University of New Hampshire

Student Preparedness

UNH is home to the highly competitive, national Sustainability Fellows Program. This program provides experiential learning opportunities for university students and recent graduates over the summer. Students are paired with leading community partners—local governments, nonprofits, businesses and campuses—across the U.S. to take the lead on emissions reduction and climate adaptation projects that will have immediate local impact, remove barriers, and create new and effective models for change.

UNH is also home to a number of academic programs that help prepare students for climate change and use the Climate Leadership Commitments as educational tools. For example, UNH’s newly-launched Sustainability Dual Major for undergraduates provides an innovative pathway for emerging leaders to gain the skills and knowledge needed to be agents of change in a complex, ever-changing global environment. It differs from more traditional sustainability programs by virtue of its trans-disciplinary focus and its emphasis on experiential learning. Students from any UNH college or major can pair the Sustainability Dual Major with their first major and through dual major required courses and electives, learn to analyze, evaluate, critique, and create new ideas and models around sustainability.

Climate Innovation

UNH plays a key role in the NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup (CAW). This group, co-founded by a number of UNH faculty in partnership with NH officials and community leaders, brings together regional, state, and federal agencies, businesses, municipalities, academics, and NGOs to discuss climate change challenges and collaboratively develop and implement effective coastal adaptation strategies. Indicators of success include: 12 coastal communities have improved their technical, financial, and human resources for climate adaptation; 80% of the 300 participants in the eleven CAW ‘Water, Weather, Climate, and Community Workshops’ have increased knowledge, motivation, and capacity to address climate adaptation; $3 million in grants to help communities with climate adaptation; winner of the 2015 EPA Region 1 Environmental Merit Award; and ongoing support for community-led adaptation efforts. In addition, the NH Climate Summit attracts over 100 participants each year, over 90% whom attest to the applicability of what they learn there. CAW also plays a central role in the Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission (established by the state legislature in 2013) to help communities and businesses in New Hampshire prepare for the impacts of rising seas and coastal storms.

Creating Opportunity

80-90% of UNH purchased energy comes renewable energy sources. UNH produces 85% of its own energy through its innovative cogeneration (COGEN) plant & ECOLine. COGEN retains waste heat normally lost during the production of electricity and instead uses this energy to heat buildings, in turn reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. UNH worked extensively with Waste Management of New Hampshire to launch ECOLine, which pipes methane gas instead of commercial natural gas to the COGEN plant to power the campus.

Over the past year, UNH has also begun partnering with existing and/or new local hydroelectric stations for purchased energy; this investment has helped small dam owners to “bring back” or expand production with existing local resources. As part of this effort to expand procurement of renewable energy, members of the UNH Energy Task Force have advocated for stronger state policies to support renewable energy (i.e., an increase in the existing “cap” on net metering) using the UNH experience as a demonstration of investment in, and support for, clean energy solutions that take advantage of local resources and promote economic and job growth in the state.