Education for Sustainability

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

Targeting Campus Efficiency, EDF expands Climate Corps to the Public Sector

September 7, 2010

By Jill Logeman, Energy Program Coordinator, Environmental Defense Fund

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


If improving building energy efficiency were as simple as flipping a switch, universities could easily cash in on big cost savings and emission reductions. Instead, limited resources, information gaps, and organizational barriers prevent universities from taking advantage of smart energy investments.  Environmental Defense Fund’s new summer fellowship program can help colleges and universities overcome these obstacles.

Climate Corps Public Sector trains talented graduate students from top schools in energy efficiency and places them in public organizations, such as colleges and universities.  Working with facilities management or sustainability staff, each fellow or pair of fellows develops a customized energy plan designed to meet the host’s needs.

Fellows work across host departments to:

Third UNCF Building Green Learning Institute—The Journey to a Green Campus Continues

June 29, 2010

By Van Du, Advancing Green Building Intern, Second Nature

Second Nature’s Advancing Green Building in Higher Educationteam participated this month in the third and final UNCF Building Green Learning Institute. Hosted in San Antonio, Texas, from June 10-12, 2010, the institute once again brought together faculty, staff, and students from colleges and universities across the country to continue the discussion on sustainability efforts in higher education.

As with the previous institutes, this was a great forum for colleges and universities to learn from one another about the different sustainability and building green initiatives that each school is implementing.  In addition to showcasing schools and their ‘greening’ efforts, conversations and remarks at the institute underscored the importance of dedicating time and effort to this journey.  Many schools began by making a commitment to change. For example, Elizabeth City State University just recently became a signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment—the first UNCF Building Green Learning Institute participant school to do so.   However, it was clear that the real challenge for many schools is the transformation from commitment to action.

The New Prosperity Initiative | Community Dialogue Series

June 15, 2010

I recently had the privilege of participating in The New Prosperity Initiative(NPi) Community Dialogue Series. NPi, was founded by Jeanne Dasaro andAlexis Schroeder with the goal to publicize the efforts of individuals and organizations working to build social and economic prosperity. NPi brought together four Boston based non-profits with missions focused on food systems and environmental sustainability.

We heard inspiring stories from:

Matthew Kochka, Farm Manager, “Victory Programs” ReVision Urban Farm, working to increase access to affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate food for shelter residents and community members through community-supported farming.

Gene Benson, Services Program Director, Alternatives for Community and Environment, building the power of communities of color and lower income communities in New England to eradicate environmental racism and classism and achieve environmental justice.

Kimberly Guerra, Lead Teacher with “e” Inc. providing science education with community action in order to improve environmental health in urban communities.

Universities in Peru Work for Sustainable Future

June 1, 2010

by Georges Dyer, Second Nature

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Lima, Peru to participate in an exciting seminar with leaders from universities, government, business, and NGOs on higher education’s opportunity to lead the shift to sustainability. As is the case in most countries around the world, Peru’s energy ministries are working to take control of their energy future.  With the geopolitical issues, volatile prices, supply constraints, security threats, and imminent threat of climate disruption, we need to make fossil fuels yesterday’s energy source.  And quickly.

How to do so is of course another question – particularly when there is a need for continued economic growth and increased standards of living.  (‘developed’ countries like the US don’t need to keep growing the amount of physical through-puts in our economy to improve our quality of life, in fact I think the opposite is true, but there’s still room for such growth in Peru with 20% of the country without access to electricity and 36% living in poverty).

Second Nature Task Force Urges Transportation Policy Overhaul

May 20, 2010

by Don Ryan, Vice President for Policy, Second Nature

Don RyanCollege and university presidents are stepping up to provide leadership on national transportation policy through Second Nature’s 15-member task force, which just released itsrecommendations to Congress and the Obama Administration. At a Congressional Briefing on April 28, three presidents drew on their institutions’ firsthand experience to highlight the task force’s recommendations: Jamillah Moore of Los Angeles City College, George Dennison of the The University of Montana, and Wim Wiewel of Portland State University.

Higher Education Sector is Crucial to Progress

In the past, higher education as a sector has not recognized its stake in national transportation policy. In fact, colleges and universities cannot achieve deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions without major changes in federal policy. At the same time, these institutions are crucial to national progress because they serve as test beds for piloting and evaluating innovative transportation strategies and developing new clean technologies.

These institutions are crucial to national progress. They serve as test beds for piloting and evaluating innovative transportation strategies and developing new clean technologies.

Recommendations to Congress

New England Sustainability Summit 2010

May 4, 2010

by Stephen Muzzy, Program Manager, Second Nature

On April 23, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) hosted their second annual Sustainability Summit: A Climate Change on Campus. I, along with Ashka Naik, Program Manager for Advancing Green Building and Ilana Schonenfeld, Program Associate – Strategic Initiatives traveled to Worcester, MA to hear from campus executives, faculty, and staff on how they are supporting sustainability efforts at their institutions and beyond.

NEBHE put together a chock full program that included keynotes, concurrent and plenary sessions. Our Second Nature contingent divvied up the day – what follows are the highlights of a very exciting event that demonstrates higher educations leadership to provide the knowledge, skills, and critical mass to transform society to a sustainable future.

The Economic Dynamics of Sustainability on Campus

This session offered examples and data on the financial costs in capital improvements and the operational savings incurred with long term planning. Two excellent examples come from the University of Rhode Island and the University of Maine. Robert A. Weygand, Vice President, Administration & Finance shared that the University of Rhode Island in 2050 will have average annual costs of $7.5 million and annual savings of $18.7 million while reducing MTCO2e 50% below 2005 levels. (Full Presentation)

Exeter E-Proctors Value Commitment to Sustainability

April 27, 2010

by Georges Dyer, Second Nature

Yesterday I was up at Phillips Exeter Academy talking to a group of ‘e-proctors’ – sustainability champions in each dorm who help green initiatives run smoothly from ensuring dorm-mates put materials in the proper recycling bin to getting the word out about visiting lectures and campus-wide events.

Most were juniors (“uppers” in Exeter-speak) and seniors with sights set on college – still, it was a bit surprising (and very exciting) to see so many high school kids engaged and enthusiastic about hearing the story of Second Nature and the status of education for sustainability in higher education.

Photo by Dr. James Garner Williams

They had great questions, and some of the seniors made it clear that they questioned their prospective colleges’ commitments to sustainability at every step of the admissions process – a powerful way to send the signal that this critical issue for incoming students (Princeton Review found this was the case for a good two-thirds of applicants and parents in 2009).

Climate Days at Bowdoin College

April 7, 2010

by Georges Dyer, Second Nature

Bowdoin is gearing up for Climate Days – a series of lectures, art installations, and performances that will engage the entire campus community in the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Bowdoin College - Carbon Neutral by 2020

Bowdoin has submitted itsclimate action plan to the ACUPCC and is aiming to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 through a combination of on-site reduction, supporting grid improvements, addressing commuting and investing in renewable energy credits and offsets appropriately.

Any institution addressing climate disruption, and proactively driving innovative solutions, will need input and cooperation across departments and groups, and Bowdoin is certainly taking this approach, as the Climate Days news release explains:

"It's 21st century common sense."

March 26, 2010

by Rima Mulla, Communications Associate, Second Nature

In tandem with the dedication of its Shi Center for Sustainability earlier this month, Furman University hosted a panel discussion entitled “Greening Our World: Sustainable Colleges, Corporations, and Communities.” It was moderated by New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin and, in addition to former New Jersey Governor and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, featured four Second Nature board members:

George Bandy, Jr., Vice President for Sustainability Strategy and Diversity at InterfaceFLOR
David Hales
, President of the College of the Atlantic
Nilda Mesa
, Assistant Vice President for Environmental Stewardship at Columbia University
David Shi
, President of Furman University



The absorbing discussion kicks off with Revkin asking each panelist to definesustainability. Here are some excerpts from their answers:

Second Nature at Thurgood Marshall's Member University Professional Institute

March 22, 2010

by Ashka Naik, Program Manager, Advancing Green Building in Higher Education, Second Nature

Earlier this month, I traveled to Nashville, TN, where I attended the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s (TMCF)Member University Professional Institute, “2010 HBCUs* and Beyond.” Felicia Davis, Director of UNCF‘s Facilities and Infrastructure Enhancement program invited me to join her at this event.

We had a two-fold mission in attending this meeting, one part of which was to make new connections. Public HBCUs (around 50 member schools of TMCF) often remain severely under-represented in Second Nature’s programs; only 9 of these 50 institutions are ACUPCC signatories. Therefore, we wanted to seize the opportunity to engage this group of higher education institutions and share details about our activities. With the help of two enthusiastic attendees, I made the acquaintance of several interesting individuals. Renford Brevett, Director of Title III Programs at Lincoln University, introduced me to more than 20 leaders including presidents, provosts, deans, CFOs, and faculty members. Felicia Davis and I also presented at one of the panels, “Building Green at HBCUs,” during which we discussed the challenges HBCUs face while building green and how Second Nature’s capacity-building programs could help them overcome these barriers.

Fast Company Publishes Fourth in Series of Second Nature Articles

March 16, 2010

by Rima Mulla, Communications Associate, Second Nature

American College & University Presidents' Climate CommitmentThe theme of the recently released American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment 2009 Annual Report carries through in the latest Second Nature article published by Fast Company:Leadership for a Thriving, Sustainable World.

Here’s an excerpt from thearticle by Second Nature President Anthony Corteseand Senior Fellow Georges Dyer:

Fast Company Publishes Third in Series of Articles by Second Nature

March 5, 2010

by Rima Mulla, Communications Associate, Second Nature

Image courtesy of Fast Company

Second Nature President Anthony Cortese and Senior Fellow Georges Dyerdiscuss “The Campus as Living Laboratory” in their latest web article for Fast Company’s Inspired Ethonomics series. They cite examples of institutions already benefiting from having adopted sustainable practices in their operations, and point to resources developed by Second Nature to move the higher education sector in this direction. Two of the resources highlighted were the Case for Investing in Improved Energy Performance on Campus document, developed in conjunction with the Clinton Climate Initiative, and web portal, produced by our Advancing Green Building in Higher Education team, which helps under-resourced and minority-serving institutions build green.

Second Nature Senior Fellow Georges Dyer at Unity College in Maine

February 16, 2010

by Georges Dyer, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Unity College – “America’s Environmental College” – in Unity, ME, where I met with about a hundred of the students in the Environmental Challenge class.

My talk – part of the Lapping Lecture Series – focused on some of the national and international trends we see in Education for Sustainability (EfS) from our perspective here at Second Nature.

I emphasized how there is a strong trend in society toward making a sustainability perspective a prerequisite for competent leadership. I described some of the steps that colleges and universities across the country are taking to ensure that our graduates are equipped with an understanding of sustainability principles so they’re not left at a competitive disadvantage when they enter the global workforce.

I focused quite a bit on the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and the importance of both top-level commitment from the president as well as the need for leadership to emerge from all levels of the organization if institutions are going to be successful in implementing the Commitment, achieving climate neutrality, and providing the education and research needed for the rest of society to do the same.

Fast Company Publishes Series of Articles by Second Nature

February 12, 2010

by Rima Mulla, Communications Associate, Second Nature

Fast Company has published two compelling web articles written by Second Nature President Anthony Cortese and Senior Fellow Georges Dyer:

Higher Education’s Purpose: A Healthy, Just, and Sustainable Society. This excellent introduction to the concept of Education for Sustainability argues that higher education can and must play a transformative role in leading society toward a more sustainable future.

Making a Sustainability Perspective Second Nature in Education. This article cites several examples of higher education institutions tackling sustainability in the curriculum and addressing one of the most important questions of our time:How can we as a global society continue to develop and prosper on such a small planet?

Watch for two more articles from Tony and Georges, all of which are part of aFast Company series entitled Inspired Ethonomics: Actionable Insights for World-Changing People and Businesses.

Second Nature Team and Colleagues Present at NCSE Annual Conference

February 11, 2010

by Michelle Dyer, Chief Operating Officer, Second Nature

On January 21, 2010, I joined a wonderful group of colleagues to present a workshop “A New Generation of Sustainability Leadership: The Role of Higher Education in Building a Green Economy” at  the National Council for Science and the Environment’s  (NCSE) 10th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment in Washington, DC.

Jim Buizer (Policy Advisor to the President; Director for Strategic Institutional Advancement, Arizona State University), Anthony Cortese (President, Second Nature), Paul Rowland (Executive Director, AASHE), Mitch Thomashow (President, Unity College), and I presented about the converging challenges of species extinction, the loss of biodiversity, the gap between rich and poor, a struggling economy, and climate destabilization.

A green economy is a response to this planetary emergency. This calls for a radical reshaping of the role of higher education in preparing a new generation of sustainability leadership. This is much more than providing technical training. It demands a new educational paradigm for integrating life cycle analysis, ecological concepts, ecological economics, and earth systems science into all aspects of higher education.

Maine Presidents Working Together for Sustainability

November 11, 2009

by Georges Dyer, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Last Friday Tony and I had the privilege of heading up to beautiful Freeport, Maine (in a Prius ZipCar, of course!) to meet with a group of college and university presidents who had gathered for a sustainability-themed meeting of the Maine Higher Education Council.

Unfortunately, we were not able to attend the full session, but we did catch a bit of Leith Sharp’s talk on Strategic Leadership for Campus Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, which was terrific. We had a great lunch meeting with Presidents from around the state, discussing how they might work together to tackle the tough problems of climate action planning, incorporating sustainability into the educational experience of students in all disciplines in a meaningful way, and catalyzing a new kind of 21st century sustainable economic development from the higher ed sector.

From left to right: Mitch Thomashow (President, Unity College); Tony Cortese (President, Second Nature); Len Tyler (President, Maine Maritime Academy); Catherine Longley (VP of Finance and Administration, Bowdoin College); Barbara Woodley (President, Kennebec Valley Community College); Joyce Hedlund (President, Eastern Maine Community College); Sharon Kuhrt (President, Central Maine Medical Center); Theo Kalikow (President, University of Maine at Farmington); Donald Zillman (President, University of Maine at Presque Isle); Not pictured: Thom Johnston (President, New England School of Communication); Allyson Hughes Handley (University of Maine at Augusta)


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