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.
200+ Universities Sign 'American Campuses Act on Climate' Pledge
Ahead of the Conference on Climate Change, 218 U.S. universities and colleges signed a pledge to demonstrate their support for strong climate action by world leaders in Paris next month. This announcement came at a White House Summit with higher education representatives, the U.S. EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality to voice their important role in climate solutions.
U California Announces 10 Scalable Climate Change Solutions
Out of the recently held UC Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit, the university system's Climate Solutions Group released a report outlining 10 solutions for addressing the challenges of climate change. Called Bending the Curve, the executive summary outlines some details about the solutions although the full report is slated for release in spring 2016 after peer review.
U Tennessee Knoxville Demolitions Coal Smoke Stack
The 310-foot smoke stack, built in 1965, will be taken down this month after a state funded project was completed this summer that provides steam from natural gas. The university stopped burning coal in March 2015 in an effort to implement healthier methods for providing heat to campus, save money and contribute to the beautification of campus and the surrounding community.
Appalachian State U, Western Technical College Earn Climate Leadership Award
Recognizing advanced leadership in climate change mitigation and resilience at college and university campuses, Second Nature's sixth annual Climate Leadership Awards recently named Appalachian State University as a winner in the four-year school category and Western Technical College as a winner in the two-year category.
AASHE Signs Open Letter to COP21 Senior Officers
Supporting its members and the role of higher education, AASHE recently signed onto the open letter to senior government officials of the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) that urges decision-makers to acknowledge and support the vital role that universities and colleges play in addressing climate change and resiliency.
U California System Creates Competition for Carbon Neutrality
The new Cool Campus Challenge encourages students, faculty and staff to help make its campuses and medical centers carbon neutral by 2025 by asking university members to take specific steps, outlined in weekly sustainability themes, that result in lower carbon output. Accumulated points during the competition will reveal the "Coolest UC Campus".
U Edinburgh Launches Climate Change Campaign
(U.K.): In support of the university's climate strategy, the new campaign, Edinburgh Action for the Climate, harnesses the expertise of academics researching climate-related topics to influence and inform the global climate change debate.
The Guardian 'England's Universities are Losing Steam on Climate Change'
(U.K.): A recent analysis by Brite Green indicates more than three-quarters of England's universities are set to miss the 43 percent reduction by 2020, which was set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2010. Institutions state that significant growth in institution estates and student population were taken into account when targets were set.
Loyola U Chicago Makes Carbon Neutral Commitment
During a full day symposium and teach-in on Pope Francis' Encyclical on Ecology on Sept. 9, the university released their climate action plan titled A Just Future that identifies a carbon neutral goal of 2025, and includes resiliency, engagement and accountability strategies.
U Cambridge Launches Sustainability Strategy Including Carbon Reduction Goals
(U.K.): The university's new sustainability strategy calls for a 34 percent reduction in carbon emissions from a 2005 baseline to 2020 and is aiming for carbon-neutral status by 2050. After emissions gradually increased from 2005 to 2010, the university set aside a carbon reduction budget of $2 million pounds ($3.05 million) annually.
400 Pennsylvania Professors Urge Lawmakers to Tackle Climate Change
In response to ongoing debate surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s finalized Clean Power Plan, professors, researchers and lecturers at 29 Pennsylvania universities, as well as Harvard and Georgetown Universities, recently signed a letter emphasizing scientific research on climate change and urging lawmakers to implement a strong state plan that minimizes carbon pollution.
Second Nature Names Climate Leadership Finalists
The sixth annual Climate Leadership Awards resulted in 19 finalists out of nearly 50 applications, seven of which are from two-year institutions and 12 are from four-year schools. The awards are a national competition among higher education institutions that are signatories of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment.
Michigan State U Terminates Coal Use
In early April 2015, as part of its Energy Transition Plan, the university president announced that it will retire its on-campus coal plant by 2016. Although this move results in switching to natural gas, its ultimate goal is to generate 100 percent renewable energy.
Ohio U to Discontinue Coal-Fired Boilers
Located in southeastern Ohio coal-mining country, the university anticipates switching to natural gas fuel by the end of 2015 for steam generation to heat and cool campus buildings.
NY Times: 'A College in Maine That Tackles Climate Change, One Class at a Time'
The New York Times article cites the College of the Atlantic for using project-based learning to engage students outside of the classroom specifically around the issues of climate change and energy. The article says the college "takes an interdisciplinary approach to human ecology, the study of the interaction between people and their social and physical environments."
Florida International U Students Produce Video on Rising Sea Level
The documentary, a compilation of stories that were produced by 33 video production students at the university’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, features first-person narratives that take viewers through the Everglades, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale beach and the Keys where community leaders describe themselves as “the canary in the coal mine” of sea level rise.
Portland State U Initiates Travel Offset Program
The university's voluntary program now allows participating departments offset a fee that amounts to 2 percent of total travel expenses. Those funds are then allocated to the university’s green revolving fund to be spent on efficiency upgrades on campus, which in turn lower our carbon emissions and improve our facilities.
MIT Hosts Fossil Fuel Divestment Debate [Video]
The MIT Climate Change Conversation explored whether MIT should divest its endowment as part of its response to climate change. Six prominent voices in the dialogue on climate change and energy were staged as two teams that present PRO-divestment and AGAINST-divestment arguments in a classic debate format moderated by Tony Cortese, principal of Intentional Endowments Network.
GMR Institute of Tech Imposes Vehicle Restrictions on Campus
(India): In an effort to curb noise and air pollution at the institution, the university recently banned vehicles on campus every Thursday whereby all faculty, staff and students park their motorized vehicles in assigned locations and reach campus by foot.
U Edinburgh Faculty Urge Divestment From Fossil Fuels
(U.K.): Fifty academics from the university have signed an open letter calling for the institution to divest its 230 million pounds ($343.9 million) endowment fund from fossil fuels and the arms trade. The university is expected to make a decision about divestment in April.
Yale U Student Develops Science-Based Tool for Emissions Goals
Based on the question, how much greenhouse gas reduction is enough to prevent humans from crossing a potentially dangerous climate threshold, a student's masters project led to the development of a tool that compares a university's greenhouse gas emissions to a global emissions scenario that is most likely to keep global warming below two degrees centigrade.
ACUPCC Highlights Progress Reports
(U.S.): The American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment spotlights noteworthy accomplishments from recent progress report submissions that are inspiring and progressive in their goal of attaining carbon neutrality. The highlights include projects from Creighton University, Salisbury University and University of California at Los Angeles.
U California Merced Tests Plug That Tracks Electricity Source
The new plug called WattTime, developed through the university's technology research institute, might carry the ability to allow universities to reduce their carbon footprint by tracking the fuel source of the energy being used to charge the carts, solar, natural gas, coal, geothermal or hydroelectric, and determine the cheapest and least environmentally impactful time to charge. WattTime plugs will gather data for a couple of months in the pilot program, and communicate a charging strategy for university facilities to most efficiently charge its electric cart fleet.