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Sep 172009

By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now

The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which began in 2007, is a network of 650 signatory schools dedicated to making an environmental impact. The US schools commit to becoming climate neutral and integrating environmental education into their curricula, and sign a pledge to submit a Climate Action Plan within two years.

On Sept. 15, the  first deadline for the organization’s original members, 87 ACUPCC colleges and universities announced their CliACUPCCmate Action Plans, representing the largest group to simultaneously commit to concrete activities that address global warming.

The plans list specific steps schools are taking to reach climate neutrality by drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and operations costs.

Schools are already noticing that in saving energy, they also are saving significant money, organizers say.

Most schools also are incorporating curriculum changes to prepare students to meet the massive challenge of climate issues upon graduation.

The Climate Action Plans submitted also show that universities are making a significant shift toward using renewable energy sources.

For instance:

  • Ball State University will cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 50% through the installation of a campus-wide geothermal district heating and cooling system.
  • The University of New Hampshire will generate up to 85% of the energy used by the campus from the EcoLine™ project, a landfill methane gas-to-energy initiative.
  • At Green Mountain College, a new heat and power biomass facility is predicted to shift 85% of current fuel oil usage to sustainable-sourced biomass.

“Climate Action Plans are an important step in a long-term collective learning process that will help prepare Americans to participate in a 21st Century economy and a sustainable society,” said Toni Nelson, Program Director of the ACUPCC.

The vast majority of schools submitting Climate Action Plans have already submitted their greenhouse gas inventories, the first step to determining and reducing their carbon footprint.

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