New ACUPCC data quantifies cutting-edge eco-impact of colleges and universities

by Shane Henson — February 27, 2012—American colleges are leading the way among major organizations and businesses in reducing their carbon footprint. Just recently, the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), an agreement between nearly 700 colleges and universities to promote sustainability through teaching and action, released new data on the impact colleges and universities across the country have had in their area of environmental sustainability.

Among the findings:

  • The 599 colleges that submitted greenhouse gas inventories reported CO2 emissions of 28 million metric tons, roughly as much as 2.58 million homes or 5.2 million passenger vehicles emit annually.
  • 306 institutions set a target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 or before; 93 pledged neutrality by 2030.
  • Collectively, the ACUPCC network has purchased more than 1.28 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy credits, making it the third-largest buyer in the country.

“This wealth of data speaks to the enormous commitment and impact our member colleges have made,” said Dr. Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the ACUPCC. “The ACUPCC truly is an example of courageous leadership by college and university leaders. This is the first major U.S. sector to commit to climate neutrality and the first time since WWII that higher education in the U.S. has collectively stepped forward to take on a major societal challenge without waiting for some external entity to request it or fund them.”

The data is publicly available on the ACUPCC’s online Reporting System, a platform that enables schools to quantify the sustainability activity that is taking place on their campuses, and to hold themselves accountable by sharing their progress in a transparent way.