Second Nature is advancing green building in higher education, by focusing on some of the challenges faced by under-resourced colleges and universities to ‘build green’ on their campuses. With a $1,242,000 three-year grant from the Kresge Foundation, Second Nature is helping under-resourced schools learn about and use the financial and technical resources available to construct and renovate campus buildings in ways that save money, reduce environmental and health impacts, serve as educational tools, and increase student enrollment.
The built environment accounts for an estimated 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, a major contributor to global climate disruption. Given the environmental and health problems exacerbated by the construction and use of campus buildings, hundreds of institutions of higher learning are building high-performance, healthy facilities that reduce or eliminate harmful emissions and waste and increase quality of life and productivity for their occupants. However, many public universities, religious, community, and technical colleges, and institutions that serve financially disadvantaged and minority students have fewer resources to spend on bricks and mortar projects, less in-house knowledge about green building, and a limited opportunity to learn from similar schools that have excelled in green building. Many are unaware that green building will result in 10-20% annual energy savings over the long-term.
Second Nature’s work through its Advancing Green Building program showed that there are significant opportunities for cost savings and new funding opportunities for institutions that take a proactive leadership
role in pursuing sustainability. Participating institutions expect to save an estimated $5.4 million and secure $2.8 million as a result of program-related activities. US higher education generates 3 million graduates each year, going on to make choices that guide and shape our society and economy. Their formal education is a crucial part of the solution to climate change and other sustainability challenges.
Under-resourced schools represent 31% of the US institutions of higher learning and they account for one-third of the student population. If they don’t keep pace, they will become further marginalized within the system. Moreover, these institutions often serve at-risk populations who have the most to lose from the impact of climate disruption. They also have a wealth of experience in leading change through civil rights and social justice movements, and they have the most to gain from creating resilient communities and a sustainable society. With some strategic assistance they have much to contribute to these efforts. We believe that without their active participation and leadership, we will not be able to create a sustainable future as a society.
Second Nature is a Boston-based nonprofit organization that works to accelerate movement towards a sustainable future by helping senior college and university leaders in making healthy, just, and sustainable living the foundation of all learning and practice in higher education. Second Nature is the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which has been signed by more than 675 college and university presidents whoa re committed to eliminating carbon emission on campus and training students to help society address the climate crisis.
For more information about Second Nature’s programs click here.
Second Nature’s Education for Sustainability Innovation Program
Second Nature’s Financing Sustainability on Campus Book
Queens College Residence has a LEED Gold Rating
Green Roofs on College Campuses Around the World
The Green School’s Bamboo Architecture
The UK’s Sandal Magna Community Primary School
Princeton is Building the Largest Solar Array of Any University
Solar Powered Schools In California
Bill Increases Energy Efficiency in Oregon’s Schools
NYU’s Energy Efficient Power Generation
Mississippi State University has the first LEED® Certified Chapter House in the US
Suffolk University’s Green Efforts Include Building Design
University of Maryland Wins Solar Decathlon
Inhabitat Interview with the Winning Lead Designer of the 2011 Solar Decathlon
Coca-Cola’s Solar Rebuilding in Japanese Schools
New York’s Leed Certified Universities
Green School Rejuvenates Dying Town
NYC Public School’s Green Initiatives
LAUSD Green School Initiatives
Da Vinci Arts Middle School in Portland
The University of Hong Kong’s Sustainable Development
China Europe International Business School’s Green Campus
China Turns to International Community on Green Buildings
International Community Schools China on Green Buildings