Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Green Economy is Charging

The latest update to the Green Transition Scoreboard shows that the green economy remains strong, even as the broader global economy struggles.  From the CSRwire press release:

Ethical Markets Media, LLC (USA and Brazil), released their 2012 GREEN TRANSITION SCOREBOARD® tracking private sector investments since 2007 in green companies and technologies globally, now totaling more than $3.3 trillion.

The 2012 Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) report finds Asia, Europe and Latin America catching up with the USA in total non-government investments and commitments for all facets of green markets.  2011 ended with a GTS total of $3,306,051,439,680, starting from 2007.  Given the many studies indicating that investing $1 trillion annually until 2020 will accelerate the Green Transition worldwide and the over 100 research reports and articles referenced in this years' update, the "Green Transition Scoreboard® 2012: From Expanding Cleantech Sectors to Emerging Trends in Biomimicry" definitively shows green investments are becoming the norm.
The article also quotes Tim Nash, fellow graduate of the MSLS Program at BTH, who has played a central role in conducting these assessments:

"One example is the recent burst of activity in the M&A space, largely due to companies spending cash they've hoarded since the 2009 credit crunch.  They are finally ready to deploy capital and are expanding into the green space.  In addition to developing R&D in-house, firms like Google, DuPont, and Toshiba are acquiring small and medium-sized cleantech companies."

These are important and encouraging trends.  Many thanks to Ethical Markets for conducting this research.

Stay going.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

5 Years of Climate Leadership: Green Building & the ACUPCC

This post originally published on the USGBC's Center for Green Schools blog
By Georges Dyer
Vice President, Second Nature
This year, the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is celebrating five years of climate leadership. Nearly 700 institutions, representing 6 million students, are implementing plans to promote education, research and community engagement to create a sustainable future.
These schools are also role-modeling solutions through their own campus operations and providing leadership-by-example for other institutions and other sectors, all while delivering important experiential education for their students and working to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.
Green building —in particular retrofitting existing buildings— is particularly important in fulfilling this commitment. ACUPCC institutions agree to take at least two short-term tangible actions, while developing a comprehensive, long-term climate action plan. To date, nearly 500 institutions (77 percent of the network) have chosen the option of establishing a policy that “all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver standard or equivalent.”
Renovations to McDaniel Hall brings this 1967 originally built academic building up to Platinum qualification level that includes providing increased solar gain and cozy lounges to relax in.  
Photo courtesy of Adams State College

In 2012, the early ACUPCC signatories are submitting the first round of progress reports on their climate action plans, providing a wealth of new data on higher education’s leadership in creating a sustainable society. While results are still coming in, 92 institutions report completing 317 green buildings, and 104 institutions report having plans for 285 green buildings within the next two years.
Energy efficiency projects have also been popular, with 113 institutions reporting that they’ve completed a total of 2,691 projects since signing the ACUPCC.
These efforts are helping institutional budgets, with 85 institutions reporting cost-savings (within a range) from climate action related projects that cumulatively add up to $46.8 million to $246.7 million. These activities have also helped institutions bring in new funding, with 71 schools securing $166.4 million in funding from outside sources (an average of $2.3 million per institution).
In January 2011, USF opened the doors to its first LEED Gold building—the Patel Center for Global Solutions, which houses the university’s new School of Global Sustainability among other related departments. Photo courtesy of University of South Florida

As the ACUPCC network looks towards the next five years — a critical five years in avoiding run-away climate change — it will be leveraging the power of the collective initiative to jump-start a sustainable economy by focusing on three areas:
  • Preparedness: Understanding sustainability is required for career preparedness in the 21st century. The ACUPCC provides a framework and catalyst for delivering the curricular and co-curricular education needed to ensure students from all disciplines are sustainability literate. 
  • Opportunity: Increasing access to and affordability of higher education is a major goal for the sector. The ACUPCC generates cost savings and new funding sources that better enable schools to reduce tuition costs and increase access.
  • Innovation: Campuses are cradles of innovation through research, experimentation, and role-modeling solutions in operations. ACUPCC schools are putting cutting-edge design practices and technologies to work in the areas of energy efficiency, green building, water conservation, food services, transportation, renewable energy, and more. They are creating community partnerships to implement sustainable solutions beyond their campus boundary and engage students in experiential service learning.
Higher education’s leadership is necessary to reinvigorate our economy, and create a sustainable future. Retrofitting campus buildings and infrastructure to create a built environment that is healthy, efficient and sustainable will show what is possible, while preparing students to lead the rest of society in the same direction.
Stay going. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Greening the Desert

This video is a great example of the power of smart permaculture design to restore ecosystems.  The first 5 minutes or so are from the original; the rest is an update.  Definitely watch the first 5 minutes, it's amazing:

Permaculture is a going to continue to be increasingly important in creating food systems that don't contribute to climate change, soil degradation, ecosystem destruction, food price spikes, and other sustainability issues, and are also resilient in the face of climate change impacts that threaten our current food systems.

And it's something that everyone can (and should!) do in their backyard, balcony, windowsill...  Learn more at the links here.

Stay going.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Climate Hawks & #HR3242

On Wednesday, four climate hawks in the Senate made a solid push to bring this critical and urgent issue into focus for our nation's lawmakers.

Senators Sanders, Udall, Whitehouse, and Franken got right to the heart of the matter and confronted the special interests that are being so successful in making it look like there's confusion about the science - just enough to ensure the status quo.

See the highlights in this video:

In light of the "deniergate" scandal that broke this week, it's heartening to see some in Congress trying to bring climate solutions to the fore.

Other positive, exciting news from DC is the introduction of HR 3242 - the "Save Our Climate Act" - which puts a price on carbon, and uses revenues to go toward deficit reduction and dividends for the public -- starting $160 per person and rising to $1,170 per person.

Learn more about the bill here and click here to quickly and easily voice your support for it to your representatives.

Stay going.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Data Quantifies Sustainability Leadership of Colleges & Universities

Feb. 16, 2012 - The American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an agreement between nearly 700 colleges and universities to promote sustainability through teaching and action, today released new data on the positive environmental impact of colleges and universities across the country in reducing their carbon footprints.

Among the findings:
  • The 599 colleges that submitted greenhouse gas inventories reported CO2 emissions of 28m metric tons, roughly as much as 2.58m homes or 5.2m passenger vehicles emit annually
  • 306 institutions set a target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 or before; 93 pledged neutrality by 2030
  • Collectively, the ACUPCC network has purchased more than 1.28 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy credits (RECs), making it the third-largest buyer in the country

Avoiding catastrophic climate change will require transforming our economy, our institutions, our daily lives within a generation.  Only higher education has the influence, the critical mass and the diversity of skills needed to do this.

John Olson, associate professor at Villanova University, an ACUPCC signatory, explained the value it derives from the network.

"The fact that Villanova is a signatory of the ACUPCC has helped focus our efforts in many ways. It has prompted us to collect data that are crucial to monitoring our progress. It has also forced us to set milestones for achieving specific and concrete goals and serves as a touchstone for developing academic programs on campus. Finally, the pledge we made when signing the Commitment has allowed us to join the broader coalition of institutions that have similarly committed to climate neutrality and sustainability; such collaboration is energizing."

The ACUPCC has fundamentally shifted higher education's attention on sustainability from a series of excellent but distinct programs to a strategic imperative of presidents, academic officers, business officers and trustees - becoming a key lens for measuring success. It represents a cultural shift to focus on all aspects of social, economic and ecological sustainability.

"This wealth of data speaks to the enormous commitment and impact our member colleges have made," said Dr. Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the ACUPCC.  "The ACUPCC truly is an example of courageous leadership by college and university leaders. This is the first major U.S. Sector to commit to climate neutrality and the first time since WWII that higher education in the US has collectively stepped forward to take on a major societal challenge without waiting for some external entity to request it or fund them."

ACUPCC data shows that signatory schools have secured on average $2,343,787 from outside sources to support efforts related to the Climate Action Plan.

The data is publicly available on the ACUPCC's online reporting system - - a platform that enables schools to quantify the sustainability activity that is taking place on their campuses, and hold themselves accountable by sharing their progress in a transparent way.

The full data set addresses current emissions levels, target dates for emissions reductions and climate neutrality, sustainability-related courses, degrees, and research initiatives, sources of funding, projects recently completed, and a wealth of other newsworthy information. The data is available in a variety of formats; contact Ulli Klein for more information. 

About the ACUPCC 
The ACUPCC is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments from college and universities to accelerate the education, research and community engagement to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate, and eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations.

About Second Nature
Second Nature works to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society by transforming higher education. Second Nature is the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, a growing network of over 675 signatory higher education institutions in all fifty states that have made a public commitment to transform the educational experience for all students so they are prepared to solve the climate crisis.

Learn more at:

Stay going.