Clarkson President Collins & Sustainability Team to Join Climate Leadership Conference

Clarkson University President Tony Collins will speak at the 2014 Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership in Boston October 1-3.

Clarkson University President Tony Collins. Via Clarkson University

Clarkson University President Tony Collins. Via Clarkson University

Spence Professor of Sustainable Environmental Systems Susan E. Powers and Director of Facilities Ian D. Hazen will also take part.

The summit will bring together more than 250 college and university leaders from across the United States to focus on ways to strengthen campus climate action and sustainability initiatives, as well as higher education’s leadership role in developing strategic responses to climate and sustainability challenges in community, regional, and national contexts. Like Clarkson, most Summit participants are signatories of theAmerican College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

President Tony Collins will discuss Clarkson as a continuous living laboratory for sustainable practices.

During Collins’ presentation, he will discuss Clarkson’s evolution as a sustainable campus. A few years ago, the university benchmarked itself using the STARS ranking system, concluding that Clarkson should be a continuous living laboratory for sustainable practices. Its size and collaborative nature lends itself to this approach, which is overseen by the president and cabinet.

Collins will describe four courses involving campus sustainability design issues, the campus sustainability fund, the development of renewable electricity sources, and socially responsible investments in the University endowment. He also plans to touch on the challenges of obtaining and sharing data across campus to drive the sustainability process.

Convened by Second Nature Inc., the supporting organization for the ACUPCC, the summit reflects the centrality of higher education’s role in preparing new generations to meet the challenges of climate change. The program focuses on ways to build on the success of climate action plans and sustainability initiatives on ACUPCC campuses and develop solutions to the most pressing environmental problems facing our communities.

The timing of this event is especially useful for the Clarkson team. “As a new signatory of the President’s Climate Commitment, our Clarkson team will have an opportunity to use the Leadership Summit to establish broad goals and basic strategies for crafting and implementing its climate action plan,” said Powers.

More than 680 colleges and universities in the United States are current ACUPCC signatories, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and every category of public and private higher education institution. These signatories are committed to achieving carbon neutrality and represent more than 6.5 million students — one third of all college students in the nation.

“The Summit is a key opportunity for ACUPCC presidents and their sustainability teams to work together to shape higher education’s critical role in advancing sustainability and addressing climate change at the national level,” said Portland State University President Wim Wiewel, chair of the ACUPCC Steering Committee. “The launch of the National Climate Assessment this past spring has given us a clear mandate and an excellent springboard for climate action. It’s imperative for higher education to respond and help lead our society in defining and achieving a sustainable future.”

The Summit was designed by a group of 30 college and university presidents with the support of a committee of seven local institutions, and is organized into five tracks: Knowledge and Solutions for a Changing Climate, Higher Education’s Climate Leadership Imperative, Creating a Campus Culture of Sustainability, Investment Strategies and Institutional Risks, and Corporate Partnerships for Climate Leadership — along with a session on the Alliance for Resilient Campuses, Second Nature’s newest initiative focused on climate resilience.

Highlights include keynote addresses by Brian Swett, chief of environment and energy for the City of Boston, and Kate Gordon, executive director of the Risky Business Project. Kathy Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Change Adaptation Science and Solutions and former director of the U. S. National Climate Assessment, is speaking about and facilitating discussions about climate resilience throughout the event.

CO2 impact from attendee travel, meeting space, and guest accommodations is being offset through purchase by the Revere Hotel of carbon offsets from Native Energy Inc. Summit sponsors include Xerox, Cenergistic, Altenex, and ecoAmerica.

For more information about the Summit, visithttp://www.secondnature.org/resources/summit-2014.