New carbon-reduction formula helps fund campus energy-efficient projects
DETROIT – Chevrolet is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of U.S. colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. The brand helped develop a formula where campuses can earn money for certain upgrades that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This marks the first time college campuses can use carbon performance methodologies to make money via greenhouse gas reductions that result from energy efficiency. As carbon emissions continue to contribute to the warming of the earth, such funding enables universities to reduce their impact and save money on utility bills while engaging and educating students in their efforts. The funding opportunity is timely given that 675 campuses have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions.
“Historically, campuses purchased other organizations’ carbon credits to help achieve carbon neutrality,” said Eban Goodstein, director of Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy in New York. “Now they are earning revenues for the carbon reductions achieved right on their own sites, where the long-term clean energy benefits lie for their community.”
Campuses are increasingly pursuing aggressive clean energy efficiency efforts from installing more efficient building equipment to using renewable energy to help power operations. With this initiative, Chevrolet will buy and retire carbon credits resulting from some campuses’ greenhouse gas reductions from either their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings or other campuswide energy-saving initiatives.
Chevrolet is dedicated to securing a cleaner energy future through efficient vehicles, responsible manufacturing and supporting community-based carbon-reduction projects.
“Electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV drawing electricity from a cleaner energy infrastructure is a win-win for our customers and the environment,” said David Tulauskas, GM director of sustainability. “The Chevrolet carbon-reduction initiative is about supporting the ingenious ways people are reducing their carbon emissions, like the efforts of leaders driving the higher education sustainability movement.”
For the last two years, Chevrolet has been the largest U.S. corporate buyer of voluntary carbon credits by volume, according to the nonprofit Forest Trends Ecosystem Marketplace. The brand has supported many projects, from helping a landfill heat a hospital with methane gas to helping truckers avoid idling their engines at rest stops. The initiative is part of the brand’s voluntary goal set in 2010 to prevent up to 8 million metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the earth’s atmosphere. That’s like the annual carbon reduction benefit of a mature forest the size of Yellowstone.
With this next phase, Chevrolet aims to spur even more carbon-reduction activities that benefit college campuses, their communities and job creation.
To develop the new methodologies, Chevrolet worked with an advisory team led by the Climate Neutral Business Network with support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The methodologies have been approved through the Verified Carbon Standard.
Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. and Valencia College in Orlando, Fla. are among the first to apply these new methodologies with pilot projects, confirming that funding such as Chevrolet’s is strategic to their other efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.
Chevrolet’s funds will be used for additional energy efficiency retrofits at Valencia. Ball State’s pilot involves selling some of the carbon reductions from installing the largest geothermal system at a U.S. college.
Said Robert Koester, professor of architecture and chair of the Ball State University Council on the Environment: “Without such third-party financing of this type, most colleges and universities would not be able to capitalize on the more significant investments needed to bring down their carbon load on the atmosphere.”