Four Universities Join University Climate Change Coalition
Second Nature recently announced that Boston University, the University of Connecticut, the University of South Florida, and Washington University in St. Louis have joined the thirteen other research universities that comprise the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). UC3 is a new network of research institutions from across North America formed in early February that committed to leveraging their institutional strengths to foster exchange of best practices and research agenda in pursuit of accelerating local climate solutions.
U Maryland Receives $3M NSF Grant to Launch Graduate Program
The $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will be used to establish a new graduate training and research program, Global STEWARDS (STEM Training at the Nexus of Energy, Water Reuse and Food Systems). The program seeks to enable UMD to recruit and train more than 60 doctoral students in the life sciences, earth system sciences, engineering and computational sciences, natural resource management, and energy and environmental policy.
U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Launches Student-Written Environmental Publication
The first published issue of Q Magazine features articles from students enrolled in the undergraduate certificate in Environmental Writing, a joint venture of the university's Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, the School for Earth, Society, and Environment, and the English department. Students enrolled in the capstone course learn about the latest scientific research on the environment and how to communicate that research effectively to the public.
Teams From Two Universities Win Affordable Housing Design Competition
Teams from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte won first and third, while a team from California College of the Arts won second place in the 2018 Steel Design Student Competition, put on by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The Affordable Housing category is socially oriented to challenge students to design affordable multi-family housing in an urban context.
U Washington Researchers Help Government Building Get Fitwel Certification
Two researchers in the university's Civil & Environmental Engineering department assisted the city of Bellevue with Fitwel certification of its city hall. Administered by the Center for Active Design, Fitwel encourages the adoption of 63 strategies that support healthy behavior by occupants. Out of a total possible 144 points, Bellevue City Hall earned 92 points, receiving a one-star rating.
Purdue U Receives $70M to Lead Research Consortium on International Development
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded $70 million to the university to lead a multi-university consortium that aims to devise evidence-based solutions for pressing development challenges. The consortium will help USAID identify research challenges across all its technical sectors and geographical locations and identify experts worldwide to answer questions about the challenges, such as food security, global health and early childhood education. Purdue’s supporting partners in the consortium are Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame.
Pueblo CC to Introduce Renewable Energy Living Lab
The community college recently announced a new partnership with NextEra Energy Resources where NextEra will deliver and install 52 photovoltaic solar panels to create a 20-kilowatt solar energy system on PCC’s Pueblo campus. NextEra also will provide training and curriculum to help the college create a pipeline of skilled workers into the solar industry.
RIT Inspires Climate Change Modification for Minecraft
After attending a course on climate change science, technology and policy last spring at Rochester Institute of Technology, Minecraft Developer Nick Porillo created a new plugin that adds climate change factors to the game. Different elements of gameplay affect the carbon dioxide levels in the game world’s atmosphere.
Virginia Tech U Rolls Out Community Bike-Share Program
A regional partnership among Virginia Tech, Blacksburg and Christiansburg, and Montgomery County now gives the community access to 12 bike stations with eight being housed on the Virginia Tech campus. Seventy-five bikes are in circulation with plans to expand in the future. Riders gain access to the bikes through a smart phone app. The program offers flexible pricing and timing options, along with unlimited daily, monthly and yearly memberships.
Virginia Commonwealth U Partners to Offer Public Transit
The university has signed a one-year agreement with a transit company to provide unlimited transportation access on certain routes for all VCU students and employees. The $1.2 million initiative will become effective on Aug. 1.
U Maryland Professor Collaborates on $1.1M Grant to Study Sea-Level Adaptation
A professor of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland will collaborate with researchers from George Washington University, University of Delaware, and Resources for the Future using a $1.1 million grant to further research on sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The research combines crop research, wetland ecology, geological and chemical analyses, and economic modeling to determine what crop management strategies work in saltier environments and to identify practical applications that will be the most cost effective and profitable. The project’s outreach initiatives will include webinars, the creation of educational materials, and train-the-trainer sessions.
U California President's Office Launches Million Light Bulb Challenge
The Million Light Bulb Challenge is a statewide effort to advance the purchase of 1 million high-quality, energy-efficient light bulbs for campus buildings and residences across the state. Under the program, all UC students, staff, faculty, retirees and alumni can purchase light bulbs at nearly half the price of online competitors.
Penn State U New Kensington Receives $75K for Community Engagement
The university was awarded $75,000 from the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund for the creation of a community educational workshop that will host speakers and sessions related to sustainability and energy for community members and business owners. The workshop will also help identify local needs and gaps. Remaining funding will support revitalization efforts in the city of New Kensington.
U Manchester Joins Principles for Responsible Investment
(U.K.) In joining the U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the university now works with its investment managers to incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into their selection criteria. A couple features of the policy are identifying and promoting low or zero-carbon investments where available without detrimental impact to investment risk and returns, divesting in shares in companies which do not respond positively to concerns about their practices or are deemed to be in breach of acceptable standards or ethical or environmental practice, and engaging more proactively with investment managers to ensure that the new policy is being put into practice.
U Cambridge Establishes Sustainability Fellowship Program
(U.K.) The Prince of Wales Global Sustainability Fellowship Program was recently launched by the the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership to provide a platform for academic departments, Cambridge colleges, and the private sector to collaborate to identify breakthrough solutions to meet the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Southern Oregon U Opens to Community for Smoke & Fire Relief
In an effort to provide relief from the heat and smoke-filled air caused by dozens of climate-driven wildfires throughout the area, the university is now welcoming community members to several air-conditioned facilities across campus. The university has also opened its indoor track in the Student Recreation Center for community members to have a cool, clean place to exercise out of the smoke.
Pac-12 Launches 'Green Team'
During the 2018 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference in July, the Pac-12 officially announced the launch of Pac-12 Team Green, an initiative that will promote all of the sustainability efforts taking place on and around the conference and all 12 of its member universities. Key components of the Green Team are the Pac-12 Sustainability Conference, Zero Waste Competition, and Sustainability Working Group.
Three Higher Ed Institutions Sign Agreement to Develop Wind Energy Curriculum
Bristol Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth recently signed a memorandum of understanding to share resources and collaborate on the development of curriculum and programs centered on the offshore wind energy sector. The goal of the Connect4Wind agreement is to create a sustainable offshore wind industry that compliments the existing and historic fishing and industrial uses of the port. It also aims to develop a better understanding of the workforce requirements of existing models of offshore wind and deepen the understanding as a new industry sector with an appropriate supply chain model.
U Denver Pilots New Shuttle
Building on the momentum of providing sustainable transportation options to students and staff, the university is piloting a new, subsidized shuttle service. The new service will provide rides along two designated routes around the perimeter of campus, with stops that include the university's light rail station, the new administrative building and four other locations around campus.
Arizona State U Launches 'Carbon Project'
The ASU Carbon Project is a program that purchases carbon offset credits and supports local projects that mitigate carbon. To partially fund the carbon-reduction initiatives, the university enacted a mandatory price on carbon for all ASU-sponsored air travel at a current rate of $8 per round-trip flight. The ASU Carbon Project will begin to use these funds for carbon offset credits in 2025.
U Central Florida Joins Coastal Sustainability Consortium
As part of its ongoing efforts to help develop sustainable, resilient and economically successful coastal communities while ensuring the ecological security of coastal ecosystems, the university’s National Center for Integrated Coastal Research recently became a member of the Blue Community Consortium. The consortium has developed a certification process based on global sustainable tourism criteria that emphasizes coastal-habitat protection, restoration and enhancement.
Northeast Schools Partner to Launch Sustainable Energy Training Consortium
Antioch University New England, Greenfield Community College, Keene State College, and the School for International Training started the Ecovation Hub Education and Training Consortium to bring broader sustainable economy knowledge and opportunities to the tri-state area of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The consortium introduced its first course this summer at Keene State College, which was a two-week program in sustainable building practices.
U Nottingham Partners With Volvo on Energy Storage Research
(U.K.) The new partnership with Volvo Trucks aims to convert diesel engines due for scrap into renewable power storage units that can charge electric bus and truck fleets. The project idea is to re-task the engines to become machines that compress and expand air to store and release energy, called Compressed Air Energy Storage.
Humboldt State U & Santa Rosa Junior College to Receive $5M Each for Microgrids
The California Energy Commission recently announced that Humboldt State's Sponsored Programs Foundation will receive $5 million for a multi-customer, front-of-the-meter microgrid with renewable energy generation owned by a community choice aggregation and the microgrid circuit owned by an investor-owned utility. Santa Rosa Junior College campus will receive $5 million from the energy commission for a renewable energy microgrid demonstration project, which will meet 40 percent of the electricity needs at the campus and allow the campus to provide emergency services during power outages.
Indiana U Partners With City on Bike-Share Program
The city of Bloomington and the university have partnered to launch a dockless bike sharing service, operated by company Zagster, which aims to give residents, students and visitors an affordable and sustainable on-demand transportation option. With an initial base of 150 bicycles, the program will offer rides at $1 per half-hour, with monthly subscriptions available for unlimited 60-minute trips.
61 Catholic Universities Sign 'Catholic Climate Declaration'
The declaration affirms the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by renewing Catholic support for continuing U.S. actions to address climate change. In addition to the 61 higher education signers, 37 dioceses, close to 200 religious communities, and more than 100 parishes and more than a dozen Catholic health care organizations signed on. The signing announcement coincided with the third anniversary of Laudato Sí, Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment and human ecology.
U Brighton Begins Using Liquid Air to Store Energy
(U.K.) Called Liquid Air Energy Storage, the technology works by storing air as a liquid in above-ground tanks and, when electricity is required, the liquid air is brought to ambient temperature where it regasifies and turns a turbine. The 5-megawatt plant is a result of a two-year partnership project to develop understanding of high grade power storage and influence design guidelines for future plants.
U Louisville Launches Institute to Study Human-Environment Interrelationship
With a $5M gift, the university will establish the Envirome Institute at the School of Medicine, dedicated to researching environmental determinants of health. Specifically the institute will study environmental factors that influence heart disease, better known as environmental cardiology. The institute will incorporate community engagement and citizen science to introduce a new approach to the study of health.
Harvard U Pens Letter Opposing New EPA Rule
University President Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a letter to Scott Pruitt, the EPA’s administrator, opposing "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science," a proposed rule that would restrict the kinds of scientific studies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can use when it develops policies. The letter argues that the proposed rule would significantly limit the EPA's ability to consider best available science and erode public trust in the EPA's work.
Texas A&M U to Open Teaching Garden
The garden is scheduled to open in mid-June and includes 21 themed garden "rooms" for teaching and research in food production and landscape management. Future phases include outdoor venues for performing arts, films, celebrations and social events. Other planned gardens include one for children, a rose garden and a feed-the-world themed courtyard.
Four Institutions Collaborate on Social Infrastructure Development
Founding partners of the new B.C Collaborative for Social Infrastructure are Simon Fraser University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of Northern British Columbia and Vancouver Island University. The collaboration will focus on sustainable campus and community building, indigenous entrepreneurship and social finance, social procurement, and library outreach and community scholar programs. The four institutions will share practices and policies to encourage progress and to determine how initiatives can be scaled-up and enhanced. The institutions plan to create a community of practice that can be shared with other post-secondary institutions across Canada.
Northwestern U Partners With WWF
The university and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining joint collaborative strategies for advancing sustainability solutions and research areas including: sustainable materials, green infrastructure planning, water science and flood management, plastic waste solutions, climate change impact and adaptation analysis, environmental communications, and training for policymakers, advocates and students.
Stellenbosch U Introduces Diploma in Sustainable Development
(South Africa) Introduced in January this year, this first-ever undergraduate program in Sustainable Development at the university is offered by the School of Public Leadership in collaboration with its Sustainability Institute. The workplace-based diploma aims to give students an opportunity to work on sustainability challenges, gaining skills and experiences perhaps not otherwise available to them.
U Michigan Grants Target Sustainability Challenges in Puerto Rico & Michigan
The Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan has awarded more than $200,000 to support three sustainability-related research projects in Puerto Rico and Michigan. The projects vary in scale and address energy and food system resilience in Puerto Rico, stormwater management on tribal lands in Michigan, and plans for a green energy village in Detroit’s Eastern Market.
Maharishi U Management Student Farm Launches CSA
Students studying regenerative organic agriculture started a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and are providing 20 memberships to community members. For $320, CSA members will receive a weekly box of fresh vegetables during the 16-week growing season.
U Connecticut Expands Park Built on Landfill
The Hillside Environmental Education Park opened in 2008, following the remediation and closure of the former UComm landfill, which dates back at least 50 years. The park was recently expanded with the addition of land, trails, and more than a dozen trailhead and interpretive signs. The park is now 165 acres and includes three miles of trails through uplands, wetlands, meadows and woodlands.
U Plymouth Wins Award for Greening Nursing Field
(U.K.) A team from the University of Plymouth received a Guardian University Award for the development and implementation of the NurSusToolkit, a teaching and learning resource for sustainability in nursing education that seeks to reduce the National Health Service's environmental impact.
U California San Diego Receives 2018 Grid Edge Innovation Award
The university was recognized for providing a platform for companies to test new electric vehicle charging technologies with real customers. The university partners with 18 commercial EV charging companies to test a variety of technical configurations and models with the university's population of more than 400 EV commuters.
Penn State Behrend Partners for Biofuel Research Opportunities
A $1 million investment by Hero Bx, an Erie-based biodiesel company, will create research opportunities for students and faculty members in the School of Science. Students will work in a new, 1,500-square-foot chemistry lab with Hero Bx chemists and other researchers to reduce the sulfur in biodiesel feedstocks, which are processed for reuse as transportation fuels and heating oil. Subsequent studies will focus on increasing the efficiency of biodiesel in cold-temperature applications, including commercial aviation.
Rice U Collaborates to Restore Native Habitat
The university's Arboretum Committee, an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology class, and several community partners collaborated to plant an urban prairie on campus that will help retain flood water, sequester carbon and sustain a variety of native species.
Northern Arizona U Collaborates With Flagstaff on Bike-Share Program
In conjunction with the City of Flagstaff, the university launched a new bicycle share program through Spin as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The city is testing the bike-share program fee-free for six months, which allows people to use one of 300 dockless bikes for 50 cents per hour.
Three US Legislators Introduce Climate Change Education Act
U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan recently introduced legislation that would create a grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aimed at promoting climate literacy. By supporting the application of the latest scientific and technological discoveries, it would promote formal and informal learning opportunities that emphasize actionable information. The grant program would also support professional development for teachers.
U Massachusetts Boston Releases Report on Climate Resilience Financing
In April 2018, the university's Sustainable Solutions Lab released a report, Financing Climate Resilience Report, that looks at different financial mechanisms for climate resilience. It provides recommendations for the city of Boston and the region on how to pay for climate adaptation investments and suggests that funding needs to be leveraged at the federal, state, municipal and district levels.
Energy Dept Announces Zero Energy Student Design Competition Results
Prairie View A&M University was deemed the grand winner of the U.S. Department of Energy's Race to Zero Student Design Competition, a competition that challenges collegiate teams to apply sound building science principles to create cost-effective, market-ready designs for zero energy ready homes and schools.
U Louisville Launches Student Sustainability Fund & Philanthropy Program
The new fund allows finance students to participate in socially responsible investing by selecting funds, investing real dollars, managing the fund and voting their proxies. Then, social change students use the proceeds to fund local nonprofit or philanthropic projects either on or off campus. The inaugural beneficiary was a local non-profit organization dedicated to housing and mentoring youth who are in the state's custody and aging out of the foster care system.
Indiana U-Purdue U Indianapolis Hosts Inaugural Sustainability Summit
The summit, which happened in late March, was a collaboration between the university and the City of Indianapolis Office of Sustainability. The goals of the summit were to highlight the impact of community and collaborative efforts in advancing sustainability in Indianapolis and to engage the community in creating a vision of sustainability for Indianapolis.