It has been a while since I have written about APUS’ green initiatives but after spending several days at the Education Innovation Summit at Arizona State University’s SkySong Center, I was inspired to provide an update. ASU is a founding signer of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and the school’s President, Michael Crow, has made sustainability a priority for ASU.
American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment
In September 2007, American Public University System (APUS) signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) as a charter signatory. There are now more than 600 signatories to the commitment. Each institution is required to complete and submit a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory within one year of signing the commitment (click here to view APUS’ GHG Emissions Inventory) and within two years of signing, signatories are required to complete and submit a Climate Action Plan (CAP).
Last month, I posted an article about APUS’ groundbreaking ceremony at the site on which we will build a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified building. Wes Holmes, an APUS student pursuing a Masters of Environmental Policy and Management, requested to do a project to document the construction of the building. To that end, he has established a blog under the guidance of his Program Director, Dr.
Earlier this year, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) released a publication called Boldly Sustainable: Hope and Opportunity for Higher Education in the Age of Climate Change. Written by Peter Bardaglio, senior fellow at Second Nature, and Andrea Putnam, Director of Sustainability Financing at Second Nature, the book provides a compelling argument for colleges and universities to fully explore the opportunities and business implications of pursuing sustainable business models and integrating the topic of sustainability as a core component of student curriculums.
Sustainability has become an increasingly discussed topic in the United States, particularly with the initiatives proposed by the Obama Administration. During his campaign for the White House, President Obama made it clear that sustainable initiatives would be one of his top priorities. His assertion that the development of his “green economy” would create 5 million jobs has been debated by analysts of varying persuasions (see my recent blog article for a more thorough discussion of this debate) but nonetheless speaks to his belief that America cannot continue indefinitely with the practices of the past.
From the earliest days of the most recent presidential election, President Obama made it clear that one of his highest priorities if elected would be addressing climate change, energy consumption and the economy. It seems that within the first several months of taking office, President Obama has remained dedicated to those priorities. More recently, he maintains that he has found a single solution that will address all three problems: the development of a “green economy.”
The green economy, according to the Administration, will “invest in alternative and renewable energy, end our addiction to foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create millions [five million, to be exact] of new jobs.” President Obama has stated his intention to invest $150 billion over the next ten years in efforts meant to encourage private efforts to establish and use clean energy.
Today is Earth Day and as the urgency of the climate change problem looms heavily over the entire world, it is a day that should not go without notice. This year’s Earth Day represents the beginning of a two-year initiative called the Green Generation Campaign. The campaign was established in the same spirit as the “Greatest Generation” that met the challenges facing the world in the years during and following the conclusion of World War II; individuals working together to create meaningful change in the fight to slow and halt climate change.
I attended The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual Executive Leadership Forum in Washington, DC and had the opportunity to listen to a panel discussing the pros and cons of signing the Presidents Climate Commitment. David Oxtoby, President of Pomona College and former Dean of Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago, made a point which was similar to my thinking that he had some reservations about his and any institution’s ability to achieve carbon neutrality but thought that the process of examining efforts and pledging a commitment was important.
When I was contacted about joining the Presidents Climate Commitment, I thought it was a great idea. For a number of years, we have offered a B.S. degree in Environmental Science and an M.S. degree in Environmental Policy and Management. Putting some of the theory that we teach into practice would be an interesting endeavor. I wasn’t sure that an online university would be able to generate the same impact on global warming that a land-based institution could, so I asked our Director of Facilities to review the Commitment document to determine if we would be able to comply with the guidelines.