Middlebury College has been selected to receive a 2013 Climate Leadership Award by Second Nature, a Boston-based national nonprofit that works with college and university leaders to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of higher education, from academics to operations.
The awards are presented annually to signatory institutions of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) that demonstrate innovative leadership in education for sustainability and climate mitigation. Middlebury was one of two schools to receive an award in the baccalaureate college category. Oberlin College was the other.
“These exemplary institutions have shown us that bold action on climate is not only possible but pragmatic," said David Hales, president of Second Nature. “Their operational, educational and community initiatives are fueling the thought behind what is both necessary and achievable in addressing climate change, and the labors of these leading institutions will benefit all of society.”
This year, the award program's fourth, drew the most competitive pool of nominations to date. The winners were among 20 finalists chosen by Second Nature’s board and represent the diversity of higher education institutions across the U.S.
Middlebury College’s nomination for the Climate Leadership Award was based in part on its greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. In 2006 students pushed for a greater commitment to lower carbon emissions and convinced the trustees to pass a resolution to achieve carbon neutrality by 2016, setting Middlebury’s “Making Neutrality a Reality” campaign into motion. Projects that include carbon neutrality, green buildings, a biomass plant, and a solar tracker installation have increased educational opportunities while reducing the college’s carbon footprint and supporting the local economy.
As part of the award application process, Middlebury submitted a video describing, from a student perspective, how sustainability is integral to the culture of the college: http://planetforward.org/idea/middleburys-climate-commitment-putting-ethos-into-action/
“We appreciate this award and the recognition of our efforts to address climate change,” said Nan Jenks Jay, dean of environmental affairs at Middlebury. “Setting an ambitious, short-term carbon neutrality goal has had multiple benefits for the bottom line and the greater community. It has also provided new opportunities for applied education and research to our students and faculty.”