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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Presidents Promise to Protect the Environment

June 26, 2007

On June 11-12, the leaders of nearly 70 colleges and universities gathered in Washington, DC, for the public launch of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a high visibility effort to make campuses more sustainable and to ultimately neutralize greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Leadership Summit publicly introduced the program which, to date, has gathered signatures from more than 300 presidents. By signing the commitment, the leaders promise to protect the environment as well as the health of their institutions, fulfill their responsibility as civic leaders, and train their students in the careers of the future.

Specifically, the pledge requires institutions to:

1. Initiate the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.

a. Within two months of signing this document, create institutional structures to guide the development and implementation of the plan.
b. Within one year of signing this document, complete a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions (including emissions from electricity, heating, commuting, and air travel) and update the inventory every other year thereafter.
c. Within two years of signing this document, develop an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral, which will include:

i. A target date for achieving climate neutrality as soon as possible.
ii. Interim targets for goals and actions that will lead to climate neutrality.
iii. Actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students.
iv. Actions to expand research or other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality.
v. Mechanisms for tracking progress on goals and actions.

2. Initiate two or more of the following tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gases while the more comprehensive plan is being developed.

a. Establish a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standard or equivalent.
b. Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.
c. Establish a policy of offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions generated by air travel paid for by our institution.
d. Encourage use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors at our institution
e. Within one year of signing this document, begin purchasing or producing at least 15% of our institution’s electricity consumption from renewable sources.
f. Establish a policy or a committee that supports climate and sustainability shareholder proposals at companies where our institution’s endowment is invested.
g. Participate in the Waste Minimization component of the RecycleMania competition, and adopt 3 or more associated measures to reduce waste.

3. Make the action plan, inventory, and periodic progress reports publicly available by providing them to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for posting and dissemination.

Visit the ACUPCC website for the full text of the pledge, a program overview, the list of signatories, and other resources.

The Climate Commitment aims to catalyze a broad, continuous higher education effort on climate change, based on the belief that institutions of higher education are uniquely positioned to model sustainability in both teaching and practice. By September 2007, an Implementation Advisory Committee will issue guidance and resources in the form of an handbook. NACUBO will keep members informed about the progress of the initiative.

NACUBO Contact: Michele Madia, 202.861.2554