Environmental Leadership in Campus Sustainability

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Campus sustainability is an important topic for several reasons:

  1. Higher Education institutions generally have a large environmental footprint, primarily because they are large users of energy to operate their campuses and fulfil their programmatic activities.
  2. Due to their mission and competencies, Higher Education institutions have the capacity and responsibility to lead on climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society. Second Nature, a nonprofit founded to encourage climate action by higher education institutions, established the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2001 due to increasing interest in campus sustainability. However, it wasn’t until the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitments (‘ACUPCC’) in 2006 that many organizations publicly made concerted, objective, quantifiable commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (‘GHG’) emissions. In 2015, Second Nature expanded and rebranded the ACUPCC to form the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments. Today, that network comprises over 600 higher education institutions who have made a commitment to act on climate. At many of these institutions, a formal commitment has been made to reductions in GHG emissions. These commitments are reported through Second Nature’s reporting platform which acts as a central hub for the monitoring and evaluation of progress against these commitments. As part of the agreed protocol for reporting their emissions, institutions use the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (‘GHGP’), a partnership between the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. GHGP establishes a comprehensive, global, standardized framework for measuring and managing emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains, products, cities, and policies. In this report I have focused on five Higher Education institutions which have made objective commitments, and for whom data is available through the Second Nature reporting portal. These include Colgate, Cornell, Duke, Middlebury (College) and New York Universities, all of whom are members of the Carbon Commitment initiative. Additionally, the five were chosen because although they have all made quite meaningful progress against their commitments, they have taken quite different routes to secure their reductions.





Allen, Simon (2019). Environmental Leadership in Campus Sustainability. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18384.

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