Free Guide Offers Practical Advice for Reducing Campus Emissions
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Colleges and universities that want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions face a huge number of challenges and barriers, from a lack of faculty and staff engagement to the difficulty of retrofitting historic buildings, from insufficient in-house expertise to campus leaders distrustful of carbon credit markets. To address those challenges, Rocky Mountain Institute has released a free 121-page PDF guide, titled "Accelerating Campus Climate Initiatives: Breaking Through Barriers."
Developed in collaboration with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and based on the experiences of a dozen schools--including Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Furman University in Greenville, SC, and Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, WI--the guide is intended to provide practical advice for solving specific problems. It addresses five broad topics: climate action planning, buildings and utilities, renewable energy, transportation, and carbon offsets.
Between October 2008 and February 2009 a team of RMI staff visited the 12 campuses for two days each to directly understand specific campus climate initiatives and challenges, set the stage for a later workshop, and provide campus officials with informal feedback. In June 2009 the Institute met with representatives from each of the campuses, as well as from AASHE; Second Nature, a non-profit focused on helping higher education facilities develop sustainable operations; and the National Wildlife Federation, a conservation organization. The workshop was intended to help refine participants' challenges and solutions and develop greater clarity on how to overcome barriers.
According to RMI senior consultant Michael Kinsley, who led the collaborative project, "people who commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions want action on their campus, and soon. This book goes beyond a focus on best practices or individual projects to help readers solve problems based upon a different way of thinking about buildings, utilities, institutional programs, and all the other components of a campus energy system."
Through an anonymous foundation, the Institute also provided each of the participating campuses with a grant to execute carbon reduction programs tailored to that campus. Rocky Mountain Institute is a non-profit working on projects that help organizations reduce energy use and make the transition to renewable energy.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.