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American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment
The ACUPCC Implementer Second Nature

Dear Implementation Liaisons,

Welcome to the first issue of this newsletter that delves into a topic which many of you have expressed interest in: Renewable Energy Credits and greenhouse gas offsets. First, we bring you up to date on Second Nature's expanding training program. If you didn't attend the webinar on greenhouse gas report verification, I would highly recommend you check out the recording; this is the first step to beginning to effectively address your campus emissions. Then, Tim Stumhofer from the GHG Management Institute looks into the question of exactly what RECs and offsets are and how they differ. Blaine Collison of U.S. EPA's Green Power Partnership provides helpful guidance on best practices for purchasing RECs, and Dano Weisbord of Smith College reports on lessons learned from their Power Purchase Agreement to install a PV array. These contributors, along with the University of Pennsylvania, will participate in a webinar on July 20, so look for registration information coming soon. Also, this month is your last chance to submit applications for the 2010 AASHE Awards for Campus Case Studies, Student Leadership, and Student Research. Second Nature has also announced its 2010 Climate Leadership Awards for ACUPCC signatories to be announced at the 2010 Climate Leadership Summit - be sure to apply by the June 30 deadline! Finally, we are gathering a group of ILs to participate in an Implementation Advisory Committee to be consulted on a variety of matters related to ACUPCC implementation. If you are interested in participating, please contact me at tnelson@secondnature.org.

With regards,
Toni Nelson

Table of Contents

  1. Second Nature's Training and Education Program Heats Up in the Summer Months
  2. RECs and GHG Offsets: A folly of choice and a crisis of definition
  3. Purchasing Green Power: Best Practices and Unique Higher Education Opportunities
  4. Power Purchase Agreements: Can I develop renewable energy and keep the carbon too?

Second Nature's Training and Education Program Heats Up in the Summer Months

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

On May 20th, Second Nature and the ACUPCC hosted a webinar to accompany May's Implementer article, The Case for Reporting and Verifying your Greenhouse Gas Inventory, with presenters from the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, the Climate Registry, the University of California and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The webinar provided a comprehensive introduction to the concept of greenhouse gas verification, with two signatory institutions sharing their perspective on the benefits of verifying their inventories through participation in The Climate Registry. A recording of the webinar is available on the ACUPCC website. With graduation behind us and the academic year coming to a close, I hope you'll take the opportunity to continue your own learning through our webinar series and upcoming workshops. In June, Second Nature and the ACUPCC will host two webinars and also conduct a joint webinar with AASHE's STARS program. In July, we present two workshops on Climate Action Planning as well as a webinar on RECs with the contributors to this edition of the newsletter. If you're interested in helping to shape the training and education program for 2011, please contact me at bkoneval@secondnature.org.

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

by Tim Stumhofer, Program Associate, Greenhouse Gas Management Institute

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. However, 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 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). To best understand the difference between these often-confused environmental commodities, it is instructive to first consider their origins. As any good history teacher would tell you: the origin of an idea matters. Here, particularly, is the case of two distinct economic instruments often lumped together as "environmental commodities" in spite of the divergence of their intended use and underlying definitions. Read more...

Purchasing Green Power: Best Practices and Unique Higher Education Opportunities

U.S. Voluntary Market Sales

Source: NREL/TP-6A2-46581, September 2009 (PDF)
by Blaine Collison, Program Director, Green Power Partnership, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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 purchasing almost 1.5 billion kWh of green electricity through the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Power Partnership (GPP), a voluntary program that offers technical support, best practices, and communications resources. Read more...

Power Purchase Agreements: Can I Develop Renewable Energy and Keep the Carbon Too?

by Dano Weisbord, Environmental Sustainability Director, Smith College

Smith College's Solar Dashboard

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. Read more...

View the Clean Air-Cool Planet webinar recording featuring the Smith College PPA experience. Discount for ACUPCC signatories in June with code: ACUPCC.

2010 Climate Leadership Summit
Save the Date!

AASHE 2010 Conference
October 10-12, 2010
Denver, CO

ACUPCC 2010 Climate Leadership Summit
October 12-13, 2010
Denver, CO

ACUPCC Workshops

Crafting Your Climate Action Plan: Sharing Best Practices
July 13, 2010
Boston, MA

Solutions Module Boot-Camp: Using the Campus Carbon Calculator™ for your Climate Action Planning
July 24, 2010
San Francisco, CA

Webinars

Alternative Financing: PPAs
January 19, 2010 (Recording)
Signatory discount in June. Code: ACUPCC

Changing the Climate on Your Campus: Addressing Food and Other Leading Causes of Climate Change
June 7, 2010

Campus Trees: A Model for Calculating and Communicating Carbon Sequestration
June 15, 2010

Working Together: STARS & the ACUPCC
June 17, 2010

Procuring Green Power Through Reverse Energy Auctions
June 24, 2010

Energy Performance Contracting: Economic and Environmental Benefits at the University of Central Missouri
June 28, 2010

Events

The Delta Project: Working to Build Sustainable Campuses
June 16-18, 2010
Bar Harbor, ME
Discount for ACUPCC Signatories

Resources

Campus Green Builder

Campus Sustainability Discussion Forums

Climate Action Planning Wiki

ACUPCC Reporting System

Implementation Guide (PDF)

Powered by the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment
The ACUPCC Implementer
Issue 21, June 3, 2010

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