Guide helps colleges, universities reduce GHG emissions

Posted on December 7, 2009

[IMAGE]Luther-college-electric-vehicle-full.jpg[/IMAGE]A new book released by Snowmass, Colo.-based environmental nonprofit, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), offers practical tips for colleges and universities on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It features examples of efforts from 12 campuses across the U.S.

The book titled Accelerating Campus Climate Initiatives: Breaking Through Barriers, covers five topics: Climate action planning; buildings and utilities; renewable energy; transportation; and carbon offsets. It is a practical guide for anyone working in a college or university setting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their campus.

It explores the challenges, both real and perceived, to significant reductions, and provides successful examples and resources necessary to address the challenges. The book is available as a free download at:

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.”

The new book was developed in collaboration with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). AASHE’s deep experience with campus leadership complements RMI’s solutions orientation; whole-system analysis; and experience with communities, major corporations and campuses.

The book is the culmination of numerous RMI activities including staff visits where a team of three RMI staff members visited twelve campuses for two days each to directly and more fully understand specific campus climate initiatives and challenges, set the stage for the later workshop and offer campus officials informal feedback.

In August 2008, an RFP was issued through AASHE for campuses that might wish to participate in the RMI visits and workshop. Chosen for diversity of experience, the twelve were:

• Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo.
• Furman University, Greenville, S.C.
• Harford Community College, Bel Air, Md.
• Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland
• Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
• Richland College, Dallas
• Tufts University, Medford, Mass.
• Unity College, Unity, Maine
• University of Minnesota at Morris, Morris, Minn.
• University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.
• University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.
• Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Through an anonymous foundation, RMI also provided each of the participating campuses with a grant to execute carbon reduction programs tailored to that campus. For more information, please visit

During an Innovation Workshop held last June in Denver, a team of eight RMI staff and colleagues convened three representatives each from the twelve campuses, plus AASHE, Second Nature and the National Wildlife Federation to help refine participants’ challenges and solutions and to develop greater clarity on how to overcome barriers.

This book complements climate-related work of several nonprofit organizations:

  • Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • Second Nature
  • American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Clean Air-Cool Planet
  • U.S. Green Building Council
  • National Association of College and University Business Officers
  • Campus Green Builder

RMI is a partner with Campus Green Builder, a part of Second Nature’s Advancing Green Building in higher education initiative.

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