by Ilana Schoenfeld, Program Associate, Second Nature

Last week, Steve Muzzy and I attended an event hosted by E2/NRDC called “And A Child Shall Lead Us: How Students and Universities Are Leading on Climate Change.”

E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national community of business leaders and professionals committed to protecting the environment in ways that build economic prosperity. NRDC’s policy and science experts work in partnership with E2 to identify critical environmental issues, key players, and strategic actions. Members of E2 are called upon to work with public officials to influence state and national policy—leveraging their business expertise to highlight the economic benefits of environmental policies.

We were thrilled to hear the work of the ACUPCC highlighted at this event. The speakers at the event included:

  • John Cusack – Executive Director of the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS)
  • Rob Pratt – Founder, Chairman and CEO of EnergyClimate Solutions(ECS)
  • Heather Henriksen – Director of the Office for Sustainability at Harvard University

John Cusack’s presentation revolved around ways that higher education could help in the climate change battle. He discussed the ACUPCC as an effective means to obtaining commitments to reduce carbon emissions; and AASHE’s sustainability metrics as an important part of the solution. He also stressed the importance of making clear to institutions of higher education and corporations that their management of climate change issues are increasingly being used by stakeholders (including investors) as indicators of good business management, talent recruitment, and their future performance.

Rob Pratt’s presentation also discussed the ACUPCC, and how his company, Energy Climate Solutions, works with college and university presidents to become climate leaders (taking LEED buildings to higher levels of performance; helping them to work on climate action plans to significantly reduce carbon emissions).

Heather Henriksen’s presentation provided an in-depth look at Harvard’s campus-wide sustainability initiatives/successes. She discussed the necessity of integrating sustainability at every level with Harvard’s core mission of research and teaching. She also emphasized the importance of accurate measurement tools and metrics. Finally, she discussed Harvard’s Green Campus Loan Fund, a $12 million revolving loan fund that provides up-front capital for projects that reduce Harvard’s environmental impact. Projects pay back the loan from their savings within five years.