Using the power of philanthropy to spark collective action for carbon neutrality in the university sector
Submitted by Ray C. Anderson Foundation
The NextGen Committee of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation has awarded a $90,000 grant to Second Nature to provide the tools necessary to allow universities to collaborate and pool their financial investments, to increase the number of large-scale renewable energy projects in the national grid, and to achieve climate neutrality on more U.S. campuses.
The Ray C. Anderson Foundation is a private family foundation that was launched in 2012 to celebrate the legacy of Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), a globally known industrialist turned environmentalist that was once named the “Greenest CEO” by Fortune, and a “Hero of the Environment” by TIME.
The Foundation’s NextGen Committee is comprised of Ray’s five grandchildren and their spouses. Since 2013, the Committee has taken an active role in perpetuating Ray’s legacy by investing in projects geared to make the world a better place for “Tomorrow’s Children.” Over the past six years, the committee has funded more than $300,000 in programs with focus ranging from conservation to climate change education to urban agriculture.
John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, and a member of the NextGen Committee, says the group issued a call for proposals in April 2018 because they were most interested in finding ways to reduce carbon without simply investing in certified carbon offsets. “We wondered how we might leverage the power of philanthropy to incentivize real action with measurable results,” he said.
With over a decade of climate action, Second Nature has worked with the almost 600 Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments signatories to lead the higher education sector in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and striving to meet the necessary goals laid out by climate scientists to avert the worst impacts of climate change. By publicly reporting progress, these signatory institutions in the Climate Leadership Network share examples of carbon reduction efforts from fuel switching and energy efficiency to renewable energy and carbon offset purchasing.
“We were impressed by Second Nature's leadership in convening university stakeholders and moving them from ideas to action,” said Chantel Lanier, Chairperson of the NextGen Committee. “Ray Anderson always stressed that the industrial sector could create positive environmental change because it is so large. The university sector certainly has the same potential when they put their voices and resources together, in particular when it comes to reversing global warming."
Second Nature plans to use the grant funds to provide the resources necessary for a group of colleges and universities that are already committed to carbon neutrality and ready to move from the initial administrative commitment stage to measurable climate action within the next calendar year.
The Second Nature team is hopeful that the grant will enable multiple universities to push their ideas into action, ultimately combining their financial commitments to complete a large-scale, (60 MW+) aggregated procurement of clean energy in 2019, through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
Second Nature and the Climate Leadership Network possess an extensive infrastructure of technical assistance tools, contact and communication systems, a public reporting and climate data platform, and the ability to convene in-person meetings that lead to action, like the Climate Leadership Summit February 10-12 in Tempe, Arizona, and the cross-sector forums of the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3. This combination of practical tools and collaborative implementation expedites the unprecedented action necessary to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.
"By working together to increase demand for clean energy, campuses can drive renewable pathways that would otherwise not be possible. We're grateful to the Ray C. Anderson Foundation for supporting the Climate Leadership Network's ability to scale solutions during this time when transformative climate action is urgently needed,” said Tim Carter, President of Second Nature. “The grant will advance Second Nature’s initiatives with higher education institutions on large-scale renewable energy projects in a way that other sectors can replicate, for global results in greenhouse gas reduction.”
About the NextGen Committee
Ray C. Anderson’s five grandchildren, along with their spouses, comprise the NextGen Committee of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. The Committee makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees for worthwhile grants and initiatives. Over the past couple of years, the Committee has decided to focus its philanthropic efforts on programs that help reverse global warming.
About Second Nature and the Climate Leadership Network
Second Nature is committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education. This is accomplished by mobilizing a diverse array of higher education institutions to act on bold climate commitments, to scale campus climate initiatives, and to create innovative climate solutions. Second Nature aims to align, amplify, and bridge the sector’s efforts with other global leaders to advance urgent climate priorities.
The Climate Leadership Commitments are a signature program of Second Nature 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. The Climate Leadership Network comprises almost 600 colleges and universities in every state and the District of Columbia who have committed to take action on climate and prepare students through research and education to solve the challenges of the 21st century. Learn more at: secondnature.org.
The Ray C. Anderson Foundation was created in honor of the late Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), founder of Interface, Inc. During his time at Interface, Ray championed the notion of businesses doing well by doing good. It’s these noble qualities of advancing knowledge and innovation around environmental stewardship and sustainability that recognized Ray as a pioneer in industrial ecology.
The purpose of the Foundation is to perpetuate these shared values and continue the legacy that Ray left behind. Through research and funding, the Foundation aims to help create a better world for future generationsâ€”tomorrow’s child. Join us as the story of the Foundation continues to unfold.
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