November 21, 2014
Posted in: Why We Work

by Amanda Carpenter, Program Associate, Second Nature

My passion for sustainability started, oddly enough, with a fascination with the weather. As a kid, hearing the severe weather warning tone on the television was as close to Christmas as I could get in the late spring. The warning would go off announcing the advent of a severe storm or flash flood warning, and I would be glued to the TV hoping that the announcement would mean that something cool was about to happen.

One such occasion interrupted a family barbecue on the last day of May. The forecast that morning had said that there was a high likelihood that there would be severe thunderstorms in the late afternoon, and you could definitely feel it stepping outside. The air was hot and humid, sitting heavily as the fog rolled in that early evening, and draining the motivation out of everything it touched. Around 4PM the severe weather warning started across the TV screen accompanied by a warning I had never heard before: Tornado Warning for Eastern New York.

 

Read more
October 24, 2014

by Kate Gordon, Executive Director, Risky Business Project

I grew up in and around universities. As the child of a law professor, I spent time in Buffalo, NY, Madison, WI, and Palo Alto, CA, often doing my homework at the back of lecture halls and empty classrooms. Ultimately I ended up at Wesleyan for my B.A., and then at UC Berkeley for joint degrees in law and city planning, paving the way for my current work on energy and climate policy.

Even with all this exposure to academia, I only fully grasped the role that universities can play in fighting climate change a few weeks ago, when I was lucky enough to spend a day at the annual conference of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment. I was there to talk about the Risky Business Project, an initiative co-chaired by former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and long-time investor and climate activist Tom Steyer. The project takes a classic business risk assessment approach to climate change and identifies specific risks facing each region of the U.S. in three major sectors: energy demand, coastal infrastructure, and commodity agriculture. Our research also identified significant impacts on mortality rates and labor productivity from global temperature increases.

Read more
October 23, 2014

by Timothy Carter, President, Second Nature

One month ago I began a new chapter in my career, accepting the challenging and thrilling opportunity to join Second Nature as its third president. As someone working on environmental issues in higher education for the past 13 years, I have been aware of the rich legacy and commitment of the organization to lead and accelerate bold commitments to sustainability in higher education that transform society.

The network generated by the ACUPCC is arguably the strongest collection of presidential leadership in higher education relating to sustainability anywhere in the world. Since 2007, these leaders gather regularly at the Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership to hear from expert speakers, share experiences with each other, and discuss the sustainability issues that are most pressing on their campuses. This conference has ranged in scope, size, and focus throughout the years but every Summit has had at its core a commitment to serve the members of the network in the best ways possible. On October 1-3, 2014 we held the seventh of these summits in Boston, and we are incredibly grateful for the time the more than 300 participants took to meaningfully engage with content and each other.

Read more
August 21, 2014
Posted in: Why We Work

by Karolina Kenney, Summer Intern, Second Nature

(This post is part of a series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

When it comes to the environment, my life has been made up of singular moments of clarity where I have realized where I fit in the world of sustainability. Throughout my whole life, I have run into views towards nature that have baffled me, but learning how to battle those who “don’t care” or “don’t have the time” for the environment is what has fueled my fervor for creating a stable future.

When I was little growing up in Boulder, CO I was surrounded by nature and a community that was very environmentally conscious. So much so, that my dream job when I was in elementary school was not to be a princess, but a “Skip” bus driver and the anthem of my childhood was called “When I Grow Up” by Leftover Salmon. Here is a taste of the lyrics:

“When I grow up I want to work at Alfalfa’s. Where the cheese is dairy free. A birkenstocks, spandex, necktie, patchouli grocery store. I’ll have a job, picking through the produce – no pesticides for me! I’ll be a working modern income socially conscience Boulder hippie,” 

Read more
August 21, 2014
Posted in: Why We Work

by Peter Janetos, Summer Intern, Second Nature

(This post is part of a series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

Having a father who was knowledgeable about sustainability and global climate change never really mattered to me until later in life. It wasn’t until early high school when global warming and serious environmental impacts really got my attention. I took a class my senior year of high school called Environmental Systems; in retrospect probably the most important class I took in high school, and really opened my eyes to global climate change. After the school day was over my head would be buzzing with questions off of topics we discussed in class, and who better to ask than my own father. My questions would deviate off onto other questions and before I could blink we would be having a full-blown conversation starting with GHG emissions ending with politics and our ailing economy. This continued well into college.

Majoring in “the hard sciences” never appealed to me but nonetheless the issues of global climate catastrophes lingered in the back of my mind. I decided to major in Communication because I thought I’d be good at it, with a minor in Kinesiology because it only made sense to me that I take some type of sports related classes. As I went through the first half of my college career, questions would still keep popping into my head about not only climate change but life choices, patterns I never noticed before, people, jobs, my future, and I knew just who to ask. I’m fortunate to have the smartest man I know be my own father and that is really something I shouldn’t be taking for granted but at the same time I do because I’ve grown such accustomed to his knowledge and help.

Read more
August 6, 2014

After being the first President to sign the ACUPCC while at College of the Atlantic, Chairing on Second Nature's Board of Directors, and serving two years as President of Second Nature, David Hales officially retires from Second Nature today. 

David has overseen many positive changes while at Second Nature and for the ACUPCC during his service. He is clearly among the most dedicated to the mission of creating a sustainable society by transforming higher education - from implementing climate leadership on his own campus to leading the national organization that supports the ACUPCC network. 

David's letter to the network is copied below.

Read more
July 17, 2014

by Janna Cohen-Rosenthal

Shifting power supply to renewable energy is a crucial strategy towards achieving climate neutrality. Generating significant quantities of renewable energy on a campus may not be feasible, especially in urban settings. Supporting offsite projects is an effective, but less common, solution. It is exciting to see the Washington DC-based schools and ACUPCC signatories, American University (AU) and George Washington University (GW) take leadership and support a large offsite solar energy project. The institutions joined together with George Washington University Hospital to form The Capital Partners Solar Project, which was announced early this summer.

The project will be the largest non-utility solar photovoltaic power purchase agreement in the United States in total megawatt hours contracted. It is being constructed by Duke Energy Renewables on land in North Carolina. Once completed in 2015, the solar panels will generate 123 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, estimated to be the equivalent of powering 8,200 homes.

 

Read more
June 9, 2014

Chevrolet recently announced it is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of U.S. colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. Chevrolet helped develop a new carbon credit methodology with clean energy efficiency stakeholders so that campuses can earn money for certain upgrades that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As carbon emissions continue to contribute to the warming of the earth, such funding enables universities to reduce their impact and save money on utility bills while engaging and educating students in their efforts.

ACUPCC campuses are increasingly pursuing aggressive clean energy efficiency efforts from installing more efficient building equipment to using renewable energy to help power operations. With this initiative, Chevrolet will buy and retire carbon credits resulting from some campuses’ greenhouse gas reductions from either their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings or other campus-wide energy-saving initiatives.

Read more
May 15, 2014

Creating an Intentionally Designed Endowment

Leaders from nearly 100 organizations gather to discuss strategies to reduce risk and increase returns while aligning endowment portfolio investing practices with organizational mission.

Over the past fifteen years, sustainability has increasingly become a strategic imperative for all organizations.  On a crowded planet with complex challenges ranging from resource scarcity to climate change and income inequality to political unrest, there are a myriad of risks and opportunities that affect all aspects of an entity’s activities.  Increasingly, endowed tax-exempt organizations are realizing that these dynamics extend to their investment portfolios.

On April 3-4, 2014, Second Nature and Hampshire College convened a group of high-level stakeholders to explore a wide variety of approaches to aligning higher education and foundation endowment investment portfolios with their institutional mission and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.  The report from the Intentionally Designed Endowment conference is now available.  It captures the event outcomes and opportunities for moving forward:

Moving Forward: Advancing the Intentionally Designed Endowment

Read more
May 6, 2014

Today, the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) report was released in Washington DC and will be followed by a White House event this afternoon.

The report has been in production for several years and represents the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment ever produced of climate science, impacts (now and in the future), and options for the U.S.  This remarkable effort is the work of 60 members of a Federal Advisory Committee, 240 authors, and hundreds of reviewers – all representing expertise from government, academia, NGOs, and business. The report covers 8 regions of the U.S. as well as sectors such as transportation, energy, water, and many more critical areas of the U.S. economy.  

The full report as well as highlights documents can be found at http://nca2014.globalchange.gov

The report illustrates that climate impacts are being felt across all areas of the U.S. and are increasingly evident in the present. Impacts are expected to increase in the future. Many Americans are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and are considering how to respond. While some progress is being made with respect to reducing the causes of change (mitigation) as well as reducing the vulnerability of society to impacts (adaptation), the NCA indicates that there is much more work to be done - progress so far has been largely incremental. In addition to capturing the potential severity of climate impacts, the report highlights both the need and the opportunity of addressing climate change.

Read more

Pages