

How significant a role can campus-based renewable energy play in the University of Vermont’s (UVM) progress towards carbon neutrality?

Back in 2011 this question spurred the University of Vermont’s Clean Energy Fund to award up to $100,000 toward a Comprehensive Campus Renewable Energy Feasibility Study (CCREFS). The intent of the study was to generate scenarios to aid in renewable energy planning at UVM by getting a broad view of the potential for these technologies on-campus. The outcome of this study will also help to inform meeting UVM’s Climate Action Plan first target of becoming carbon neutral with our purchased electricity by 2015.

The funding for the CCREFS project was primarily sourced from UVM’s Clean Energy Fund (CEF), a student green fund approved in 2008 by UVM’s Board of Trustees. The CEF is sustained by a self-imposed student fee of $10 per student per semester and generates an estimated $225,000 per year. The fund was created in response to students’ desire to have UVM advance renewable energy research, education, and infrastructure on campus. To date, the CEF has awarded funding to twenty projects including the development of an internship program, CEF graduate fellowship, and lecture/workshop series.

Building Georgia Tech’s Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory

November 6, 2012

By Howard Wertheimer, Director, Capital Planning & Space Management, Georgia Institute of Technology

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

Georgia Tech is committed to the development of a sustainable campus community, creating distinctive architecture and open spaces. In keeping with this goal, Georgia Tech has a clear mission for its new Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory Building: carbon neutral net zero site energy use. The 40,000 square foot facility is intended to set a new standard for sustainable design for laboratory buildings of this type by optimizing passive energy technologies, reducing electricity loads, thoughtful day-lighting strategies, water conservation and harvesting, and maximizing the use of renewable energy, including a 290kW photovoltaic array.

Rendition of GT’s Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory

Involving Students in Climate Action Planning Prepares them for Life after College

October 3, 2012

By Anne Bertucio, Business & Community Relations Coordinator, Focus the Nation

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

Student involvement, ideas, and innovation have been and continue to be a driving force behind sustainability successes on college and university campuses.  In 2008, Focus the Nation (FTN) launched a national teach-in campaign to empower students through education, civic engagement, and action to advance a clean energy future. In turn, the ACUPCC has provided a terrific opportunity for students through their FTN training to play an integral role in the development and implementation of their campus’ Climate Action Plan’s.

Currently FTN offers the Forums-to-Action (F2A) program providing students withleadership skills, energy literacy, experiential learning and professional development. The F2A program benefits both the student and campus as it provides a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration, academic engagement with industry experts and elected officials, and an opportunity to apply existing campus resources to urgent sustainability issues in the community, to name a few. F2A participants at the University of Utah and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville have already made an impact. Their efforts show how valuable student leadership in implementing the climate action plan can be to the institution’s carbon footprint, and the capacity of students to prepare for a changing economy by shaping their institution’s climate and sustainability initiatives.

Tracking Solid Waste at Delta College

September 5, 2012

By Linda Petee, Sustainability & Risk Management Coordinator, Delta College

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

Scope 3 emissions can escalate a carbon footprint significantly if not monitored and tracked diligently.  To provide a comprehensive analysis, Delta College chose to report additional Scope 3 categories, including solid waste, right from the start.

Recycling was introduced in 1991 and our program quickly earned recognition as a statewide best practice in 1995.  Early on, area waste haulers were not equipped to collect recyclables and sorting facilities were limited.  Our fledgling program partnered with a local rehabilitation center for sorting and bundling. Later, as residential programs took hold, we piggybacked on municipal collections. Eventually, local material recovery centers were established. Having an established program has allowed us to refine our processes and provide guidelines to aid collection.

Crisis and Opportunity in the Environmental Century

August 31, 2012

This piece by Unity College President Stephen Mulkey originally appeared on Climate Access and is reposted with permission from that site.

Crisis and opportunity in the Environmental Century: Inspiring a generation to greatness
By: Unity College President, Stephen Mulkey

As an ecologist, I know that we have precious little time to prepare a generation to respond to the ecological crisis of our planet in peril. As the president of Unity College, I am alarmed by how little progress has been made in focusing higher learning on what is undoubtedly the most important challenge facing humankind. Given the overwhelming scientific evidence of imminent climate disruption, failure to make climate literacy a requisite part of any undergraduate curriculum is inexcusable.

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