Rocky Mountain Institute Selects Furman University for Research Project

October 28, 2008

GREENVILLE, SC – October 27, 2008 – Furman University is one of 12 colleges and universities nationwide that will work with a team of energy researchers from Colorado to pursue breakthrough projects on campus that could help slow global warming. 

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a non-profit organization that focuses on innovations for energy and resource efficiency, announced this week that it will work with the schools to design innovative, greenhouse gas reduction projects on campus.  The institutions will also be eligible for seed funding to carry out the projects.

The 12 schools will host a two-day site visit by RMI this fall and later collaborate in a workshop with officials from RMI and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).  According to RMI, the schools were chosen because the organization can learn from their diverse range of experiences and their nuanced understanding of both successes and obstacles that campuses need to surmount.

RMI selected three two-year institutions (Harford Community College, Richland College, Lakeshore Technical College), four liberal arts colleges (Furman, University of Minnesota at Morris, Unity College, Luther College) and five research universities (Colorado State University, University of Vermont, University of Missouri, Tufts University, Yale University).

As a microcosm of larger human settlements such as cities and counties, a college campus is an ideal place to model future community-wide solutions, said Michael Kinsley of the Built Environment Team at RMI.

Rather than reducing greenhouse gas emissions building by building, this project takes a broader look at the campus as a system that can mitigate climate change holistically.

Sally DeLeon, an RMI research fellow, said the project will include:

*** Collaboration with the schools to identify barriers to their campuses going carbon neutral and to map out viable solutions.

*** A barrier-busting workshop on each campus in the spring to include administrators, facilities and operations professionals, student and faculty leaders, a team of technical experts from RMI, and visiting sustainability professionals from AASHE and other partner organizations.

*** Examination of how planners’ scenarios for climate action relate to institutional practices, school governance, financial decision-making and the social landscape on campus.

*** Publication of a comprehensive, web-based framework – to be called Accelerating Campus Climate-Change Initiatives – that all schools could consult for guidance on climate action planning. It will be based on the research visits, phone interviews with campuses (well beyond the 12 selected for the workshop), detailed applications that the schools submitted to RMI, and the workshop proceedings.

 Rocky Mountain Institute (, with offices in Snowmass and Boulder, Colo., is an independent, nonpartisan, entrepreneurial, nonprofit think-and-do tank.  It fosters the efficient and restorative use of resources to make the world secure, just, profitable and life-sustaining.
AASHE ( is an association of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada working to create a sustainable future.