Chevy buying carbon credits from US colleges; new formula helps fund campus energy-efficient projects
12 February 2014
Chevrolet is investing in clean energy efficiency initiatives of US colleges and universities through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. The funding opportunity is open to all US universities and colleges; a campus determines whether its performance in reducing carbon emissions will qualify based on new methodologies that Chevrolet developed through the Verified Carbon Standard.
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 US Green Building Council and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
There are two avenues through which campuses can determine their eligibility to receive project funding:
- Individual LEED Certified Buildings
- Campus-Wide Performance
The Chevrolet methodology establishes a benchmark performance based upon the top 15% emission reduction performance of all 600+ ACUPCC schools, segmented by Carnegie category and emissions type (stationary 1 and scope 2 electricity). This represents approximately an annual emission reduction of about 5% per year. Schools that fall into this category, and also have reduced annually their combined stationary 1 and scope 2 electricity-based emissions, are eligible to sell and transfer to Chevrolet those certified credits associated with any incremental emission reduction initiatives.
This marks the first time college campuses can use carbon performance methodologies to make money via greenhouse gas reductions that result from energy efficiency. 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. 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.—Eban Goodstein, director of Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy in New York
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 US college.
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.—Robert Koester, professor of architecture and chair of the Ball State University Council on the Environment
For the last two years, Chevrolet has been the largest US 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.
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