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EPA Environmental Merit Award Recognizes ACUPCC

Last month in Boston, University of Maine Sustainability Coordinator Dan Dixon accepted an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New England on behalf of the university. The University of Maine is a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which was initiated in 2007 by Second Nature Inc., a Boston-based organization focused on education for sustainability at higher education institutions nationwide. The EPA Environmental Merit Award to Second Nature recognizes outstanding efforts in preserving New England’s environment. Representatives of Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Colby College and UMaine represented the New England signatories of ACUPCC. In its description of the award winners, the EPA website noted that higher education was the first U.S. sector with a coherent, critical mass publicly committed to climate neutrality. In New England, 92 institutions representing 36 percent of the colleges and universities in the region have signed on. This represents 530,817 students and 138 million square feet of built environment. Nationwide, 670 institutions have joined the commitment, representing 6 million students. More than 30 of those who joined have set a climate neutrality date within the next 20 years. Four New England ACUPCC institutions — Colby College, Southern New Hampshire University, College of the Atlantic and Green Mountain College — have already reached the goal of climate neutrality. Some 20 New England institutions together saved $29.5 million in energy costs, according to the EPA website. The hundreds of institutions that are part of this commitment are generating innovative approaches to addressing climate change. Second Nature recognizes the leaders among them through the annual Climate Leadership Awards. Since Second Nature initiated the awards in 2010, eight New England colleges and universities have been recipients. Since its launch in 2007, international higher education representatives have approached Second Nature about expanding the model beyond the U.S. In Scotland, Peru, Australia and Canada, programs have been crafted with Second Nature work as a model.

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