RMI Workshop Convened to Brainstorm Solutions to the Most Common CAP Barriers
By Sally DeLeon, Research Fellow, Rocky Mountain Institute Built Environment Team
In early June, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and AASHE convened a collaborative workshop in Denver, Colorado where twelve schools and external experts worked together to address common obstacles to campus climate-change mitigation. With generous support from an anonymous funder, the event brought together facilities personnel, sustainability staff, students, administrators and faculty from a diverse group of selected colleges and universities with technical-subject experts from RMI, VerdeCapital, LLC, Burns and McDonnell and experienced program directors from AASHE, Second Nature, and National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program.
The central purpose of the workshop was to collaboratively brainstorm realistic solutions to typical problems that come up in the course of campus climate action planning and implementation. The ideas generated through this process will be incorporated into a web-based practical research report,Accelerating Campus Climate-Change Initiatives, that RMI and AASHE will release later this summer. Some of the major topics of discussion at the workshop were: the need for more pervasive energy-end-use metering and related educational opportunities; steps to build the case for non-financial benefits of green buildings and campus renewable energy systems; and organizational structures to support campus-community collaboration on climate change mitigation.
Following the workshop, each of the participating campus teams continued to work on refining their ideas for a model campus climate project that they would propose to RMI at the end of June. The group of twelve includes four public universities (Colorado State University, University of Minnesota Morris, University of Missouri, and University of Vermont), five private colleges and universities (Furman University, Luther College, Tufts University, Unity College, and Yale University) and three publically funded community colleges and technical schools (Harford Community College, Lakeshore Technical College, and Richland College). Both the workshop and the resulting project discussions emphasized the unique needs of each of type of institution as well as opportunities that schools have in common for collaborating, such as regional climate action planning networks.
With some advisory input from experts at the workshop, each school’s team has designed a project that will either make a significant reduction in their campus greenhouse gas emissions, measurably address a significant barrier to campus climate action, or both. Projects range from solar thermal installations with real-time energy kiosks to revolving loan funds for student-driven energy efficiency and conservation measures. RMI’s anonymous funder is enthusiastic about supporting these projects with seed funding and will work with the campuses during the 2009-2010 academic year to learn and disseminate information from the project implementation process.
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