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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

NWF Report: Higher Education in a Warming World

February 7, 2008

New Report Details Best Practices for Taking Climate Action

Examples from more than 100 schools fill the pages of "Higher Education in a Warming World--The Business Case for Climate Leadership on Campus," a report recently released by the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Campus Ecology program. Established in 1989, the program works with college and university campuses (students, faculty, administrators, and managers) to promote sustainability and climate-positive action both on campus and in the surrounding community.

The online report--which highlights the business, educational, and moral arguments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions--features campus initiatives such as:

• The1.6-megawatt wind turbine built by St. Olaf College in Minnesota, which provides 33% of campus electricity and saves more than $250,000 in utility costs annually.
• One of the country’s largest closed-loop geothermal systems, used by Richard Stockton College in New Jersey for heating and cooling. The geothermal system has cut the college’s natural gas consumption by 70% and reduced CO2 emissions 13% below 1990 levels.
• Eight energy efficiency projects undertaken at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These have resulted in annual savings of $365,000, with an average project payback of less than three years.
• The new Bren Hall laboratory at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which earned an LEED-Platinum certification. The laboratory’s energy efficient design saves the campus $50,000 in utility costs and prevents 275 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

The report covers the science of global warming, the opportunities and challenges confronting higher education, and steps required to create a campus climate action plan, as well as dozens of cost-effective, practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions on campus. These include energy efficiency, renewables (wind, solar, geothermal), co-generation, green buildings, transportation alternatives, habitat improvement, and behavior change.

A section on financing shows how schools have funded their climate initiatives through performance contracting, utility and government incentives, student self-assessed fees, revolving loan funds, and other strategies.

To access a copy of the full report and a listing of the schools it features, go to

NWF’s Campus Ecology Partners:
• Energy Action Coalition’s Campus Climate Challenge (
• Clean Air-Cool Planet (
• AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education;
• APPA (Leadership in Educational Facilities;
• SCUP (Society for College and University Planning;