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

Dear Implementation Liaisons,

Second Nature COO Michelle Dyer has formally announced that she will be leaving the organization following the ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit to take a position as Principal of Intersection Partners, a private equity investment firm that builds sustainable businesses. Michelle has provided support to the ACUPCC since 2006 and took the time to offer some reflections on her experience. All of us at Second Nature wish her success in her new role. As we gear up for discussions about the future of the ACUPCC at the Summit, we are fortunate to have several newly released studies based on the growing database of information housed on the ACUPCC Reporting System. Cindy Klein-Banai of the University of Illinois at Chicago studied the ways in which institutional factors affect greenhouse gas emissions for her dissertation research and shares her results here. The consultants at ERG, with funds generously provided by the U.S. EPA Green Power Partnership program, reviewed 50 representative Climate Action Plans (CAPs) and interviewed more than two dozen schools to identify best practices in CAP development along with the specific mitigation and educational strategies used on campuses. Their article summarizes the results and links to the full report. Over the past several months, the ACUPCC team at Second Nature made check-in calls to more than 400 institutions with a reporting deadline on September 15. For assistance with reporting, please contact Steve Muzzy, Senior Associate or Colin Smith, Program Associate. We look forward to seeing you at the summit next week.

With regards,
Toni Nelson

Table of Contents

  1. What ACUPCC Reporting Data Can Tell Us about Campus Sustainability
  2. The ACUPCC Network: Collaborative Action Creates Multiplier Effect
  3. Why Do Good Plans Die?
  4. New Report Highlights Best Practices for Creating a Climate Action Plan

What ACUPCC Reporting Data Can Tell Us about Campus Sustainability

Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability, University of Illinois at Chicago

Tying in sustainability to climate action seems quite obvious to most of us. Greenhouse gas emissions result from a number of activities that sustainability initiatives traditionally address; if the emissions from those activities can be reduced, substituted by more "sustainable" energy sources, or offset then the campus carbon (equivalent) footprint is reduced and we are on our way to being more sustainable. Is that really all there is to it? Isn't sustainability about looking at a complex system and implementing processes to make it more environmentally, socially, and economically viable? For my doctoral research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), I wanted to take a step back from the obvious to see how institutional factors affect GHG emissions. Through the ACUPCC Reporting System, we have an increasing wealth of data at our fingertips that likely no sector across the United States has in such a comprehensive fashion. Using the data that the signatories report, I put to work the concept of using the campus as a learning laboratory or, in this case, using all of our campuses as a laboratory. Read more...

The ACUPCC Network: Collaborative Action Creates Multiplier Effect

by Georges Dyer, Interim Vice President of Programs, Second Nature

A core concept in the field of systems thinking is that the relationships between the components of a system are vital to understanding the system as a whole. The ACUPCC network exemplifies this concept. The colleges and universities which have made top-level commitments to promote education and research on climate and sustainability and 'walk the talk' by pursuing climate neutrality in their operations are poised to have a great impact on humanity's quest to break our fossil fuel addiction and preserve a safe, livable future. To date, 535 institutions have submitted greenhouse gas inventories and 320 have submitted climate action plans - all publicly available on the ACUPCC Reporting System so students, faculty and staff can learn about where their institutions stand and what strategies other institutions are trying. Perhaps more importantly, the cumulative impact of this collaborative initiative is accelerating progress in other sectors, serving as a role-model and helping to set precedent for national and international climate action. Read more...

Why Do Good Plans Die?

by Wendell Brase, Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine and Chair, University of California Climate Solutions Steering Group

Every institution has an unfortunate legacy of well-intentioned plans that have died. Why do some plans transform an institution while others grow stale on the shelf? Sometimes plans with the most impressive packaging are inherently inadequate, lacking the key ingredients necessary for an organization to move from plan to action: a goal that is simple and clear, measureable milestones, understandable metrics, and feasible resource expectations. Sometimes failure of a plan to prove transformative is not an inherent weakness of the plan itself but due to organizational incapacity or resources. How can we maintain momentum when our governing boards are consumed by concerns about declining revenues, student access and affordability, and looming fiscal nightmares around benefits, investments, and pensions? They cannot ignore these problems; neither can we. One thing we can do is concentrate on carbon-reducing actions that are practically cost-free, or self-financing, including a number of grass-roots changes in institutional culture that can constructively engage students during a time when major investments may have to wait. Read more...

New Report Highlights Best Practices for Creating a Climate Action Plan

by Sargon deJesus, Science Writer and Analyst, Anthony Amato, Senior Climate and Energy Analyst, and Robyn Liska, Climate and Energy Analyst, Eastern Research Group

When signatories take the first step of self-discovery by starting to craft a Climate Action Plan (CAP), many discover that the journey is more of a grueling uphill climb. Every school faces challenges that set back their climate action planning - entrenched operations, cost, lack of community buy-in, constraints on staff time. What can your school do to avoid these obstacles? To help answer this, a new report by Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG) details important best practices in creating a CAP by analyzing completed reports and speaking with schools directly. Through the support of EPA, the recently released study "Climate Action Planning: A Review of Best Practices, Key Elements, and Common Climate Strategies" identifies helpful approaches that any signatory can start using for their first CAP or future update. ERG's survey included an array of 50 colleges of all sizes, regions, and breadth of degree offerings. The results from this research show ambitious trends that represent a significant reduction in carbon emissions and exemplify the power of the ACUPCC. Read more...

Workshop

UNCF Introduction to GHG Management and CAP Planning
November 4-5, 2010
Atlanta, GA
Offered free to Minority-Serving Institutions

Events

Bioneers Conference
October 15-17, 2010
San Rafael, CA
*10% discount for ACUPCC Signatories with code SN2010

Campus Sustainability Day 8 Webcast
October 20, 2010

New England Environmental Education Conference
October 20, 2010
Fairlee, VT

Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium Annual Meeting
October 25-26, 2010
Montreal, Quebec

Green Schools, Sustainable Communities: Growing New Opportunities
October 27, 2010
Rome, GA

AASHE Open Space Conference Call: Education for Sustainability Information Exchange
November 2, 2010

Opportunities

Building a Better Tomorrow, Today Video Competition
Deadline: October 15, 2010

USGBC 20% Discount on ALL Education Products
Through October 31, 2010

National Wildlife Federation's Chill Out Competition
Deadline: December 19, 2010

Webinar

US EPA Electronic GHG Reporting Tool Training Sessions
October - November, 2010

Resources

Advancing Education for Sustainability
Strategy paper prepared by Second Nature and USGBC

Sustainability Curriculum in Higher Education: A Call to Action
Report from AASHE's Summit on Sustainability in the Curriculum

ACUPCC Implementation Liaison Support Committee

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 25, October 6, 2010

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