Second Nature Blog Newsletter

Celebrating Sustainability: Take Part by Publicizing Your School's Sustainability Successes in April

April 5, 2012

By Ulrike Klein, Director of Operations and Communications, Second Nature and John Salak, President, The Salak Group

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

The ACUPCC will celebrate Earth Day the entire month of April by profiling successful sustainability programs and activities at 15 colleges and universities. The Celebrating Sustainability series will demonstrate how effective our signatories are in building sustainable practices that have positive impacts on their campuses, students and surrounding communities.

The month-long celebration will highlight a different success story for each business day in April leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd. The campaign was announced nationally at the end of March.  Every profile will be supported by outreach to media outlets that matter most for the schools involved. The signatory success stories will also be identified on our ACUPCC Web site.

The profiles will cover a range of institutions in terms of size and location. They will also outline a wide array of success stories from Mount Washusett Community College’s drive to achieve near climate neutrality in operations thanks to the installation of two 1.65 MW wind turbines to UC Irvine’s launch of energy-saving Smart Labs.

Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative – February - March 2012

March 15, 2012

By Peter Bardaglio, Senior Fellow, Second Nature

Welcome to the February – March 2012 issue of the TCCPI Newsletter, an electronic update from the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI).

Community Coalition Launches Energy Savings Campaign

A coalition of over 70 local organizations officially kicked off the “Get Your GreenBack Tompkins” campaign at a public launch party on February 29 at the Kitchen Theatrein Ithaca, NY. The campaign aims to inspire all 42,000 households and every business in Tompkins County to take at least one new energy and money-saving step in their transportation, energy, waste, and food choices in the next year, saving money, creating jobs, and bringing the county closer to its goal of reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

Get Your GreenBack Launch Party- Photo Credit: Vanessa Dunn

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Generation E: At the Epicenter of Campus Sustainability and Action

March 6, 2012

By Juliana Goodlaw-Morris, Campus Field Manager for Campus Ecology, National Wildlife Federation and Julian Keniry, Senior Director of Campus and Community Leadership, National Wildlife Federation

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

Students are the epicenter of any college or university campus.  They are the heart and soul and the reason why colleges and universities exist, and it would be a disservice to any campus if students were not engaged throughout all aspects of campus sustainability.  A myriad of lessons have been learned from engaging an estimated 460,000 student leaders hailing from 2,000 campuses over Campus Ecology’s 23 years and counting of programming at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).  During this time, the program has also awarded approximately 180 Campus Ecology Fellowships to current undergraduate and graduate students and nearly 500 internships to recent graduates.   Throughout the evolution of campus sustainability, there have been changes in approach and goals for greening one’s campus; however the one constant has always been student leadership.

CA-CP Collaborates to Develop a Web-based Calculator

November 3, 2011

By Claire Roby, Carbon Accounting Manager, Clean Air-Cool Planet

(This article appears in the November, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

At the recent 2011 AASHE conference, Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) unveiled the next phase of the Campus Carbon Calculator™ evolution: we’ve partnered with Sightlines, LLC, to redevelop the Campus Carbon Calculator as a dynamic, web-based solution.  The goal: to streamline the transition from analysis to action with a simpler, more powerful tool.


Back in 2001, CA-CP partnered with the University of New Hampshire to develop a template for campus greenhouse gas tracking. That Excel-based template — better known as the Campus Carbon Calculator™ — has since become the most widely-used carbon management tool in higher education, evolving with user needs to become increasingly comprehensive while remaining transparent, customizable and free.

What Do We Stand for Now? The Oberlin Project

October 6, 2011

By David W. Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Senior Adviser to the President, Oberlin College

(This article appears in the October, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Adapted from the Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Fall 2011

Historian Geoff Blodgett once wrote that “Oberlin has always been preoccupied with the moral issues of the day.” That legacy is evident, notably, in Oberlin’s leadership in race-blind admissions and co-education. In the 21st century moral issues will be far more daunting and difficult than ever before, but mendacity, confusion, evasion, and paralysis are rampant in high places. In the summer of 2009 the College reconceptualized and joined four otherwise disparate objectives as an overarching initiative, the Oberlin Project. In affiliation with the City, we aim to revitalize the local economy, eliminate carbon emissions, restore local agriculture and forestry, and use the entire effort as an educational laboratory applicable in virtually every discipline.

Gathering the Green When Going Green

September 7, 2011

By Scott D. Miller, President, Bethany College
(This article appears in the September, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

Financing has been identified as a key barrier to implementing sustainability projects on campus. The ACUPCC Financing Sustainability Committee has been meeting since January 2011 to address the lack of information about available financing resources and to discuss strategies to encourage the federal government, and other funding sources, to increase support to signatories for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

During the ACUPCC Steering Committee Meeting at the June 2011 Washington, D.C., Annual Summit, two central, specific goals around financing were affirmed: 1) To help a specified percentage of the higher education community reduce on-campus energy consumption by 50% and achieve 100% renewable energy use within a decade; and 2) to move colleges and universities away from the notion that efficient and renewable energy projects have to pay for themselves—rather, we urge our fellow institutions to allocate funding for sustainability initiatives as part of their strategic planning process. A third goal is to develop resources on the ACUPCC website to enhance its effectiveness as a clearinghouse for information to identify and secure financing opportunities for sustainability initiatives.

ACUPCC Progress Report Content Announced

August 11, 2011

By January 15, 2012 nearly 400 ACUPCC signatories will submit a progress report on their Climate Action Plan (CAP). The contents of the Progress Report form are now available for review.

This reporting milestone marks an important stage in ongoing, unprecedented efforts of this network to publicly report on activities to eliminate operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide the education, research, and community engagement to enable the rest of society to do the same. Because of these tremendous efforts that the ACUPCC Reporting Systemnow includes more than 400 CAPs and almost 1300 GHG reports available for public viewing! Further solidifying higher education’s leadership to educate and transform society to a just, healthy, and low – carbon future.

Goals of the New Progress Report Form

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College Can Make the World Better...

August 5, 2011

by Steve Muzzy, Senior Associate, Second Nature

(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

[The following post documents my personal journey with higher education. The experiences and views expressed are solely my own.]

When I graduated from high school my classmates dispersed in one of three directions; entered the work force, joined the military, or enrolled in college. I was indifferent about my future after high school. Most of my decisions at this point were based on what I didn’t want to do, or on what others told me to do.

My thought process went something like this:

Should I enter the work force? I grew up in rural Massachusetts and had been chopping and stacking wood since I was 5 years old. My dad was a self-employed, heavy equipment operator so I was well skilled with a shovel and in jumping in ditches. I’d been washing dishes and doing other odd jobs since I received my drivers license at 16. I knew what the work force looked like for me and it was not what I wanted.

What about the military? I had uncles and neighbors that served or were serving and the prospect of combat did not resonate with me. This option was quickly ruled out.

Enroll in college? The only person in my family to graduate from college was a cousin who I had little contact with. To my knowledge neither my family’s friends, nor neighbors, had any experience with college. My perspective of college was informed by what I heard on the radio, or saw on television – I believed higher education was ‘progressive’ and provided space to explore vast ideas and unlimited experiences. I also believed that college prepared you for ‘professional’ employment.

Sodexo Helps Hobart and William Smith Colleges Go Climate Neutral

August 4, 2011

By Rachel Sylvan, Director, Sustainability & CSR, Sodexo North America and Bianca Mazzarella, Consultant, Context America

(This article appears in the August, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

On the shores of the pristine Seneca Lake in the heart of the Finger Lakes in northern New York, environmental sustainability is on everyone’s mind. Enjoying nature and the outdoors are a part of life here, and residents want to keep it that way.

So when Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) in Geneva, New York, decided to expand their student population, administrators wanted to ensure that the campus grew sustainably.

In September 2007, HWS signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an effort by a network of colleges and universities to accelerate sustainability by pursuing climate neutrality. This involves finding ways to ensure a campus produces no net emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by, for example, using renewable energy and conserving energy.

Signing the commitment formalized the institution’s obligation to cut carbon emissions, and in January 2010, HWS went a step further and published their Climate Action Plan, putting a 2025 deadline on campus climate neutrality. This is a tough target.

Sodexo, a long-time provider of dining services and facilities management to HWS, is helping HWS achieve that goal. Since 2008, we have worked with HWS to reduce energy consumption by 10%, and GHG emissions by 6%, as the student population has grown.

“We have a great working relationship with Sodexo,” said Jamie Landi, Sustainability Coordinator at HWS. “We don’t think of them as a separate entity on campus. We’re on the same team, and we both view sustainability as a top priority.”

I Act on Behalf of A Pale Blue Dot

July 29, 2011

by Anne Sjolander, Intern – Advancing Green Building Initiative

(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

I act on behalf of A Pale Blue Dot. (Remember this for later)

When I was younger I was always terrible at answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The first time I recall responding to that question was in the 4th grade. At age 9 my school thought it a good time to publish all of our prospective career paths in the year book. I wrote runway model and was greeted by the shrill laughter of my supposed friend sitting next to me. So, not wanting to look like a fool, I panicked and changed my reply to Wheeltor. What, you may be wondering, is a Wheeltor? Well it is a profession derived from a sad attempt to spell Realtor. Needless to say, they did not publish my response.

In high school I decided my future career path would be the anti-career path known as being a nomadic free spirit. Not wanting to disappoint my parents, I decided to complete my college degree before growing dreadlocks and wandering off into a field of sunflowers. So I checked off the undecided major and continued on my path to Boston University.

Once there I attended an array of classes such as archaeology, art history, drawing, world music and yoga classes, but nothing struck me as a topic to dedicate my life to. THEN, I took Astronomy. I didn’t fall in love with the subject, but it provided me with a great sense of perspective. The first week of class I was introduced to the words of Carl Sagan…

In 1990 the Voyager 1 reached the outer limits of our solar system, turned around and took a picture of our planet.

Cranberry Sauce and Jellyfish

June 27, 2011

by Andrea Putman, Director of Corporate Partnerships

(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

In the 4th grade, I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. A garbage woman and an author! Although I lived in a small, pristine town on the north shore of Long Island with very little mess, I abhorred the thought of litter. I envisioned a fruitful and happy vocation writing stories about my adventures while picking up stray cans and pieces of newspaper in the ‘hood.

One Thanksgiving, there was no cranberry sauce. The bogs were polluted in far-away Massachusetts. Although I wasn’t crazy about cranberry sauce, I was deeply bothered. It didn’t seem like how the world should operate and I learned that the distress in other places impacted what was on my plate. As the baby of the family with 3 hungry big brothers, 2 stepbrothers, and a sister, I was definitely concerned with the quantity of food on my plate.

We spent our joyous summers at Lattingtown Beach with our friends and neighbors swimming, laughing, playing backgammon and bocce ball, and throwing jellyfish at eachother. My innocence was shattered when the ominous and destructive red tide* hit the Long Island beaches in the 1970s. Beaches were shut down! No swimming! At this point, I knew in the depths of my soul that pollution was serious and impacted whether I could cool off and splash around or alternatively roast in the sun.

University of Maine Recognized for Climate Leadership

June 23, 2011

The University of Maine receivesSecond Nature’s 2nd Annual Climate Leadership Award for Climate Leadership. Award recipients were recognized at the 5th Annual American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Summit in Washington, DC on June 23rd, hosted by George Washington University.

President Robert Kennedy, Vice President for Administration and Finance Janet Waldron, and Executive Director of Facilities and Planning Elaine Clark – along with faculty, staff, and students – are all active participants in the University of Maine Sustainability Alliance, which has been responsible for the development of the university’s climate action plan. The office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance also coordinated the creation of the award-winning and sustainability-focused campus master plan. UMaine’s senior administration is currently working to harmonize the implementation of these two plans and to create an overarching sustainability plan to guide university decision-making and development.

Why I Work – Wind and War

June 17, 2011

by Rima Mulla, Communications Manager, Second Nature

(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Early 1991. You could literally taste the petroleum in the air.

Not too far from there—less than 250 miles away—the oil fields of a just-liberated Kuwait were on fire. In a retaliative and vindictive move, Saddam Hussein had ordered his retreating troops to set the country’s biggest export ablaze.

I was 13 at the time and didn’t yet grasp the consequences of this event—on Kuwait’s economy, people’s health in the region, the air, land, and sea around me. All I knew was that when I breathed the air tasted bad, when it rained the rain was dirty, and that couldn’t be good.

Kuwait oil fields, 1991

Why I Work

May 31, 2011

by Judy Groleau, Vice President of Development, Second Nature
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

In retrospect, very early on in my life, I can recall two constant themes that arose in almost of all the communication in my home as a child. It did not matter what the topic of discussion was, delivered in a soft spoken manner or as loud as shattering glass, somehow it always centered around money or more succinctly put, not enough money to make ends meet.  I believe that this is why I ended with a career in Development.

I am the youngest of five children and we were always encouraged to share as kids.  For me, it was always important to have things to call my own.  I would never share things unless my father or mother forced me to.  I remember always being eager to make a trade in lieu of sharing and was usually pretty successful at swaying one from “sharing something” to having one commit to “trading” instead.  No matter how many times I got the lecture from my dad, “You know they name streets after you, one way” it never dawned on me that there was any other way but to trade.  I always felt like a success when I was able to clench that “deal.”

The toy I dreamed most of having as a child was a cash register.  I spotted it in the annual edition of the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Wish catalog.  It was an especially good Christmas that year as Santa left me that very toy under the Christmas tree.  It was a hot pink, Tom Thumb, metal cash register with black buttons.    I ran about the house making and placing price tags on everything.  I made my own currency.  I sold siblings objects that belonged to them, back to them all for the love of the “transaction.”

What makes go-karts go round

May 10, 2011

by Al DeLuca, Web Applications Developer, Second Nature
(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

Growing up there were two things that influenced why I work: books and go-karts. This might seem an odd mix, but it’s how things were for me. Go-karts were part of my nurturing, while books spoke to an innate nature in me, expressed as a predisposition towards language. Nature and nurture working in tandem, not as binary opposites, has been my life’s ambition and of late, if not my life’s work, at the very least the work I get paid for. Coming to Second Nature, thus far, has been an opportunity to find synthesis of thought and action and embodiment of ideas shared amongst like-minded individuals.

My family owned an amusement park on Cape Cod, Massachusetts which included as its prime draw the longest go-kart track in the commonwealth -- and the second longest in the country – at just over a third of a mile. While some might think this is every kid’s dream come true, it was considerably less fun than one might imagine. The smells of exhaust fumes and axle grease permeate my earliest memories, and work, at least during the busy summer season, went on late into the night. There were dangers as might be expected where horsepower meets adrenaline. There were aspects to it not fit for print. It was fun, but as it commuting to my brother and I, it slowly sunk in that “this much fun isn’t normal.” But I digress.

On yogurt lids and change

April 29, 2011

By Ulli Klein, Second Nature’s Director of Operations & Communication

(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

“Where does this one go?”

That was probably one of the most common question I heard my father ask. It was the mid 80s. Germany had just started a nation-wide recycling program and, like with many things German, the program was strictly enforced including “Trash cops” checking residents compliance by going through their trash.

Here was my 63 year old father, standing in the kitchen with the aluminum lid of a yogurt container in one hand and the container itself in the other hand staring at the three different colored trash cans.

“Where do I put this,” he would ask again and if no one was there to answer, he would quietly place container and lid on the counter and scurry out of the kitchen in hopes my mother would take care of it.

I was convinced there was no way to retrain his old mind.

There are still days where I feel that the United States, my adopted home country,  is a lot like my father was 20+ years ago: Willing and able but confused about living a sustainable life – and I say that with a lot of affection for both, the United States and my father.

We Have 100% of the Student Footprint

April 11, 2011

Last week, we released a new video that answers the two questions most frequently put to us since Second Nature was founded in 1993:

Why is Education for Sustainability so important?

Why focus on the higher education sector?

Heres’s our answer:

Watch the video on YouTube and Vimeo.

The Second Nature YouTube Channel
View this and other Education for Sustainability videos on our YouTube channel. While you’re there, become a subscriber!

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New on Campus Green Builder: The State of Education and Clean Energy Reform

January 31, 2011

Photo Credit: Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times

Second Nature’s Advancing Green Building intern Vanessa Santos recently shared her thoughts regarding President Obama’s points on education and clean energy in his 2011 State of the Union address. Vanessa writes:

“President Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address on Tuesday evening inspired optimism that future investments would be made in education, as well as in clean energy technology. Though skeptics can criticize whether the President will be able to hold true to his remarks yesterday evening, his address was successful in noting the connection between sustainable clean energy reform and the need to support higher education, specifically in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.”

Read Vanessa’s full post on the Campus Green Builder blog, here.


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