The Rocky Mountain Institute and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education are partnering with a dozen colleges to study best practices in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other strategies to battle climate change.

The institute announced the project and the selection of the 12 participating colleges and universities yesterday. RMI researchers Michael Kinsley and Sally DeLeon began traveling to the schools this week to study the campuses' efforts to reduce their carbon footprints, RMI spokesman Cory Lowe told GreenBiz.

In seeking the best of the best practices at the colleges and universities, the team is also looking for strategies with strong potential for broader application.

"We hope that the solutions we come up with on the campuses will apply to communities and businesses as well," Lowe said.

"As a microcosm of larger human settlements such as cities and counties, a college campus is an ideal place to model future communitywide solutions," Kinsley of RMI's Built Environment Team said in a statement. "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."

The 12 campuses selected for the project are Harford Community College in Bel Air, Md., Richland College in Dallas, Texas, Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis., the University of Minnesota at Morris, Minn., Furman University in Greenville, S.C., Unity College in Unity, Maine, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt., University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., Tufts University in Medford-Somerville, Mass., and Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The goal is to complete the campus visits and studies by January, said Lowe. In addition to workshops at the schools in spring and follow-up interviews involving the campuses and other colleges, the team is to develop a web-based framework — called the "Accelerating Campus Climate-Change Initiatives" — as a resource for all schools.