News and Media Kits

  Marks of Distinction       Marks of Distinction Details       List of Awarded Marks 


We are pleased to launch Marks of Distinction for the Climate Leadership Network, an initiative that recognizes a select group of signatories that set high-performance goals, demonstrate and report measurable progress towards those goals, and support Network activities. Your institution is one of the select signatories that have earned one or more Marks of Distinction. We want to celebrate your success and have prepared a media packet for you to easily amplify your achievements to your campus community. Second Nature will support you by sharing your posts as well!

Sample Posts


We are proud to announce that we have earned #MarksOfDistinction from @LeadOnClimate for our hard work and leadership on #climateaction as part of the Climate Leadership Network!

(INSERT CAMPUS NAME) is making our mark and leading with distinction. Proud to earn #MarksOfDistinction, thank you @LeadOnClimate for recognising our hard work on #climateaction


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We worked hard on #climateaction and @LeadOnClimate recognized us by awarding us with #MarksOfDistinction

(INSERT CAMPUS NAME) is making our mark and leading with distinction. Proud to earn #MarksOfDistinction, thank you, @LeadOnClimate!


      Download PNG                    Download JPG



Access the Dropbox folder for all logos and graphs.

Quotes from Presidents

“We are very pleased to receive several  “Marks of Distinction” awards from  Second Nature.  ASU has made it a priority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and those efforts are being recognized.    We thank Second Nature and the Climate Leadership Network for their national leadership in raising awareness and recognizing institutions that are making a difference.”
– Michael M Crow, President, Arizona State University



“Marks of Distinction is an excellent way to celebrate the positive action and commitment to progress on our campuses. This recognition can provide valuable and inspiring motivation, collaboration and unity toward our common goals.

– Scott D. Miller, President, Virginia Wesleyan University



“The Second Nature Marks of Distinction recognize the high performance of colleges and universities across the nation in achieving climate leadership. As with many initiatives, higher education is leading the way in communicating and inspiring positive public perception and change for good – this time, for a healthier environment.  I am confident that validating climate achievement through the Marks of Distinction will further motivate other institutions to join our movement toward real, measurable climate change.”
– Dianne Harrison, President, California State University, Northridge



“As leaders in higher education, we have the power — individually and collectively — to move the needle on climate change. And, in doing so, we model for our peers, for other institutions outside our sector, and, most importantly, for our students, how to affect change. This is the moment for leaders to step up to the challenge in front of us. The Marks of Distinction further amplify the power of this network by enabling us all to see clearly who among our peers is excelling in a variety of areas related to the climate commitments. Those who are excelling can share their successful approaches, too, with peers in the network. With these Marks of Distinction, each campus can more clearly describe its own progress and become a model for others.”

– Mariko Silver, President, Bennington College



“The new Marks of Distinction will help us recognize and amplify the substantive action taking place at Portland Community College regarding reducing greenhouse gas emmissions. In turn, this recognition will lead to a virtuous cycle of validating the good work that made this recognition possible and inspiring further action – leading to further recognition. This is a great idea!

– Mark Mitsui, President, Portland Community College


“The framework of Second Nature’s Marks of Distinction initiative is perfectly aligned with Appalachian State University’s practice of setting high-performance goals and supports our climate leadership commitments. This new initiative will help us as we live our climate action goals every day and lead by example.”

– Sheri Everts, Chancellor, Appalachian State University


“On behalf of San Antonio College, I am pleased to be among the three institutions in Texas that received a Mark of Distinction from Second Nature’s Climate Commitment. For more than 90 years, San Antonio College has been a pillar of excellence in our community, and we continue to push the envelope. In 2014, SAC opened the William R. Sinkin Eco Centro, a sustainability hub for the city of San Antonio. With continual outreach to faculty, staff, students, and community members, the Center helps fulfill the College’s goal of achieving a healthier environment for all.” 

-Roberta Vela, President, San Antonio College

“We are honored to receive this ‘Marks of Distinction’ award from Second Nature. Ball State’s geothermal energy system, carbon reduction program, and LEED-certified buildings illustrate the innovative ways our University embraces sustainability in its operations and facilities. We are grateful for the recognition of these efforts as we partner with other institutions to address climate change and model environmental leadership for our students and the communities we serve.”

– Geoffrey S. Mearns, President, Ball State University

“The ‘Marks of Distinction’ program is a perfect fit for Eastern Connecticut State University. With an academic concentration in sustainability studies, a University-wide commitment to recycling and renewable energy, and a campus-based institute that promotes environmental stewardship across Connecticut, our students, faculty, and staff are working together to combat climate change. Programs that recognize their work will inspire them to continue their efforts, and remind all of us at Eastern that we are part of a national grassroots effort to provide climate leadership.”

Elsa Núñez, President, Eastern Connecticut State University


“When national politics are aggressively undermining U.S. commitments to fight climate change, it is up to local jurisdictions and institutions like ours to lead. We are taking several steps at Lewis & Clark to demonstrate our leadership, including the recent unanimous decision by our Board of Trustees to divest from fossil fuels. We are mitigating our carbon footprint by installing charging stations throughout the campus for electric vehicles and by using renewable energy sources. We are privileged to have a unique and important opportunity to educate our future leaders on climate issues while they are on our campus.”

– Wim Wiewel, Lewis and Clark College

Q & A

What are the Marks of Distinction?

Marks of Distinction is an initiative that recognizes a select group of signatories that set high-performance goals, demonstrate and report measurable progress towards those goals, and support Network activities.

How many are there and who has earned them?

There are 15 different Marks of Distinction that recognize various accomplishments such as progress towards carbon neutrality, use of renewable energy, and use of a revolving fundTo view the full array of institutions who have earned inaugural Marks of Distinction, and for a list of Marks with descriptions about each award category, visit our website.

Why Marks of Distinction now?

Our Climate Leadership Network is more important than ever given this unique period in our country’s history. This past year, the Network stepped up in a major ways to lead national climate progress. From setting some of the country’s most aggressive renewable energy targets to leading discussions at the international climate negotiations –  we are part of the only higher education network dedicated to climate action in the country, and our work has made a difference! The Marks of Distinction will allow you and your communications team to tell that story and inspire further action.

What determines whether an institution receives Marks of Distinction?

The Marks of Distinction initiative recognizes exemplary performance among a select group of higher education institutions and backed by the robust Reporting Platform. Leveraging this data, we are sharing documents that visually represent this year’s accomplishments in categories including; Carbon Reduction, 100 Renewable Energy Goal, and We Are Still In participation.

When will you award the next Marks of Distinction?

In September, we will release another round of Marks of Distinction, with data submitted by the upcoming annual reporting deadline of May 1, 2018.

How do I stay eligible for Marks of Distinction?

In order to remain eligible for the Marks of Distinction program, your institution must continue to be an active participating signatory, by contributing annual dues and reporting annual data.


175 signatories received Marks of Distinction representing 39 states
82 signatories received at least 2 Marks of Distinction
31 signatories received as least 3 Marks of Distinction
CA has 22 signatories and MA and PA each have 13 signatories receiving Marks of Distinction
20 Associate Colleges and 5 Special Focuses signatories received Marks of Distinction
5 signatories purchased 100% renewable energy
Colby College and Middlebury College have achieved carbon neutrality