Ball State teams with Chevrolet to go green: New carbon methodology brings value to campus energy efforts

Topic: Geothermal

February 12, 2014

Chevrolet has chosen Ball State University in Indiana as a key partner in its campaign to support clean energy efficiency initiatives. The auto company’s partnership with Ball State and support of campus carbon reduction projects in general is part of its broader commitment to preventing up to 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the air over the next five years.

Ball State will be conducting a research study that validates Chevrolet’s first-of-its-kind carbon-reduction performance methodology, the standards against which carbon reduction projects can be certified. Ball State will pioneer the application of these new performance methodologies with a pilot project that involves the university’s installation of the largest geothermal system of its kind in the nation. Integrated with its validation effort, Ball State will provide a three-year carbon market study of its experience using the new performance methodology as it works to help Chevrolet meet its goal.

If a college’s campuswide energy efficiency performance qualifies under the newly validated methodology, its beyond-business-as-usual greenhouse gas reductions are verified as voluntary carbon credits. Chevrolet, and potentially other entities in the future, would then pay campuses for these certified reductions and permanently retire them to benefit the climate. With 675 campuses pledging to go carbon neutral, funding like this from Chevrolet can help deliver even more aggressive performance to help them reach their goals.

These types of projects can yield significant financial returns; Ball State estimated over an 11 percent return on investment based on the incremental capital costs. But initial financing is still a hurdle for many colleges and universities. Robert Koester, professor of architecture and chair of the Ball State University Council on the Environment said, “Without third party financial support of this type, many colleges and universities would not be able to capitalize the more significant investments needed to bring down their carbon load on the atmosphere.”

In addition to financial benefits for the university, students gain valuable experience and insights from initiatives such as these. They get to learn first-hand how a complex institution can make positive change, how to share such improvements with the members of their academic community and even participate in real-time academic research associated with those achievements. Certainly, as they graduate and become sustainability leaders in their own communities, the far-reaching effects of these initiatives will be multiplied.

Randy Howard, Ball State’s vice president for business affairs and treasurer said, “We are proud to partner with Chevrolet on this important initiative. Our geothermal project is true to Ball State’s tradition of innovation. We continue to look for bold ways to address challenging problems and find the intersection of fiscal and environmental stewardship. Chevrolet’s corporate leadership will make efforts like this even more feasible in the future.”

Chevrolet is dedicated to securing a clean energy future worth driving toward, through its vehicles, its manufacturing process and its support of community-based carbon-reduction projects. Building on its leadership as the largest U.S. corporate buyer of voluntary carbon credits by volume for the last two years according to the nonprofit Forest Trends Ecosystem Marketplace, Chevrolet hopes to spur even more carbon-reduction activities that positively impact communities, jobs and now students and their campuses.

“For cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV to fully live up to their potential, they need to run on a clean-energy infrastructure,” said GM Director of Sustainability David Tulauskas. “The Chevrolet Carbon-Reduction initiative is about supporting the ingenious ways people are reducing their footprint, like the leaders driving the higher education sustainability movement.”

To develop the 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. These performance methodologies are pending certification through the Verified Carbon Standard.

Visit Chevrolet's website for more information about its carbon reduction initiative and Ball State’s geothermal website (bsu.edu/geothermal) to learn more about its innovative geothermal project and other ways it is a national leader in energy efficiency and sustainability.

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