Educational Institutions

Second Nature, Inc.

  • Boston, MA

Mission Statement

What Defines Us

We will strive to have our commitments to diversity, transparency, humility, innovation, and community be qualities that are said about us, not characteristics that we simply declare. These values serve as our mirror as well as our lens for focused decision-making, internal organizational dynamics, and engagement with external stakeholders.


Our mission is to proactively build a sustainable and positive global future through initiating bold commitments, scaling successful actions, and accelerating innovative solutions among leadership networks in higher education.


We envision humanity thriving through healthy, just, and sustainable living within a dynamically changing earth system. We see higher education playing a prominent leadership role in shaping research, learning, and communities that inspire and operationalize this positive future. Second Nature serves as a critical driver for leaders in higher education that commit to this responsibility.


Since its founding in 1993, Second Nature has played a critical role in mobilizing higher education to move the needle towards the goal of a sustainable society. We created and oversee the largest voluntary carbon neutrality commitment in any sector in the United States. Millions of students have passed through these schools and this history has placed Second Nature in a key leadership position working with higher education to advance sustainability.

We believe the 2020 Strategic Plan (completed in January 2015) represents a new, catalytic phase of Second Nature's development. Anchored in clarified mission and vision statements, this plan sets out five key objectives designed to build broader and deeper levels of sustainability impact both on and off campuses.


At Second Nature, we recognize the fundamental value of diversity, and the essential role it plays in building a sustainable and positive global future. We are committed to a diverse workplace in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, because we believe that an inclusive, supportive environment enables us to thrive, and better meet the needs of our network and the communities we serve.

To us, the term diversity recognizes and encourages social and cultural differences, as well as individual ones. Current and historical inequities create uneven access to opportunities, and we are committed to breaking down those barriers in our work. We understand diversity to be not only the absence of discriminatory behavior or opinions, but also the active support of passionate, smart, and motivated employees and partners from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Embracing true diversity involves hiring, engaging, and supporting people who represent many perspectives, think differently, and challenge our assumptions. Diversity is the backbone of an innovative and vibrant organization, and though pursuing it is not always easy — it is vital. We are continually learning,

Main Programs

  1. The Climate Leadership Commitments
  2. Campus Cleantech Pilots
  4. Climate Resilience in Urban Campuses + Communities (CRUX)
Service Areas



Second Nature provides leadership in and for higher education throughout the United States.

ruling year


President since 2014


Dr. Timothy Carter



Higher education, sustainability, educational resources, environment, colleges, universities, EFS, learning, sustainable, design, training

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Also Known As

Second Nature, Inc.





Physical Address

18 Tremont Street, STE 608

Boston, MA 02108


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

The Climate Leadership Commitments

Second Nature works to proactively build a sustainable and positive global future through initiating bold commitments, scaling successful actions, and accelerating innovative solutions among leadership networks in higher education. The Presidents’ 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 more than 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:



Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified


Program 2

Campus Cleantech Pilots


Second Nature is accelerating the commercialization of clean energy technology by using universities as testing and demonstration platforms for startup companies. Colleges and universities participating in the Campus Cleantech Pilots will develop and implement a strategy for using existing campus infrastructure to test emerging energy-related technologies. This will help cleantech startup companies overcome the critical “first demonstration” barrier that often prevents new solutions from successfully making it into the market. At the same time, this program allows leading colleges and universities to get a first look at innovative technologies that provide opportunity for research and classroom learning while helping schools reach their climate and energy-related goals.

Second Nature is partnering with Clean Energy Trust (CET) and a Campus Cleantech Advisory Committee of twelve higher education institutions to launch the Campus Cleantech Pilots. The partnership between Second Nature and CET is facilitated in part by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The Campus Cleantech Pilots program aims to accelerate deployment of clean energy technologies, both in the higher education sector and beyond, with the ultimate goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions and finding innovative solutions to climate change. By providing startup companies with pilot deployment opportunities at colleges and universities, this program helps drive the clean technology industry. Schools participating in this program are all signatories of Second Nature’s Carbon or Climate Commitment; through Campus Cleantech Pilots these schools demonstrate leadership in overcoming organizational barriers to innovation and have first access to new technologies that can help lower their emissions and meet their climate goals.

Second Nature and CET will work with participating schools to develop a challenge statement and to designate an area of their campus as an innovation zone where the new technology will be deployed. For the initial pilot phase of the program, Second Nature and CET are focusing on technologies that address one or more of the following categories:

Smart Buildings (e.g. energy efficiency, controls/sensors, interior lighting)
Smart Infrastructure (e.g. grid connectivity, microgrids, battery storage, exterior lighting)
CET will leverage its network of startup companies to find emergent clean energy technologies that address the challenge statement, and work with Second Nature to match these companies with the participating schools.

Campus Cleantech Pilots is in the initial testing and pilot phase. Over the next year Second Nature, CET, and the Campus Cleantech Advisory Committee will finalize the process for matching institutions with cleantech startup companies.



Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified


Program 3


The Carbon Credit and Purchasing Program (C2P2) is an initiative to support colleges and universities in developing and marketing carbon offsets as a way to accelerate their progress towards campus carbon neutrality. Eligible schools can develop carbon credits on their campuses through energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and LEED certified buildings. Proceeds from carbon sales are invested into sustainability projects on campus, allowing schools to achieve greater emissions reductions and pushing communities to develop clean, efficient energy systems. The Carbon Credit and Purchasing Program develops credits to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) through a methodology designed specifically for campus-based projects. As the manager of C2P2, Second Nature provides technical and logistical support to schools participating in the program.


C2P2 began as a continuation of Chevrolet’s Campus Clean Energy Campaign. Beginning in 2014 Chevrolet partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and 11 college and university campuses to launch the Campus Clean Energy Campaign. This Campaign provided funding to purchase and retire verified carbon reductions resulting from renewable energy and energy efficiency projects implemented at the participating campuses. These campus project credits were certified by VCS under a new VCS accredited methodology that the Climate Neutral Business Network developed in collaboration with stakeholders. This was part of Chevrolet’s Carbon Reduction Initiative, which reduced and retired 8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, including the Campus Clean Energy Campaign credits. Due to the success of the Campaign, which ended in 2015, many participating campuses desired to continue verifying and marketing emissions reductions. This led to the development of Second Nature’s C2P2.


For the initial pilot phase of C2P2, Second Nature partnered with the Climate Neutral Business Network and six participating schools within the Climate Leadership Network.


The goal of C2P2 is to help leading institutions of higher education access finance from the voluntary carbon market as a way to fund deeper emissions reductions on their campuses. All proceeds from the sale of carbon credits must be reinvested into sustainability projects on campus. As such, C2P2 accelerates progress towards campus carbon neutrality. All participating schools must be signatories of Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment or Climate Commitment; through C2P2 these schools can reach their carbon neutrality goals and interim targets at a faster rate.


As the manager of C2P2, Second Nature provides technical and logistical support to schools participating in the program. This includes:

Assisting schools in completing VCS required project documentation.
Processing all projects through our Carbon Registry account.
Securing and contracting with third party validators and verifiers.
Acting as Seller Agent for participating campuses when they wish to sell carbon credits.



Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified


Program 4

Climate Resilience in Urban Campuses + Communities (CRUX)

Climate Resilience in Urban Campuses + Communities (CRUX) is a multi-city partnership supported through a grant from the Kresge Foundation. As part of this initiative, Second Nature is working directly with six campuses and their community partners in three cities in the western United States (Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Portland) to evaluate the first two action steps in the recently launched Climate Commitment. The CRUX cohort will share learning among the campuses and with the Climate Leadership Network to accelerate resilience progress across the country.

Institutions participating in CRUX include:

California State University, Northridge
Los Angeles Valley College
Northridge Vision
Greater Valley Glen Neighborhood Council
Arizona State University
South Mountain Community College
Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona
Portland State University
Mt. Hood Community College
Portland Downtown Neighborhood Association
City of Gresham
City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Other partners include the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) and the New Knowledge Organization.

The CRUX project goals are to:

Facilitate implementation of a nationally-scalable strategy to develop climate resilience with campuses and communities, and
Learn with and from these clusters as they complete the first two benchmarks of the new framework. These two benchmarks are:
Create a campus/community task force or introduce the resilience planning framework into an existing campus/community structure
Complete a resilience capacity assessment including preliminary progress indicators


Support an organizational mapping process in each city to identify existing relational linkages and organizational priorities
Establish positions of CRUX Fellows and Ambassadors for each city
Establish pools of implementation funding for the CRUX clusters
Share learning and progress through Second Nature’s public reporting tool, national meetings, and team communication outlets
Complete an evaluation for the first two benchmarks in the Commitments to be shared across urban campuses and the national CLN



Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified


Program 5



How can climate action help your institution achieve its strategic goals? What is the value of implementing the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments on your campus? Second Nature is working to address these questions through the New England Climate Leadership Alignment Initiative (NECLAI). Building upon the Big Ten and Friends Sustainability Group’s work, NECLAI aims to help sustainability officers identify where and how their Commitments contribute to strategic priorities at their college or university. In 2016 a cohort of signatories worked with Second Nature over several months to 1) collect and analyze their institution’s strategic planning documents and map executive leadership priorities; 2) identify whether and how the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments contribute to these priorities; and 3) use these alignments to frame climate action initiatives on campus. Through these processes, NECLAI cohort members learned a new language for expressing the value of the Commitments on their campuses, which they used to:

Reinitiate conversations with executive leadership about the role of their Carbon or Climate Commitment in supporting strategic priorities;
Identify new allies and strategic partnerships to strengthen Commitment infrastructure, organizations, committees, or programming;
Better integrate their Commitments into campus-wide strategic planning;
Reframe existing or new sustainability planning documents around institution-level strategic priorities;
Deepen stakeholder understanding of the role of the Commitments in supporting their work.


NECLAI builds off of research and program development conducted by the Big Ten and Friends Sustainability Group and their consultant, Emilie Rex. In 2014, the fourteen schools in the Big Ten network were facing a reality familiar to many institutions in the U.S.:

Cuts in state spending per student ranged from 32.4% to 17.2% from fiscal years 2008-13.
The previous year, 69% of graduating seniors at public and private nonprofit colleges had student loans, owing an average of $28,400 in federal and private loans combined.
In 2011 Pew Research survey, 57% of Americans claimed higher education “fails to provide students with good value for the money their families spend.”

Aware that their executive leaders were attempting to address these priorities through institutional planning efforts, the Big Ten and Friends Sustainability Group developed the Big Ten Prospectus to understand how sustainability support this work and ultimately reinforce the relevance of sustainability initiatives to their institutions’ mission. This collective, self-organized effort pooled funds from all fourteen institutions and the University of Texas to: 1) map collective priorities through an analysis of each cohort member’s strategic planning documents, 2) identify whether and how sustainability contributes to these priorities, and 3) pilot metrics to measure these contributions. The Prospectus revealed a set of processes and new language for expressing the value of sustainability to executive leadership.

In 2016 Second Nature built on these processes to create the New England Climate Leadership Alignment Initiative. This was part of Second Nature’s regional focus. The cohort consists of twelve signatories of the Carbon and Climate Commitments, representing both public and private institutions from four New England states. The schools gathered in Boston for a one-day workshop to learn and practice the priority mapping and strategic alignment processes. Following the workshop, each participant applied the processes on their campus as a means for a different end. The cohort’s findings help identify common priority areas that the Commitments can contribute to, as well as ways that this process can be applied to increase the value of and support for climate action. While this was a regional initiative, the lessons learned and resources developed are relevant to all colleges and universities in the Climate Leadership Network.


Second Nature partnered with Sustainability Consultant Emilie Rex to
develop and implement this initiative.


The New England Climate Leadership Alignment Initiative aims to help sustainability officers at signatory institutions:

Identify mission-level strategic priorities and objectives at their college or university.
Increase the value of climate action by aligning Commitment activities with strategic priorities.
Increase collaboration and engagement with executive leadership at their college or university.

Based on the experiences and findings of the participating institutions, Second Nature has developed resources for the Climate Leadership Network outlining:

The priority mapping process, including examples from the NECLAI cohort.
The Commitment alignment process, including examples of how the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments can contribute to executive priorities.



Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified


Service Areas



Second Nature provides leadership in and for higher education throughout the United States.

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Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
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  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Second Nature, Inc.



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


Dr. Timothy Carter


Dr. Carter received his Ph.D. in Ecology with distinction from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia (UGA) and completed his B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. As a post-doc and faculty member at UGA his work focused on the intersection between urbanization and environmental management through studies of designer ecosystems, sustainable development, environmental policy, and climate change impacts on coastal areas, including visualizing sea level rise on the Georgia coast. In addition, Dr. Carter developed a sustainability plan for the school.

As the founding Director of Butler University's Center for Urban Ecology (CUE), Dr. Carter built the CUE from a fledgling unit with two interns and a program manager to a thriving academic center with over $3M in externally funded initiatives. Through partnerships Carter developed across the city of Indianapolis, as well as through his work with staff, faculty, students, and leadership at the university, the Center became not only a successful place for the study of ecology but also a participant in increasing the sustainability of the city and campus. CUE projects include collaborative installations between artists and scientists for informal science learning, creation of a community currency to encourage urban watershed conservation action, and the use of mobile device technology as an engagement strategy for residents of the city. The CUE also led efforts to develop Butler's climate strategy including signing the ACUPCC, developing Butler's Climate Action Plan, and hiring Butler's first sustainability officer.

Tim is married to Katy and has three children.


"Now, more than ever.

The black swan: it challenged ancient ornithologists and spawned a modern theory. Analogous to unexpected plumage on a common bird, Black Swan events are those that occur which:

1) are difficult, if not impossible, to predict, 2) have a huge impact and, 3) are retrospectively rationalized.

Black Swan theory has been applied to everything from financial systems to fashion. Many will point to the 2016 election as an additional example, and as I write this, the reflection on how wrong the prognosticators were as well as the veneration of those who “called it right" accelerates. Regardless of whether this was expected or inevitable, everyone can agree that the impact is huge.

In Second Nature's sphere, this impact centers on the global climate challenge. More specifically: can the collective action of higher education continue with scalable, innovative climate solutions within a country where federal leadership on the issue will likely tack in a radically different direction? Federal alignment clearly benefits the work, but it is equally clear that it isn't sufficient; the past eight years have shown that. The challenge is global, the scientific necessity for the response to change is rapid, and the levers for change must be cross-sectoral, cross-institutional, and cross-governmental.

In short, the climate challenge has always been, and will continue to be, a “wicked" problem that no single entity, program, or initiative can solve.

When presented with the possibility that our federal government may not continue to recognize the scale of the problem, it only puts a greater onus on other parties to step up: now is the time for us to do just that. We have a strong Network of leading schools committed to climate action, and many of our schools have joined with businesses in supporting the recently adopted Paris agreement. The economic case for investment in clean energy and cleantech is strong. And mayors and governors are moving ahead with energy transition efforts that were already going beyond what was proposed in the Clean Power Plan.

November 8 may have been seen by some as a Black Swan event; but it could also result in a Black Swan response. Could the lack of federal leadership actually accelerate progress faster than before? Can we mobilize solutions across jurisdictional boundaries in a way that was previously unthinkable? Can we go beyond placation or platitudes to continue the deep grind and hard work needed for systemic and transformative change? Have we challenged our own assumptions frequently enough and with enough rigor to ensure progress isn't simply a fragile or brittle truce but a long-term, robust solution?

Climate progress has been demonstrated to be possible and necessary. This moment ensures its urgency.


Timothy Carter, Ph.D.
President, Second Nature"



Ed Johnson

University Growth Solutions LLC

Term: July 2016 -


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