Luther College receives Second Nature Climate Leadership Award

May 2, 2012

President Torgerson to accept award at Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

Luther College has been selected to receive a 2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award, recognizing Luther as one of the nation's leading colleges and universities with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on campus and integrating this goal with the college's educational mission.

The 10 award recipients in the Second Nature competition will be honored at the 2012 Climate Leadership Summit to be held June 21-22 at American University in Washington, D.C.  Luther President Richard Torgerson will attend the event to accept the award on behalf of the college at the dinner and Climate Leadership Award Ceremony on June 21.

"Luther College is honored to be recognized as one of a select group of educational institutions chosen for the Climate Leadership Award," said President Torgerson. "We are pleased to have this affirmation of Luther's commitment to sustainability, both in the operation of our campus and its facilities, and in the education of our students.

"To be selected as one of the best of the best -- one of the top colleges from among the 20 finalists for the Climate Leadership Award -- is a great honor," President Torgerson said. "All of these institutions are acknowledged national leaders in sustainability initiatives and achievements, and Luther is proud to be named as one of the leaders in the nation."

Luther's Climate Leadership Award is in the baccalaureate college category. Two award winners were selected in each of five categories: doctorate granting universities, master's degree granting colleges and universities, baccalaureate colleges, associate/tribal colleges, and special focus institutions/others.

The award winners were selected by the Second Nature Board of Directors. Second Nature is the lead organization of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, a network of more than 675 higher education institutions in 50 states that have made a commitment to prepare young people to solve the climate crisis.

President Torgerson was among the first college presidents to sign the ACUPCC pledge, an agreement among colleges and universities to promote sustainability through teaching and action. The ACUPCC is a growing network of colleges and universities that have made institutional commitments to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions and to make sustainability a part of every student's learning experience.

"Luther College was selected for the Climate Leadership Award primarily because of its success in integrating campus technology and the learning experience with environmental sustainability," said Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature, the lead supporting organization of the ACUPCC.

As part of its strategic plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent, Luther recently completed a 1.6 megawatt wind turbine that produces a third of the college's electrical energy, and it is constructing a field of solar panels to generate all of the electricity consumed by its Baker Village residential complex, home to 100 students. "Luther has set an important example by working towards this interim reduction target for all of higher education and society in light of the latest scientific information that we need significant reductions in the next five years if we are to avoid serious and unmanageable climate disruption," says Cortese.

Cortese noted that Luther's commitment to sustainable practices and lifestyle is also incorporated into students' learning experiences. The college conducts faculty workshops on integrating sustainability into the curriculum, develops student internships promoting green practices in the surrounding community, and supports a peer-to-peer program that fosters sustainability literacy on campus.

"Luther College has drawn a successful blueprint for not just teaching sustainability in the classroom, but also practicing what they preach and allowing students to contribute to the planning and to see it take place throughout campus," said Cortese. "This kind of systemic approach to sustainability can make the planet healthier and better prepare Luther graduates for jobs in the new-energy economy."

The ACUPCC acknowledged Luther's achievements in April as part of its Celebrating Sustainability series, which identified signatories' efforts to re-stabilize the earth's climate through education, research and community engagement.

More information on the awards program is at

Luther College's video for with ACUPCC, Planet Forward and Second Nature:

About the finalists for the Climate Leadership Award

Twenty educational institutions in five categories were named Climate Leadership Award finalists in April. The finalists represent 14 different states, and their enrollments range from less than 1,000 to almost 250,000 students.

Thirteen of the 20 finalists in the five categories of the Second Nature competition were early adopters of the ACUPCC, signing the commitment at its inception in 2007. 

The finalists, listed according to their respective Carnegie Classifications, were:

Doctorate Granting Universities: Arizona State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, New York University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of South Florida

Master's Degree Granting Colleges and Universities: Florida Gulf Coast University, Goddard College (Vermont), University of Central Missouri, William Paterson University of New Jersey

Baccalaureate Colleges: Allegheny College (Pennsylvania), Carleton College (Minnesota), Luther College (Iowa), Spelman College (Georgia)

Associate/Tribal Colleges: Austin Community College District (Texas), Chandler – Gilbert Community College (Arizona), Glendale Community College (Arizona), Haywood Community College (North Carolina)

Special Focus Institutions/Other: Pratt Institute and PALS, (New York), State University of New York Upstate Medical University, University of California System

About Second Nature

Second Nature works to create a healthy, just and sustainable society by transforming higher education. Second Nature is the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, a growing network of more than 675 signatory higher education institutions in all 50 states that have made a public commitment to transform the educational experience for all students so they are prepared to solve the climate crisis.

Learn more at:

About the ACUPCC

The ACUPCC is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments from college and universities to accelerate the education, research and community engagement to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate and eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from their own operations.

Learn more at:

About Luther College

Located in the northeast Iowa town of Decorah, Luther College is an undergraduate liberal arts institution of about 2,500 students. Founded in 1861 and affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Luther offers more than 60 majors and pre-professional and certificate programs leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Through engagement with a rigorous academic curriculum and involvement in a community of learning, faith and responsibility, Luther guides the transformation of young men and women into lives of service, leadership and achievement in a greater world.

Learn more at:

Luther named winner of Second Nature Climate Leadership Award