Higher Education and Sustainability

Chevrolet taps GVSU for partnership

September 10, 2014
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GVSU Chevy Campaing
Through Chevrolet’s Campus Clean Energy Efficiency Campaign, Grand Valley’s carbon reductions will be certified as voluntary carbon credits and Chevrolet will pay the university for its reductions and permanently retire them to benefit the climate. Courtesy Grand Valley State University

A West Michigan university’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions are paying off.

Grand Valley State University is joining Chevrolet’s Campus Clean Energy Efficiency Campaign.

Through the partnership, Grand Valley’s carbon reductions will be certified as voluntary carbon credits and Chevrolet will pay the university for its reductions and permanently retire them to benefit the climate.

The program enables the university to receive funding for reducing the campus’ carbon footprint through energy efficiency improvements.

“A university is both chosen and evaluated based on either individual LEED-certified buildings or a campus-wide energy efficiency performance,” said Terry Pahl, facilities engineer at GVSU.

GVSU opted for the campus-wide energy efficiency performance program.

The school had to demonstrate that its energy-based greenhouse gas reductions on a campus-wide basis surpassed the performance of the top 15 percent of campuses in the nation to qualify for the funding.

Grand Valley is the only university in Michigan that has been chosen for Chevrolet’s program.

“The millions of dollars we save from energy efficiency improvements and the funds we’ll receive from Chevrolet allow us to reinvest in the university and our students,” Pahl said.

During the last 15 years, GVSU has implemented more than 250 energy-saving projects and procedures.

By the end of this calendar year, GVSU will be saving at least $2 million annually on energy costs through the use of energy-efficient practices, procedures and technology. Examples include various lighting projects, temperature set points and setbacks, building system infrastructure and energy education.

In addition, $1.5 million in energy costs have been avoided by one-time, energy-saving projects including hosting energy contests in living centers and closing down housing units when unoccupied in the summer.

GVSU has decreased use of water by 39 percent, gas by 29 percent and electricity by 29 percent since 2003, and has been recognized nationally for its sustainability efforts.

For the second consecutive year, GVSU became the only university in the state and one of 61 in the country to receive gold status after completing a sustainability program developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and the Sierra Club ranked the university one of the country’s greenest universities for the third year. The university has been named one of the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges by the Princeton Review for five years in a row.

“It’s tremendous to see such a relentless push toward energy efficiency at Grand Valley,” said David Tulauskas, director of sustainability at General Motors. “Although Michigan has many universities committed to sustainability leadership, Grand Valley State’s energy efficiency performance ranks among the best in the nation. It’s a ‘home-state’ campus that Chevrolet is proud to support.”

The Campus Clean Energy Efficiency Campaign, which began in 2013, uses a methodology that Chevrolet helped create that provides funding to purchase and retire carbon reductions sourced from clean energy efficiency projects on college and university campuses across the U.S. It contributes toward Chevrolet’s voluntary carbon-reduction initiative to retire up to 8 million tons of carbon dioxide in certified carbon projects across the country.

The campus campaign is in collaboration with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and the U.S. Green Building Council.

Pahl will present more about the project at Sustainability Spotlight, from 6-9 p.m., Sept. 16, at the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons on the Allendale Campus. He will join others from GVSU who will share their sustainability-related work with the campus community.

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