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Leonardo Academy History Overview PDF Print E-mail

Founder & President Michael ArnyFounding
Leonardo Academy is a charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1997 by its president, Michael Arny, to advance sustainability and environmental improvement. At that time, Michael Arny was the Co-Chair of the Wisconsin State Committee that had developed a state-wide emissions inventory and reduction cost study that covered all emissions sources in Wisconsin, including those that affect climate and human health. This study documented the need for action to reduce emissions and the tremendous practical opportunities that exist for reducing these emissions.

Having been a utility regulator for 14 years, Michael recognized the need for putting the competitive market to work on achieving environmental objectives in addition to legislation and regulation; hence, Leonardo Academy was created. Since that time Leonardo Academy has worked on a broad range of interconnected environmental and sustainability issues including emissions, financing building efficiency and emission reductions, buildings, transportation and agriculture. 

Core Strategies
Leonardo Academy's core strategies are to advance sustainability by making sustainability actions practical, create a broad understanding of sustainability actions, and to engage the competitive market in driving increased sustainability and environmental improvement. We do this by: (1) Providing consumers with information and tools that make it easy for them to make choices in their daily lives that promote sustainability, including making “green” purchasing decisions ; (2) Providing companies and organizations with information and tools that make it easy for them to make choices that promote sustainability including making purchasing decisions that green their supply chain, document their sustainability achievements, and communicate this to customers and potential customers.

Areas of Actions and Achievements

Increasing Public Understanding of Emissions Issues
In 1998 Leonardo Academy prepared the reports, "Consumer Guide to Green Energy Choices" and "Strategies for Protecting and Increasing the Delivery of Renewable Electricity," with funding from the Joyce Foundation. We also led a multi-stakeholder process that year to develop "The Multi-Pollutant Emission Reduction Reporting System."  This report describes a consensus-based standard developed for a multiple-pollutant approach to emission reduction reporting. Addressing multiple pollutants at the same time created opportunities for lower-cost emission reduction options.

Cleaner and Greener ProgramIn 1999 we created the Cleaner and Greener® program to recognize actions and achievements in emission reductions for companies, organizations, buildings and events.

In 2003 we posted an emissions calculator on our web site to help companies, families and individuals quantify their emissions.

In 2010 we completed a National Standard for Emissions Reporting (LEO-5000), which was developed using the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) process. This standard covers the full range of pollutants, including those that affect climate and those that affect human health.

Promoting Use of Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) to Finance Efficiency and Emissions Reductions
From 2003-2007 Leonardo Academy promoted the use of ESPC by state and local governments to finance and implement energy efficiency and emissions reduction actions. We promoted use of International Measurement and Verification Protocol to provide metrics for ESCP.

We worked as a contractor to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and U.S. Department of Energy to help form the new organization, Energy Services Coalition to promote use of ESPC by state and local governments to implement energy efficiency and emissions reductions (barrier removal). We also provided executive director and management services for the Energy Services Coalition. The Energy Services Coalition continues to promote ESPC to deliver energy efficiency and emissions reductions to this day.

In 2008 we prepared the report, "The Energy Savings and Environmental Benefits Delivered by the Energy Savings Performance Contracting Industry".

Promoting Sustainable Buildings with LEED®Clinton Presidential Library
Leonardo Academy has been deeply involved in the development of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) since we joined the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1999. We have been particularly involved in the development of the USGBC’s LEED-EB Rating System since 2000, including chairing the LEED-EB committee from 2001-2005, managing the pilot, and conducting all LEED-EB certification reviews for the USGBC from 2002-2007. We continue to do reviews for the USGBC.

In 2007, Leonardo Academy launched its LEED certification consulting service by helping the William J. Clinton Presidential Library go from a LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) Silver rating to a LEED-EB Platinum rating.

To date, Leonardo Academy has helped more than 600 buildings through the LEED process, and conducted LEED-EB assessments on over 84 buildings representing over 30 million square feet of building space. This includes a broad range of building uses (space types); single and multi-tenant office buildings, manufacturing, call centers, service centers, libraries and museums. We have consulted on LEED implementation and certification for 34 projects representing over 21 million square feet of building space.
Transportation and Stationary Engine Emissions ReductionsSchneider National emissions reduction project
In 2009 Leonardo Academy created its Transportation Program. It has brought mobile and stationary engine owners together with efficiency and emission reduction manufacturers to identify practical efficiency and emission reduction opportunities.  Leonardo Academy has helped secure more than $9 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state agency grants to support engine emission reductions.

In 2012, to promote the use of alternative fuels, Leonardo Academy developed and released a free mobile app that makes is easy to locate alternative fuels refueling stations.

Sustainable AgricultureSustainable agriculture
Leonardo Academy has been developing a national sustainable agriculture standard (LEO-4000) since 2008 using the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) process. The LEO-4000 standard will empower producers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers to promote increased sustainability in agriculture by providing clear requirements, performance metrics, verification, traceability and an effective branding language for sustainable agriculture production that is unprecedented. The pilot testing and launch will occur in 2013 and be followed in 2014 and 2015 by ongoing work on expanding the use of the standard in the marketplace.

Valley Ridge Preserve in WISustainable Land Management
The Valley Ridge Preserve is a 145-acre parcel in Richland County, Wisconsin that was donated to Leonardo Academy in January 2008. The preserve is largely covered in woodlands with areas of remnant oak savannah and about 30 acres in former farm fields. Leonardo Academy is restoring the oak savannah, maintaining the forests and working to convert the fields to native prairie over time. Our goal is for the preserve to provide a model that demonstrates sustainable land management practices to other land owners. 
IMF Headquarters 2Sustainable Organizations
Since 1997 Leonardo Academy has helped companies and organizations understand, quantify and communicate their overall sustainability and emissions footprints. We help clients use the synergies of sustainability to drive corporate success and create new business models that integrate sustainability into day-to-day “business as usual” operations. Some of our clients include the International Monetary Fund and Apogee.

Sustainable Manufacturing
In 2001, Leonardo Academy supported the development of the guide, “Energy Efficiency Toolkit for Manufacturers, Eight Proven Ways to Reduce Your Costs” – a publication of the National Manufacturers Association. That year we also developed the guide, “Energy Efficiency, Water and Waste Reduction for Manufacturers, Proven Ways to Reduce Your Costs and Improve Operations.”

In 2007, Leonardo Academy helped Quad Graphics, a leading global provider of print for the multi-media market, implement LEED for Existing Buildings and earn LEED certification for one of its printing plants.

Sustainable Forests
In 2010, Leonardo Academy completed development of a National Standard for Emissions Reporting (LEO-5000) using the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) process. This standard provides full recognition of the benefits of holding of carbon in forests, grass lands and crop lands.

Sustainability for Conferences and EventsSustainable Events
In 2001 the Cleaner and Greener® Program was launched to recognize emission reduction actions of conferences, meetings and events.  Since 2001, Leonardo academy has quantified the emissions and emission reduction actions for more than 77 conferences and events, including the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo from 2002-2011. In 2010, reduction of exhibit hall environmental impacts was added to the Cleaner and Greener® program.

Increasing the Understanding of Sustainability
Leonardo Academy has developed and delivered training since 2002 to increase understanding of sustainability and actions to increase sustainability. Training is delivered through live webinars, on-demand, and in person. Many courses are approved for continuing education credit by the USGBC and AIA/CES.

Taking Stock and Looking Forward
Since Leonardo Academy’s founding in 1997, we have successfully extended our reach to advance sustainability and improve the environment in buildings, organizations, events, transportation, and more.  But the challenges we face are great and there is much more to be done.  Leonardo Academy is vigorously engaged in addressing these challenges to transform the way we live today and ensure the prosperity of future generations.

Sources of Inspiration for the Founding of Leonardo Academy

Source of Leonardo Academy’s Name


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