Arizona State U & Johnson County CC Win 2016 Climate Leadership Awards
The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, in partnership with Second Nature, recently announced that Arizona State University and Johnson County Community College have been recognized for their innovative and advanced leadership in sustainability, climate change mitigation and resilience. Honorable mentions include Huston-Tillotson University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Santa Fe Community College and Southern Oregon University.
Vassar College Endorses 2016 Climate Action Plan
The 2016 Climate Action Plan outlines a path of action for achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, including construction of a small-scale hydro facility and a large-scale photovoltaic system within the next two years. To date, the college has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent from 2005 levels.
U California Purchases Electricity from 60MW Solar Installation
A key step in reaching the university system's goal of carbon neutrality by 2025, electricity produced by a recently completed, 60-megawatt (MW) solar farm will be purchased by the university, with nearly one-quarter going to UC Davis. The 60MW represents approximately 14 percent of the system's total usage and the university notes that an additional 20MW solar installation is set to come online by mid-2017.
Energy Action Coalition Becomes the Power Shift Network
After the Energy Action Coalition's newly hired (2015) executive director, Lydia Avila, completed a listening tour with stakeholders, it was decided that along with a name change, the Power Shift Network will decentralize itself into "a national network of climate, clean energy, and social justice organizations, including student-led groups, who, together, mobilize the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future and resilient, thriving communities for all", Avila says.
Three Universities Participate in Voluntary Carbon Offset Market
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Ball State University and Southern Oregon University sold credits produced through carbon-reducing activities to help finance and further their carbon neutrality work on campus. Made possible by Second Nature's Carbon Credit and Purchasing Program, the sale to BP Target Neutral generated over $1 million.
U British Columbia Publishes 'Carbon Neutral Action Report'
The newly released report summarizes the school's emissions profile, actions to reduce emissions, total offsets and ongoing and future strategies for continued emissions reductions. Highlights include greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 30 percent below 2007 levels despite a 16 percent increase in floor space and 22 percent increase in student enrollment. Reductions were primarily due to a steam to hot water conversion project (District Energy), displacement of natural gas through the Bio-energy Research and Demonstration Facility and optimizing academic building performance.
Eastern Mennonite U & Partners Launch Climate Center
The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions launched in August with a $1 million donation. Led by the university, the center will focus on connecting with a national and global network of like-minded organizations, researching best practices and innovation. Goshen College is a founding partner institution.
U West England to Construct Large Solar Array
(U.K.) To support the nation's decarbonization agenda, increase energy security and enhance local renewable energy capacity, the solar electric system is expected to supply 400-megawatt-hours of electricity, roughly half of the electricity used by the building upon which it will be constructed.
Scientific Organizations Write Congress Regarding Climate Change
The June letter to U.S. policymakers, representing 31 scientific organizations, reaffirmed human-caused climate change, noting that greenhouse gas emissions “must be substantially reduced” to minimize negative impacts on the global economy, natural resources and human health. The letter provides objective, authoritative information to policymakers.
North Carolina State U Tests Battery-Powered Lawn Equipment
New electric weed and hedge trimmers, leaf blowers and a lawn mower are now part of a pilot program to evaluate the equipment’s productivity, safety and cost-effectiveness. Air quality and noise reduction benefits are the driving motivators for the product testing.
Michigan State U Joins 'Workplace Charging Challenge'
In an effort to help reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions while also providing a valuable benefit to students, employees and visitors, the university recently joined the national partnership program, Workplace Charging Challenge through the U.S. Department of Energy, that aims to increase the number of employers offering workplace vehicle charging to 500 by 2018.
U British Columbia Boasts High Savings from Lab Challenge
One hundred and twelve participants, forming 18 teams, from 11 buildings across two campuses competed in a challenge to make research labs more energy efficient. The results yielded over 7,500-kilowatt-hours per year in energy savings, primarily through raising the freezer temperatures from minus 80 degrees C to minus 70 degrees.
U Massachusetts Amherst Divests Fossil Fuel Holdings
A recent announcement revealed a unanimous UMass Foundation Board of Directors' decision to divest its endowment, whose value was $770 million at the end of the last fiscal year, from direct holdings in fossil fuels. The move follows divestiture from coal companies in 2015.
Three New York Schools Win $1M Each in Clean Energy Competition
Bard College, University at Buffalo and SUNY Broome Community College each won $1 million as part of Governor Cuomo's Energy to Lead Competition. The competition, first announced in October 2015, challenged student-led coalitions from New York colleges and universities to design and develop innovative plans for campus and community-wide clean energy projects. Applicants were required to demonstrate innovation in one or more of the following areas: project design, business model, partnerships and/or curriculum integration.
U Winnipeg Unveils Climate Change Website
The new Prairie Climate Atlas is an interactive, online tool that uses climate data, geovisualizations and multimedia to map the dramatic changes predicted for the Canadian Prairies. The Atlas is the flagship project of the Prairie Climate Center, which is a collaboration between the University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The goal of the Atlas is to make the best climate science available to a broad spectrum of society.
SUNY New Paltz Partnership Yields 217KW Solar Array
The university's new partnership with the New York Power Authority will result in a 217-kilowatt solar electric system with a hybrid power converter and battery storage for use during emergencies and times of peak demand.
NextGen Climate Mobilizes Young Voters at 203 Campuses
NextGen Climate launched a national campaign to register and mobilize young voters at 203 college campuses in seven key battleground states to help elect climate champions to the White House and the Senate this fall. The campaign aims to show the size and scope of the enthusiasm for climate action among young voters.
Northern Arizona U to Install 720KW Solar Array
The university has signed a 20-year agreement on a soon-to-be constructed 723-kilowatt solar electric system that will be mounted on a parking garage. A separate 20-year agreement with another agency will provide six cents per kilowatt-hour produced by the system. The student-funded NAU Green Fund will contribute $100,000 a year for the first 10 years to offset the cost of purchasing the generated electricity.
MIT Report Highlights Creation of Climate Action Advisory Committee
In a new report released in April, MIT announced a new Climate Action Advisory Committee to consult on the implementation of climate plans, develop a set of strategies and benchmarks for the school's engagement with industry, government and other institutions, and assist in finding ways to engage the broader community in climate action. The report also outlines progress on its five-year climate action plan released in October 2015.
Stanford U Students Reduce Team Travel Emissions
The university recently announced that all of last year's (2015) varsity team air travel emissions were offset through Stanford Carbon Offsets to Reduce Emissions (SCORE), a collaborative effort to reduce Stanford Athletics’ carbon footprint from air travel by purchasing carbon offsets.
84 US Universities Join Second Nature's Climate Commitment
Second Nature recently announced that 84 charter college and university signatories across the U.S. have signed onto its Climate Commitment, which requires higher education institutions to set targets, report on progress publicly and collaborate with their surrounding community, all while integrating sustainability across the curriculum.
EPA Honors Winners of Campus RainWorks Challenge
In April 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency announced four winners and two honorable mentions for the 2015 Campus RainWorks Challenge. University of Texas at Arlington (Master Plan category) and University of Maryland, College Park (Demonstration Project category) were first place winners, with Stevens Institute of Technology (Master Plan) and University of California, Berkeley (Demonstration Project) taking second place. The Campus RainWorks Challenge encourages students to learn about the current or potential impacts of climate change on campus and demonstrate how using green infrastructure practices on their campuses can build resiliency to those impacts while effectively managing stormwater runoff.
U British Columbia Concludes Yearlong Sustainability Challenge
The yearlong student competition, which sought to engage students to develop new ideas that would help the university address campus sustainability challenges, ends with three top project submissions out of 11 total. Two projects focus on the university's non-disposable to-go container program, while the project that won top honors seeks to target faculty as agents of change by increasing the number that bike to work.
Harvard U Dispenses $1M Toward Climate Research Projects
Ten research projects driven by faculty collaborators across six Harvard Schools will share over $1 million in the second round of grants awarded by the Climate Change Solutions Fund, an initiative launched last year by President Drew Faust to encourage multidisciplinary research around climate change.
U Iowa Obtains Permit to Test Biomass in Power Plant
Continuing its transition away from coal as a fuel source, the university was recently permitted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to expand its use and testing of locally available, environmentally friendly fuels at the university-owned power plant. Called the Plantwide Applicability Limit (PAL), the permit caps university air-pollutant emissions through 2026 based on historical emission levels.
Students Pen Open Letter to Canadian Government Regarding Climate Change
In an effort to advance the country's climate mitigation efforts, post-secondary students at Canadian institutions are collecting signatures on the letter that urges Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and First Ministers of Canada to ratify the COP21 agreement to render it legally binding on April 22 and to implement a carbon price in all jurisdictions.
Cornell U Hosts Diet Education Events
The university will have a series of events designed to help participants improve their diet and reduce carbon emissions associated with food. The events will feature plant-based dishes and prizes for attendees.
Duke Kunshan U Campus to Receive LEED Certification
Duke Kunshan University is the first Chinese university campus to be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) campus program, with all five campus buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The campus is distinguished by its use of aquatic elements to absorb, store, permeate, purify and reuse rainwater. Classrooms are equipped with air filtration and carbon dioxide monitoring and 32 percent of the campus site is covered in oxygen-generating native plants. Buildings make use of natural light to reduce energy consumption, high-efficiency water fixtures and solar thermal collectors.
U British Columbia Bolsters City's Climate Action Potential
Student participants of the 2015 Greenest City Scholars cohort have worked with the city of Vancouver on specific sustainability projects including water and food challenges. The projects target the city's ability to be resilient in the face of climate challenges. Since 2010, the Greenest City Scholars Program has brought together a total of 79 graduate students from the University of British Columbia.
MIT Initiates Crowdsourcing for Climate Mitigation Ideas
The university recently launched a crowdsourcing contest to identify projects that reduce campus emissions and highlight the potential for scaleable, educational solutions as a living laboratory. The challenge is part of a new series of contests launched by the MIT Climate CoLab, a crowdsourcing platform of over 50,000 members. The series seeks high-impact proposals that tackle major climate change challenges.
Penn State to End Coal Shipments
In an effort to decrease greenhouse gases and increase the efficiency of energy use, the university will receive its last coal shipment March 2016. After 160 years of relying on coal for electricity and heat, the university is transitioning to natural gas, in part, to help the university comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's National Enforcement Initiatives.
Boston U Names Head of New Institute for Sustainable Energy
At the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Peter Fox-Penner and his team will focus on increasing energy research initiatives throughout the university, deepening connections among science, engineering and management scholars with policy makers and corporations, and advancing the curriculum at the university's schools and colleges. The institute’s three research focus areas are electric industry transformation, global climate change and smart, sustainable cities.
MIT Students & Administrators Reach Climate Agreement
After months of dialog and negotiation, the student-led group Fossil Free MIT and MIT administrators have reached an agreement that has brought an end to the group’s sit-in, which began in October 2015. The agreement identifies four areas where campus stakeholders will work together: campus carbon neutrality, a climate action advisory committee, strategies and benchmarks for public engagement, and holding a forum about the ethics of the climate issue.
Six Universities to Host Climate Leadership Summits
National Campus Leadership Council recently announced the six sites to host a 2016 Climate Leadership Summit as Arizona State University (April 16), Cal Poly Pomona and Claremont McKenna College (April 22-23), Florida International University (April 30), Georgia State University (April 6), and University of Wisconsin-River Falls (April 9). In partnership with Defend Our Future, the regional summits provide a platform to address energy challenges and climate change.
Swarthmore College Approves Carbon Charge
The college's Board of Managers recently approved $300,000 in its 2016-17 annual budget for a new carbon charge that will provide funding for campus initiatives and projects that increase energy conservation and efficiency and promote renewable energy. In the short term, the charge will be levied against the budgets of all academic and operational departments and long term, the charge will be tied to actual emissions.
U San Diego Climate Collaborative Receives $689K Grant
As storms and flooding from El Nino threaten the San Diego region’s coastline, infrastructure and economy, the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, a partnership managed by seven San Diego public agencies, including the University of San Diego, have received a $689,500 federal grant for coastal hazard protection and resilience. The two-year grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will integrate activities and provide new data on flood mapping and shoreline bluff surveys, develop additional legal, economic and scientific expertise and help cities with outreach and communication.
Millersville U Signs Climate Action Plan
A climate action plan signed by university President John Anderson last week outlines the concrete steps it will take to reduce carbon emissions and attain carbon neutrality by 2040. The plan calls for cutting greenhouse emissions by 65 percent compared with the university’s 2005 baseline. The remaining 35 percent will be dealt with by buying carbon offsets.
Terrapass Provides Offsets to College Football National Championship
The national football game playoff between top-ranked Clemson University and No. 2 University of Alabama was carbon neutral thanks to offsets provided by Terrapass for the competing teams' travel and accommodations and the College Football Playoff transportation fleet. Playoff Fan Central, a multi-day fan festival, was also carbon neutral.
USA Today Says Colleges Respond to Student Interest in Combating Climate Change
"More and more, students want to know what universities are doing about climate change — from reducing their own carbon footprint to preparing students for the environmental challenges ahead," reports a recent USA Today article. With the sustainability challenges that lie ahead, colleges and universities, "from Ivy League universities Cornell and Yale to small private colleges like Luther and Unity," are incorporating solutions to climate change in the way they operate and in academic programs to meet industry demand for sustainability skills and knowledge.
U California Collaborates on Climate Solutions
Announced at COP21 in Paris, the university has joined Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of investors led by Bill Gates that is committed to investing in technology that helps solve energy and climate issues, and Mission Innovation, an initiative to increase funding for research and development for early-stage clean energy innovation over the next five years.
U Ottawa Signs Montreal Carbon Pledge
Connecting with its strategic plan to find innovative solutions to issues of sustainability, the pledge recently signed by the university commits investors to measuring and publicly disclosing the carbon footprint of their investment portfolios on an annual basis
U Laval Attains Carbon Neutrality
Energy-saving retrofits and optimizing boiler combustion allowed the university to reduce its emissions by 27 percent between 2006 and 2015. Carbon offsets are being used for the remaining emissions.
Academics Sign Climate Change Letter
Over 2,000 academics from 80 countries have called on world leaders to set an upper limit of temperature rise to 1.5 C. Previous pledges ahead of the Conference on Climate Change in Paris have indicated 2.7-3 C, which the letter says will cause catastrophes far worse than any sacrifices in making reductions.