Second Nature Team

"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.

My Second Nature Experience

February 25, 2010

Gaby Rigaud recounts her experience as she wraps up a year of interning with Second Nature’s Advancing Green Building in Higher Education program. We’ll miss you, Gaby!

by Gaby Rigaud, Advancing Green Building Intern, Second Nature

Gaby Rigaud, Second Nature InternWe all have moments in our lives when we’re forced to adjust and make difficult decisions that we hope will change our lives for the best. One such moment for me came at the end of 2008. At that point, I had spent nearly four years working as a civil engineer at a Fortune 500 consulting firm in Boston, and I found myself at an impasse. Lacking both variety and a sense of purpose in my daily activities, feeling unsupported, I began to be unfulfilled in my professional life. My initial remedy was to go to graduate school to broaden my knowledge; I quickly found, though, that this would not be sufficient. I reevaluated the situation, asking myself the usual questions: “Where do I see myself in 5-10 years?” and “What am I passionate about?” This exercise resulted in a decision that most people who know and are close to me saw as irrational. My future was presented to me in a new light, and putting up new condo buildings and underground parking garages for the next 40 years was not part of it.

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.

ACUPCC Highlighted at E2's "And A Child Shall Lead Us"

February 9, 2010

by Ilana Schoenfeld, Program Associate, Second Nature

Last week, Steve Muzzy and I attended an event hosted by E2/NRDC called “And A Child Shall Lead Us: How Students and Universities Are Leading on Climate Change.”

E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national community of business leaders and professionals committed to protecting the environment in ways that build economic prosperity. NRDC’s policy and science experts work in partnership with E2 to identify critical environmental issues, key players, and strategic actions. Members of E2 are called upon to work with public officials to influence state and national policy—leveraging their business expertise to highlight the economic benefits of environmental policies.

We were thrilled to hear the work of the ACUPCC highlighted at this event. The speakers at the event included:

Second Nature Staff Attend Rally for Clean Electricity

December 15, 2009

By Dan Abrams, Second Nature Intern

Alyssa and I are members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SFJSF). Our group is putting on the Leadership Campaign, which calls on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his legislature to introduce and pass a bill that will re-power the state of Massachusetts with 100% clean electricity by 2020.

We have been sleeping out nearly every night since October 24th to put pressure on the Governor and to demonstrate how serious we are.  During this time, we've had a few celebrity sleep-out appearances on the Boston Common!

In order of appearance:

1. Dr. James Hansen, acting as private citizen but director of the Goddard Institute at NASA, premiere climate scientist.

James Hansen receives his citation

2. Michelle Dyer, VP of Strategy and Operations at Second Nature.

3. Georges Dyer, Senior Fellow at Second Nature.

4. Ulli Klein, Operations Manager, Executive Assistant, and self-proclaimed Second Nature Intern Dictator.

Second Nature's Michelle Dyer, Georges Dyer, and Ulli Klein visit interns Dan Abrams and Alyssa Pandolfi on the Common

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Home for the Holidays... In a LEED certified Gingerbread House?

December 15, 2009

by Alyssa Pandolfi, Second Nature Intern

Every year, Northeastern University puts on an annual Gingerbread House competition.  Out of the 100 or so students who enter the competition, only thirty get chosen to take part in the opportunity of a lifetime... build the Gingerbread House of their dreams.

After the houses are built, students, faculty, and staff from Northeastern are allowed to vote to determine the crowd favorite.  The winner, besides winning a modest cash sum, will revel in eternal glory.

This year, Jess (a Second Nature co-op alum) and I were one of the lucky few who were chosen to build a Gingerbread House.  In our typical fashion, we decided to give our Gingerbread House a theme:  Sustainability.  Our house, which can be viewed in the image below, has an organic garden, vermicompost bin, wind turbine, fish pond, patio constructed with FSC certified wood, recycling bin, green roof, solar panels, and, oh did I mention the LEED certification button?


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Second Nature interns Dan and Alyssa featured in Globe article on climate change legislation

October 26, 2009

Student-run group camps out for climate change legislation - The Boston Globe

"The group plans to walk into State House this morning and ask to address the Legislature, said Boston Media Coordinator Dan Abrams. They want to urge lawmakers to pass legislation requiring that Massachusetts be powered exclusively by clean energy by 2020."

Full article here.

Northeastern University student Alyssa Pandolfi crawled out of her tent on Boston Common yesterday. (Bill Greene/ Globe Staff)


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Water Wars

October 23, 2009

by Alyssa Pandolfi, Second Nature Intern

I've come to realize that this No Impact stuff is a lot harder than I anticipated.  Consumption proved to be pretty easy once I curbed my shopping habits.  Taking the T everyday and walking to when possible were things that I already do.  I buy organic, local food and I eat vegetarian, so that takes care of food.  Outside of work, I spend countless "volunteer" hours working with my student group (Husky Energy Action Team - HEAT) to move towards our ultimate goal of climate neutrality for Northeastern University.  However, when it came to yesterday's electricity challenge and today's water challenge, I am finding it a bit harder to lessen my impact.  To start, writing this blog entry is requiring electricity.  In order for our organization to function, we need to use electricity.  To do work for my student group I NEED electricity.  For Colin Beavan to publicize, promote, and further the significance of No Impact Week, he needed to use electricity.  To me, it is important to conserve electricity whenever possible, but renewable energies are the things that we need the most.

This is an image from the movie Blue Gold:  Water Wars of an ocean in Europe that is almost completely dried up.

No Impact Week: A few impressions

October 23, 2009

by Ulli Klein, Operations Manager and Executive Assistant, Second Nature

At Second Nature we are very proud to employ Northeastern Co-op students. Now, I always like to say that I am extremely grateful for their presence, as they do the things that I don't want to do.

Come to find out. They are also way bold!

Yesterday, after some fairly intense preparation, our fantastic interns participated in a Flashmob as part of Massachusetts Powershift.

Now, it takes some guts to run out of a T-station with 60 other people and start dancing. Yours truly here would not be so brave.

Here we have one of our inters, Mr. Abrams, in action. He was wearing a Crimson shirt, which is a little bit of a misinterpretation, but frankly, in Boston we can pick and choose who we affiliate with.

And here we have someone else we know getting ready to get her dance on:

Of course, the entire team was all over watching this:

Alyssa getting her moves on. Personally, I know at least one song that they should have used and didn't, but let's not go there:

This one here - not dancing:

AAAAND they are done!

Amy's No Impact Week

October 22, 2009

by Amy Hattan, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Second Nature

My participation in No Impact Week is a bit of a flip flop…I’m using the week to examine if my regular lifestyle fits within the concept of having “no impact”, rather than changing my habits for just one week.

For example, on the topic of food, I attended a screening of the documentary Food, Inc. this week, which was followed by a good discussion between the crowd and Gary Hirshberg of Stoneyfield Yogurt. Afterwards, I checked to see what I have in my fridge. I was glad to see that most of the foods I eat are natural or organic, low in corn syrup (corn is incidentally in almost every food you get in the supermarket), and low in antibiotics and hopefully E-Coli and all that other awful stuff that is in most factory-farmed meat. It also appears that I am keeping Stoneyfield Yogurt in business (again, see photo). The most memorable moments for me when watching Food, Inc. were seeing dead chickens lying among the live chickens in the chicken coops and cows covered from head to foot in their own feces. And we eat this! I learned that because we feed cows cheap corn and not grass, which is what they are supposed to eat, they get these diseases that get passed to us.  I could do better and not eat out so much, because who knows where the food originates from that is served in a restaurant.

Farmers' Market Adventures

October 21, 2009
by Alyssa Pandolfi, Second Nature Intern
Today, Colin, Rima, and I went out to the Farmers' Market in Government Center to get local, fresh, and absolutely delicious food.  In addition to standard fruits and vegetables, some of the vendors at the Farmers' Market sell jellies, jams, honey, meat, flowers, and baked goods.  Throughout the harvesting season, I've been to the Farmers' Market almost every week to stock up on fresh food.  I don't know if I'm biased towards local food, but I swear, it tastes better than store bought food.  It is always fresh and so colorful!  Another bonus--because it hasn't been sitting in a refrigerated truck for 24+ hours to get shipped--food from the farmers' market almost always lasts longer than store-bought food.  Unfortunately, the market will be closing in late November and won't re-open again until late spring.  I wonder how my roommates would feel about starting a compost bin in our kitchen and a hydroponics operation in the bathtub...

Colin exchanges his SN paycheck for some delicious cranberry walnut bread!

Fresh, local food = Happiness

Brazilian eggplant? Look out Tony, it looks like Team Germany is recruiting some allies in the battle against Italians...

Barbara's No Impact Week

October 21, 2009

by Barbara Koneval, Program Associate for Education & Training, Second Nature

No impact week started on an unfortunate day, the day  I flew back from California from Bioneers and a mini-vacation.  After being inspired by the Bioneers conference, my sister and I drove to Yosemite for some inspiration from nature.

A big part of personal sustainability for me is making sure to reconnect to these areas, disconnect from my computer and get outside.  The park was amazing and in addition to the physical rewards of hiking in Yosemite, the visual rewards were immense. Here are a couple of snapshots:

So I’m back in Portland and more in control of my choices for the rest of the week.  And Wednesday is food day, yay!  Lunch today was  “The Democratic Republic of Peanut Chicken” soup made by my friend Jed who runs a soup delivery business, by bike.  Soup Cycle was started in Portland as part of the growing bike delivery business, sourcing organic ingredients delivered only by human power.  I get a weekly drop off of soup and luckily, Jed was delivering Monday night just as I got home from the airport. Score. As much as I like to grocery shop, after flight delays and plane travel I was not in a cooking mood.

Michelle’s No-Impact Blogging – Sun to Wed

October 21, 2009

by Michelle Dyer, Chief Operating Officer, Second Nature

Sunday was Consumption day.  Our challenge: to live a fuller and happier life by buying less stuff.  This one was fairly easy for me because I generally don't buy that much stuff anyway (between me and my eco-frugalisto husband we keep our total purchasing in check fairly well.)  Anything I do purchase I always try for the item least impact, even if it means spending more.  I admit that I did buy a ticket to the Ringlng Bros. Over the Top show that day, so I didn't go completely cold turkey.  As an experience it didn't involve any physical stuff purchased on my part, though the sets, souvenirs, food for sale, etc. made it a mecca of consumption.  As an amateur trapeze artist, I like to support the circus arts, and found it to be sufficient inspiration to keep me swinging through the long Massachusetts winter, so the $15 was worth the investment.

Another day, another bag of licorice

October 21, 2009

by Ulli Klein, Operations Manager and Executive Assistant, Second Nature


Another day, another bag of delicious German licorice scolding by certain VP of our nonprofit after she tasted one of these heavenly creations... reminding me that something that was imported from Germany to a store in California, then sent to me by German friend in CA, is not appropriate to eat on a day like today.

FAIL on that front. Licorice has been safely secured out of mind sight.

Transportation yesterday wasn't as big of a challenge until I went out at night and totally blew it, because I helped someone move some furniture around, which required transportation. I am usually so GOOD, since I don't own a car and use almost exclusively public transportation.

Today...well...local food. I stocked up at the farmer's market, I continue collecting trash, trying to reduce the water I use, reusing things at home ect.

Just about that licorice....

Food Frenzy

October 20, 2009

by Alyssa Pandolfi, Second Nature Intern

Today's challenge is transportation, but it hasn't been too difficult for me.  I've been walking to work as much as possible and taking the T at all other opportunities **Note:  low carbon transportation works great when you don't have a car :)

I am a little nervous for the food activities tomorrow.  I recently gave up veganism because I found that I was relying way too much on foods that had little nutritional value (bread, candy, pre-packaged meals).  I love vegan food and the vegan lifestyle, but I no longer have the time or financial resources to keep up.  So, rather than eating crappy pre-packaged things, I'm cutting myself some slack and eating cheese and eggs...Mainly indulging in the delicious cheese I've been forgoing for the past several months.

One of the problems I have with all of the food related lifestyles out there is the extreme variety of feedback.  I always buy organic and locally when it is possible and within my budget, but then there's the added worry of buying vegetarian and vegan food.  Then you have the group of Raw foodists telling you to eat only raw food.  On top of that are freegans who go around and get wasted food from businesses at the closing of each day.  Don't forget the 1600 calories/day diet.  Eat only foods that aren't packaged to minimize waste.  Low carb.  Low fat.  No fat.  No sugar.  Low sugar.  Cool Cuisine--The global warming diet.  Eat foods or meals with only 6 or less ingredients.  Seriously?


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