Monday, February 8, 2010

Higher Education Institutions Lead the Sustainability Charge

EcoAsset Solutions was recently hired by Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida to lead the higher education institution on a path towards climate neutrality.  EcoAsset Solutions will be developing a baseline greenhouse gas inventory of campus facilities and operations, a geospatial database that will manage Valencia’s data, and a Climate Action Plan that will incorporate stakeholder input from college staff, faculty and students, set emissions reduction targets, and provide a detailed strategy for Valencia to meet its targets. See press release

Valencia Community College is one of 667 signatories of the American College and University Presidential Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).  These 667 institutions have made a commitment to inventory their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and develop a Climate Action Plan that will guide them to climate neutrality.  ACUPCC has concrete deadlines to execute the GHG inventory and Climate Action Plan and all of the reports are made available online.  This system not only provides transparency, but also permits higher education institutions to easily share best practices.  The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Eductation (AASHE) is another great resource and plays a valuable role in getting the word out about different institutions' sustainability efforts.

There are many incentives for higher education institutions to sign onto ACUPCC and begin to develop a sustainability plan.  I have highlighted four below:
1) Cost Savings: The GHG inventory and Climate Action Plan are an efficient manner to identify projects that have a high ROI and can save your institution money.
2) Education: Education is the priority of all higher education institutions.  The ACUPCC process offers a great opportunity to educate students and staff and participate in the process.  Ultimately, the lessons that are learned can be transferred to the greater community.
3) Competitive Advantage: A commitment to sustainability is becoming part of the reputation of universities and colleges.  If your goal is attract the best students and professors to your university or college, addressing sustainability should be on your mind. 
4) Grant funding: There are a growing number of grant opportunities for sustainability projects and research.  Demonstrating your campus' commitment to sustainability will likely enhance your chance of securing more funds.

All of these benefits really can apply to any organization.  So whether you are a nonprofit, business, college or government institution, you can have a good reason to start down the path to sustainability.

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