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Coe College joins new Climate Commitment initiative

Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2016-05-13 09:33:08 - General

Climate Commitment logo
Second Nature logo

Coe College is one of 84 colleges and universities across the United States that has committed to carbon neutrality and resilience by becoming a charter signatory to the Climate Commitment. The Climate Commitment, a signature program of Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, will require Coe to set climate targets, report on progress publicly, and collaborate with the surrounding community, all while integrating sustainability across the curriculum. To become a Charter Signatory of the Climate Commitment, academic institutions had to sign between October 5, 2015 and Earth Day, 2016.

"Coe strives to be a leader in sustainability issues, and we are proud to be a charter signatory to the Climate Commitment," said Coe President David McInally. "Members of our campus community are committed to environmentally friendly practices including recycling, food and water conservation, and decreasing energy usage to reduce our carbon footprint. Participation in the Climate Commitment publicly signals our commitment to a sustainable environment."

Over the past few years, significant progress has been made in reducing Coe's carbon footprint. In 2010, Coe switched from heating the campus with coal to natural gas, which resulted in a decrease in the college's carbon output of 19 percent. The new steam plant, which is shared with St. Luke's Hospital, was built to LEED standards.

Coe is currently completing a project with the Energy Service Group to reduce overall energy usage on campus. This product has involved a detailed inspection of campus infrastructure, repair and replacement of inefficient components, and validation of the results. Coe purchases ENERGY STAR appliances and electronic devices whenever possible, with the net effect of further reducing carbon emissions.

Finally, the complete renovation of Peterson Hall of Science, completed in 2013, utilized the latest in high-efficiency electrical motors and controls to make the building's ventilation system both safe and thrifty with electricity usage. The remodel of Peterson Hall was carried out using LEED standards, which included recycling as many of the construction materials as possible, as well as many water- and energy-saving updates.

The Climate Commitment is one of three commitments from Second Nature. These are known jointly as the Climate Leadership Commitments, and include a Carbon Commitment (focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions), a Resilience Commitment (focused on climate adaptation and building community capacity), and a Climate Commitment that integrates both.

Formerly known as the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (or ACUPCC) of which Coe is a charter signatory, the Climate Commitment has a track record of 10 years of success, boasts nearly 600 signatories, and has been used as a model for higher education climate action internationally. The Climate Commitment seeks to expand on that success and integrate resilience into the framework. In the U.S., these signatory institutions become part of the Climate Leadership Network, which comprises more than 650 colleges and universities in every state and the District of Columbia.

The Climate Leadership Commitments have created tremendous impact: a recent study from the University of New Hampshire and facilities solutions company, Sightlines, found that campuses that have signed the Carbon Commitment have 47 percent lower carbon emissions from purchased energy than non-signatories that are doing sustainability work on campus. Additionally, Climate Leadership Network signatories are over-represented in sustainability leadership rankings. For example, 100 percent of the Top 10 Sierra Club Cool Schools are signatories. Second Nature also recently worked with the White House to create and support the American Campuses Act on Climate pledge leading up to the COP21 international climate talks. Nearly 80 percent of the pledges were from Climate Leadership Network institutions.

Second Nature launched the Climate Commitment on Oct. 5, 2015, along with the Resilience Commitment and the Carbon Commitment, the latter being a updated and rebranded version of their original commitment: the ACUPCC.

For a full list of the Climate Commitment Charter Signatories, see: secondnature.org/charter-signatories/.

For more information on all of the environmental and sustainability initiatives at Coe, visit www.coe.edu/coegreen.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.