Category Archives: Green Schools/Campuses

Ogallala, Nebraska Public Power announce ‘community solar farm’ project

By Todd Von Kampen,  Scottsbluff Star-Herald

The city of Ogallala and Nebraska Public Power District are poised to make the Keith County seat NPPD’s seventh retail town with a “community solar farm.” The Ogallala City Council Dec. 14 approved buying 13.53 acres south of Country View Campgrounds where solar panels will be installed, Interim City Manager Jane Skinner said last week.

The project should allow the city to cut its NPPD power bills and allow Ogallala residents to do likewise by subscribing for shares, said Pat Hanrahan, the district’s general manager for retail services. Ogallala is one of 79 Nebraska cities and villages where NPPD both sells and delivers electricity. North Platte buys its power from NPPD but distributes it to residents and businesses through city-owned Municipal Light & Water. Read more here.

Links to Additional Information

Photo: Kearney Solar Farm

GRAND ISLAND SENIOR HIGH

Grand Island Public offers ‘pathway’ to a greener world, by Jessica Votipka, Grand Island Independent

“I have a team of students who are designing and building solar phone charge stations for the new Stolley Park Community Gardens. We are hoping to finalize them and install them in March, but the solar panels themselves have been made already.” – Alex Kemnitz, alternative energy and robotics teacher. Next semester Alternative Energy Pathway students are going to do an energy audit on Newell Elementary School, to identify find out how to remedy any energy efficiency weakness, he said. 

Click the following link to learn more about the Academies of Grand Island Senior High.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

Key minerals discovered in Nebraska, but challenges loom, by Josh Funk, The Associated Press, York Dispatch

The Biden administration made rare earth elements a focus of its supply chain review earlier this year and is investigating the national security implications of relying so heavily on imports. A task force is planned to identify U.S. sites for production. The new $1 trillion infrastructure plan that provides incentives for electrical vehicles and wind power is expected to boost demand for critical minerals.

Previously Posted

Department of Natural Resources awarded grant for initiative to assess rare earth elements, critical minerals, The Missouri Times

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A partnership between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the University of Kansas will receive $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin, which encompasses Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation. The Department of Energy’s Carbon Ore, Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Initiative is a $19 million nationwide effort to assess rare earth elements and critical minerals in fossil fuel-producing areas.

DOE Awards $19 Million for Initiatives to Produce Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals, Department of Energy News Release 

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.” 

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

See Also:

Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

The White House Briefing Room, November 6, 2021

Today, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. For far too long, Washington policymakers have celebrated “infrastructure week” without ever agreeing to build infrastructure. The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. After the President put forward his plan to do exactly that and then negotiated a deal with Members of Congress from both parties, this historic legislation is moving to his desk for signature.

This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements for our nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads. It will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years. Continue reading here.

RELATED READING

Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Boosts Clean Energy Jobs, Strengthens Resilience, and Advances Environmental Justice, The White House

GREEN SCHOOLS / CAMPUSES

How schools are combatting climate change, from green schoolyards to solar power, by Meredith Deliso, ABC News

Overall, the education sector has an untapped opportunity to help mitigate climate change, from renewable energy practices to teachings, according to the Aspen Institute’s K12 Climate Action initiative, which points to school districts like Arlington’s as a success story in demonstrating climate solutions.

“We envision a future where America’s over 100,000 schools are models for climate action, climate solutions, and sustainability, and the 50 million children and youth in these schools are prepared to succeed in the clean economy and lead a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable society,” the organization wrote in a recent policy report.

In Omaha: Photo of Duchesne Academy’s 10-kilowatt solar array, installed by Interconnection Systems Inc (ISI), which is based in Central City, Nebraska. The energy generated by the system powers multiple classrooms, including the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math lab. where students can integrate data from the solar system into coursework.

The solar array is part of the school’s overall sustainability initiative. Duchesne Academy has the inspiring goal to be a net-positive-energy school by 2030. The school’s other sustainability program goals include zero waste by 2030, having a sustainable food system, and sustainability curriculum integration.

Iowa State and Alliant Energy collaborate on solar farm, Iowa State University 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

CCC Listed in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges

Central Community College News

Central Community College is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company features CCC in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2022 Edition. Accessible for free here, the guide profiles 420 colleges.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey of administrators at 835 colleges in 2020-21 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points to select the schools. Continue reading here.

Environmental Sustainability: Message from Central Community College President Matt Gotschall, PhD. Click the links provided on this same Web page to learn more about CCC campuses’ inspiring and wide-ranging commitments to the environment and sustainability.

Happy New (Fiscal) Year! Recapping a Year of Accomplishments at the Wind Energy Technologies Office

DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office 

As Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 comes to a close, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) is celebrating a range of research and funding achievements—from an offshore wind supply chain roadmap to new resources to help communities plan wind energy developments.

Learn more about how WETO’s FY21 accomplishments have helped set the stage for U.S. wind energy to continue to grow.

Visit the Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) for the latest news, events, and updates.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GREEN CAMPUSES

 Six Months of Solar: DU Pushes Toward Carbon Neutrality Goals, University of Denver News
The project aims to reduce DU’s carbon footprint in line with its 25 sustainability goals to achieve by 2025, and to further carbon neutrality efforts.

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO K-12 TEACHERS

NEED Curriculum Samplers

Available for FREE PDF download, these curriculum samplers recombine NEED favorites into a smaller and simpler format, allowing the NEED Project to showcase new curriculum activities before they go into full format. Click here to check them out and share with your colleagues.

Kayaking to Cut Coal Fired Power Plants: 2,341 Miles Down the Missouri River

By Clarence Dennis, Flatland KC

Part passion, part protest, Graham Jordison is paddling his kayak all 2,341 miles of the Missouri River, completely on his own. On Monday morning, Jordison pulled his orange boat onto the rocks at Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kansas, just a few hundred yards from the state of Missouri’s final stretch of the “Big Muddy.”

Jordison’s journey, which set off July 18 from Three Forks, Montana, is about a week away from the finish line in St. Louis, where the Missouri River pours into the Mississippi River. The long-distance paddler is moving at an average of 35 miles per day, give or take. Continue reading here.

Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal and Gas Campaign

Photo: Graham Jordison on the Missouri River near Sioux City. Credit: Emma Colman

BEYOND TAR SANDS

EDP Renewables, TC Energy Sign Power Agreement for Alberta Wind Farm, North American Wind Power

 “This agreement, which is Alberta’s largest power purchase agreement for wind, is an important step as TC Energy continues to build its renewable energy portfolio,” states Corey Hessen, TC Energy’s senior vice president and president of power and storage.

Previously Posted: Developer Abandons Keystone XL Pipeline Project, Ending Decade-Long Battle, by Jeff Brady and Neela Banerjee, NPR

FULLY ELECTRIFIED CAMPUS INITIATIVES

Columbia Pledges That All Future Campus Construction Will Be Fossil Free, Columbia News
As Climate Week NYC begins, the university explores creating a fully electrified campus. The Columbia Climate School is university partner of the weeklong climate showcase.

RESIDENTIAL RENEWABLES FOR ALL 

Advocates push for clean energy tax credits to help low-income households in budget bill, contributed by Jason Plautz, Utility Dive

A new coalition of more than 350 environmental groups, renewable energy companies and minority advocates is pushing for House Democrats to maintain tax language increasing clean energy access for low-income communities in the budget reconciliation package. 

 EVGO MILESTONE

EVgo Celebrates 300,000 Customer Account Milestone, Valdosta Daily Times
EVgo Inc. (NASDAQ: EVGO), the nation’s largest public fast charging network for electric vehicles (EVs) and first powered by 100% renewable electricity, today announced its nationwide customer accounts have crossed the 300,000 mark. The milestone arrives as EVgo continues to expand its fast-charging network footprint with convenient and reliable fast charging stations where drivers shop, work, and play.

FEATURED OPINION

Congress must commit to electric vehicles, Utility Dive
Contributed article by Ben Prochazka, Executive Director, Electrification Coalition; Dr. Shelley Francis, Co-Founder and Director, EVHybridNoire; Jeff Allen, Executive Director, Forth; and Joel Levin, Executive Director, Plug In America.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Sugar Powers Solar Technology Research

Creighton University News

When Max Markuson DiPrince embarked on an accelerated master’s degree in physics and sustainable energy sciences, Creighton University’s most prominent solar technology researcher found his man.

Andrew Baruth, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, had been kicking around an idea that cooking sugar down into carbon nanodots about one billionth of a meter in size might improve the efficiency of solar panels.

Such is the imaginative world of research, but Baruth needed someone to pursue the idea. When he handed the ball to Markuson DiPrince, a junior from Denver, Colorado, who is a Dean’s Fellow in the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, Markuson DiPrince carried it all the way to a presentation at the annual conference of the American Physical Society, held virtually in March.

As he perused the participants who would soon hear his PowerPoint presentation, Markuson DiPrince saw representatives of numerous graduate institutions and national laboratories, including Los Alamos National Laboratory in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as well as representatives of Princeton and Harvard universities.

“It was pretty terrifying, I won’t lie,” Markuson DiPrince said. “But it definitely built up my ability to present in an academic environment, which is very important as I build the skills necessary to present and defend a master’s thesis.”

The innovation Markuson DiPrince laid out that day concerned the ability of glucose-based carbon nanodots to transform the ultraviolet light spectrum into green light, which is the ideal form of light for solar cells.

“This is a relatively new direction for our research team, and Max ran the project in its entirety,” Baruth said. “It is quite an achievement for an undergraduate. It is certainly graduate-level work, which is why I’m glad he’s sticking around for his master’s degree.”

Markuson DiPrince is no stranger to solar cell research. He was named a 2019-2020 recipient of a NASA Nebraska Space Grant for similar work investigating the use of glucose-derived carbon to boost the ability of solar cells to generate electrical energy from sunlight.

Max Markuson DiPrince is a member of Nebraskans for Solar’s Board of Directors. 

Upcoming Event Hosted by Conservation Nebraska

Virtual Solar Farm Tour: Creighton University
May 20, 2021 at 6 pm

Register Here.

 

Join Conservation Nebraska for a virtual tour of Creighton University’s solar farm!

Andrew Baruth with Creighton University’s Physics Department will take us on a virtual tour and show us just how bright our future can be. Join us in learning about how the solar farm works, the benefits it provides, and how Creighton uses the solar farm to help generate electricity for their campus.

Students rally for full divestment commitment from NU Board of Regents

By Zach Wendling, The Daily Nebraskan

Aila Ganic and Madison Whitney, Sustain UNL’s president and vice president, respectively, and Divest NU organizers, presented three demands to the university. These include a call on the NU Board of Regents to commit to full divestment of its controlled funds by its August meeting, pass a resolution calling on the NU Foundation to fully divest by the end of the year and create a university-wide working group — that would include students — dedicated to the implementation of divestment and reinvestment in clean energy. The pair also called on NU President Ted Carter and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green, who were in attendance at the rally, to step up and hear their call. Read more here.

Photo by Marissa Kraus

Additional Recommended Reading

Students renew call for NU to divest from fossil fuels, by Chris DunkerLincoln Journal Star
On Wednesday, during a blustery rally at the Union Plaza, organizers of Divest NU gathered to celebrate the recent action taken by the Board of Regents to add new criteria to how the university invests endowed funds. Earlier this month, regents approved adding “environmental, social and governance” criteria to its investment decisions for Fund N, roughly $370 million controlled by NU, which will allow the university to consider factors beyond simply making money.

‘Factors other than making money’ to be considered in how NU invests funds,by Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star

Growing numbers of students are calling on Nebraska colleges to divest from fossil fuel firms

By Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer Rick Ruggles, Kearney Hub

Creighton University announced late last week that it would divest from its investments in fossil fuels within 10 years and pursue solid investments in renewable energy. Creighton University students marched early last year for divestment. Doane University pledged in 2019 to cease new investments in fossil fuels. The NU system, with campuses in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney, has heard calls for divestment from students at Board of Regents meetings and elsewhere. Read more here.

Nebraska-Based Bluestem Energy Solutions In The News  

Jo-Carroll Energy completed solar project, Freeport Journal-Standard
Jo-Carroll Energy, in partnership with Bluestem Energy Solutions, has completed a 2.3 megawatt solar project in Jo Daviess and Carroll counties. The now-operational solar farm consists of two solar array sites located near Apple Canyon Lake and Mount Carroll. It will provide a tax boost to both counties along with additional benefits to Jo-Carroll and its member-consumers. 

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy

Creighton University to divest fully from fossil fuels within 10 years

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Creighton University announced it plans to phase out all investments in fossil fuels from its $587 million endowment within the next 10 years and target new investments in sustainable energy. Under the new investment policy, Creighton will sell off public securities of fossil fuel companies within five years and end holdings in private fossil fuel investments within 10 years. At the same time, it plans to seek out new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The decision, approved by the trustees in September and announced on New Year’s Eve, comes more than two years after students on the Jesuit campus in Omaha, Nebraska, began pressuring school leadership to divest from companies involved in the extraction and refining of coal, oil and natural gas because of their leading role in human-driven climate change. The move makes Creighton the fourth U.S. Catholic university to make public its plans to divest fully from fossil fuels. Continue reading here.

Photo by Brady Manker: Creighton University students advocate for climate action in 2019.

Additional Recommended Reading

For decades, environmentalists have warned that climate change endangers the planet. Now, more asset managers than ever are in agreement as they see a threat to the bottom line. The fossil fuel divestment campaign has captured global attention, with many high-profile institutional investors withdrawing investment from fossil fuels. The campaign has achieved particular traction among faith investors, local authorities, and education establishments such as US and European universities. The climate crisis has put high emitting industries under pressure in an already disrupted business environment due to covid-19. Pressure from shareholder activists are prompting more investors than ever to reshape their portfolios. 

NOAA Public Domain Image

NU to offer more transparency about investments amid calls to divest from fossil fuels

By Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star

Students across the University of Nebraska system have called on administrators to fully divest from fossil fuel companies, part of a nationwide movement in higher education. Ted Carter, NU’s system president, said achieving that goal would be difficult in a short time frame.

There’s no way to flip a switch and immediately divest, he said, as investments are often intertwined across various funds in complicated ways. But Carter, who is wrapping up his first year at Nebraska, said the university will begin looking for opportunities to do so, citing the passion students have demonstrated for the issue. Read more here.

Referenced in the article: Carbon Underground 200

Additional Resources

As You Sow
Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Our vision is a safe, just, and sustainable world in which protecting the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision making. Corporations are responsible for most of the pressing social and environmental problems we face today — we believe corporations must be a willing part of the solutions. We make that happen.
Resources Include: 

As You Sow has seven Invest Your Values online tools, including Fossil Free Funds, which provide a searchable database for each value.
Resources on Climate Change

Billion Dollar Green Challenge
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (The Challenge) encourages colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of one billion dollars in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements. Participating institutions will achieve reductions in operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating regenerating funds for future projects. In 2011, The Sustainable Endowments Institute launched The Challenge in collaboration with 16 partner organizations to help nonprofit institutions achieve sizable energy savings through the use of green revolving funds. Green Revolving Funds: A Guide to Implementation & Management

CDP
Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions. We believe that improving corporate awareness through measurement and disclosure is essential to the effective management of carbon and climate change risk. We request information on climate risks and low carbon opportunities from the world’s largest companies on behalf of over 515 institutional investor signatories with a combined $106 trillion in assets.

Ceres
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. Our mission: Ceres is transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.
Initiatives include: Commit to Climate, We Are Still In, Climate Action 100+ and Clean Trillion

Proxy Preview
Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact. The annual Proxy Preview report is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values and corporate engagement. Proxy Preview is the most comprehensive data on hundreds of shareholder resolutions – including environmental, corporate political spending, human rights, diversity, and sustainable governance issues. Shareholder resolutions are a key form of engagement for U.S. investors interested in changing the environmental and social impacts of companies. Register for a free account to view the 2020 Proxy Preview report and watch a webinar at the above website link.
Shareholder Resources
Proxy Voting 101

Second Nature
Since 1993, Second Nature has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at hundreds of colleges and universities to help make the principles of sustainability fundamental to every aspect of higher education. In late 2006, twelve visionary college and university presidents initiated the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). They were motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to lead on climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society.
See: The Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments
University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)
Resource Library