Second Nature’s Climate Luminary Honors is a new recognition program to elevate higher education institutions that are active members of Second Nature. These institutions are engaged in impactful climate action work on their campus and local communities.

The application period opens Monday, February 12, 2024
and closes on Monday, September 30, 2024.

Winners will be selected in December 2024 and publicly recognized
at the 2025 Climate Leadership Summit.

The program will recognize various climate solutions, from effective decarbonization projects to impactful climate justice initiatives. By elevating diverse types of campuses leading on a full range of climate action, it aims to distribute recognition of climate solutions more equitably and holistically.

It is open to all types of institutions, including community and technical colleges, smaller four-year schools, and institutions strongly connecting with their surrounding communities, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Climate Luminary Honors will be given in five categories of climate action (please see the FAQs below for details).

Application Process

The application period opens Monday, February 12, 2024, and closes Monday, September 30, 2024. The Climate Luminary Honors program uses a self-nomination model. Please carefully review the Frequently Asked Questions below and submit your application using this link.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of being honored with a Climate Luminary Honor?

Selected honorees will receive public recognition at the 2025 Climate Leadership Summit. Their climate action will be shared with Second Nature’s network via various communications channels, including emails to over 4,000 subscribers, social media, and the Second Nature website.

Each honoree will receive a cash prize and/or in-kind support for their ongoing leadership activities.

How do I know if our climate action project is eligible for Climate Luminary Honors?

Your institution must be an active member of Second Nature, including signatories to the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments, members of the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), and Affiliate Members. For more information on Second Nature membership, please contact Steve Muzzy.

Additionally, to be most successful, you need to demonstrate that your climate action project:

  • is currently active or was completed in the past three years
  • involves more than one stakeholder (on or off campus)
  • shows measurable impact
  • took a risk, broke convention, and/or is on the leading edge
  • leveraged limited resources to execute
  • is translatable outside of your specific instance

What is the application process?

The application period opens Monday, February 12, 2024, and closes Monday, September 30, 2024. The Climate Luminary Honors program uses a self-nomination model. Please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and submit your application using this link.

Can I submit a video or digital story as part of my application?

Yes! Submissions can include an optional  “digital story” that showcases the project entry. Digital stories about your project are highly recommended as they give application reviewers a great visual overview of your climate action work. All digital stories must be submitted via a YouTube or web page link. Videos must not exceed two minutes in length. If you do not have a digital story ready at the time of application submission, submit it to [email protected] no later than 9/30/2024 with the subject line: “CLH digital story – Your Institution Name.”

What are the five (5) categories of climate action that the Climate Luminary Honors program will recognize, and can I apply to more than one category?

Yes, submissions can be in one or more of the following five categories of climate action. However, an institution can only receive one award.


The path to campus decarbonization includes technical solutions and coordinated planning across the institution. Submitted projects must show that they have made tangible decarbonization efforts. Examples include:

  • Technical Solutions: Integration of renewable energy, wide-scale energy efficiency, energy systems transformation, etc.
  • Emissions Reductions: Significant emissions reductions demonstrated in the past couple of years
  • Increased Ambition: Targets have been updated to be more rigorous and communicated to the campus
  • Inclusive Governance: Broad involvement in climate action planning
  • Educational Integration: Curricular involvement in decarbonization efforts


The project demonstrated that their campus has integrated justice into campus climate action plans or projects in transformative ways. Examples include:

  • Justice Prioritization in Campus Planning: Racial, social, and disability justice planning is integrated into campus plans and real-world project implementation, highlighting such planning considerations.
  • Empowerment: Collaboration with non-campus groups and organizations with an environmental justice focus; advances leadership roles for those disproportionately impacted by climate change and/or centers their voices.
  • Transdisciplinary/intersectional justice: The campus is engaged in transformational work with internal or external populations to support equity and justice.
  • Student support: To what extent does the campus support student success (health, curriculum, workshops, training, research, organizations and clubs, demands, etc., and student leadership?


The project demonstrates the campus has collaboratively engaged with local communities and government to address environmental challenges. This may include outreach programs, community-based projects, and partnerships with local organizations. Examples include:

  • Community Resilience Initiatives: Programs that build the resilience of local communities to climate change impacts. Projects could focus on disaster preparedness, climate education, or sustainable resource management.
  • Community partnerships: The institution engages with the community through meaningful partnership and support of justice priorities
  • Sustainability Events: Community events focused on sustainability, such as eco-fairs, environmental workshops, or renewable energy expos, that foster awareness and action on climate issues.
  • Climate Advocacy Partnerships: Partnerships with local environmental organizations to advocate for climate-friendly policies and initiatives within the community.


Projects that foster a skilled workforce ready to tackle climate-related challenges. This includes promoting sustainability-focused curricula, research, and career development opportunities. Examples include:

  • Sustainability Innovation: Projects that develop replicable and scalable green technologies, practices, or policies.
  • Climate Career Fairs: Career fairs where companies and organizations focused on climate solutions can connect with students seeking job opportunities in the green sector.
  • Sustainable Internship Programs: Campus-wide internship programs that offer hands-on experience in sustainability-related fields, providing students with valuable skills and exposure to real-world challenges.


Projects that conduct climate solutions research that meets society’s needs, particularly those who are most vulnerable and who are impacted “first and worst” by climate and extreme weather events. Examples include:

  • New technology, innovative process, or novel application of an existing theory that results in real-world climate solutions
  • Policy or behavioral studies that demonstrate a deeper or new understanding of how individuals or institutions can be motivated to solve climate-related issues
  • Climate Communications: Impactful communications of climate science research to the public and policymakers – translating complex scientific information into accessible, visually compelling, and actionable insights.

What if I need support, have questions, or want to send an update regarding my submitted application?

You may submit your questions and updates to c[email protected] with the subject line “CLH inquiry or update – Your Institution Name.”

For more information about the Climate Luminary Honors, please email us at [email protected]