Portland State University will sell car giant Chevrolet carbon credits for two and a half years of energy efficiency projects totaling some 1,500 tons of avoided carbon emissions in a move to raise funds for further campus sustainability projects.
The deal is part of a comprehensive voluntary carbon reduction initiative by Chevrolet, launched in 2010 with the goal to prevent up to 8 million metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the earth’s atmosphere by investing in community-based carbon reduction projects across the country. Through this initiative, Chevrolet will buy and retire carbon credits, meaning they will not be used to offset emissions related to specific Chevrolet operations or products – or those at any other site.
To achieve its goals, Chevy worked with a number of Portland-based organizations and turned to PSU for its leadership in sustainability and efficient operations.
“Our Climate Action Plan has us making strides toward achieving net-zero emissions from campus operations by 2040, so naturally improving the energy efficiency of our buildings is high on our to-do list,” said Noel Mingo, Portland State University’s utility manager. “When Chevy approached us about purchasing the credits associated with the work we were doing, the timing was perfect.”
Chevrolet approached PSU through Portland-area partners to achieve its ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal. Portland-based nonprofit, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, served as Chevrolet’s buyer agent and managed transactions with 12 universities.
“This announcement by PSU is a major milestone in Chevrolet’s campaign to connect energy efficiency at universities to the national carbon markets that can help make that efficiency affordable for the schools,” said Angus Duncan, president of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. “Because energy efficiency often comes in small packages – lighting in this building, air handling in that one, a new furnace in a third – it’s been difficult to access carbon markets for financial support. The costs of verifying the savings, and of having or developing a credible methodology to do so, can swamp a small project; and energy efficiency projects almost always come in small sizes.
“Having Chevy step in to carry those front-end costs is going to make the pathway for the next campus project smoother, less steep, and more likely. Chevy is opening the door to a new category of market-based incentives by relying on the leadership shown by Portland State and the other schools involved.”
Through BEF, Chevrolet has identified and acquired carbon reductions at universities across the country, from projects as diverse as wind energy, forestry conservation, and energy efficiency.
Climate Neutral Business Network (CNBN), a consultancy based in the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego that specializes in helping Fortune 500 companies adopt climate-friendly practices, was hired by Chevy to manage the program.
“At CNBN we’re very happy to have played the matchmaking role, bringing PSU and a dozen other campuses around the country together with Chevrolet and GM in this important effort,” said Sue Hall, CEO, Climate Neutral Business Network. “These schools are the leaders, paving the way for other college campuses to follow. It’s no accident that Portland is at the epicenter of this groundbreaking carbon deal. The leadership shown by Portland State University and Bonneville Environmental Foundation is truly world class. And my organization, CNBN, wrote the third-party certified Verified Carbon Standard methodology which opened the door for campuses to access new carbon market funding.”
The carbon performance methodology enables campuses for the first time to make money via greenhouse gas reductions that result from energy efficiency.
“Chevrolet supports the cause for cleaner air,” said General Motors director of sustainability, David Tulauskas. “There are other ways to fuel the clean-energy movement beyond reducing the environmental impact of our own vehicles and facilities. To us, it’s also about finding the innovators who are doing big things to leave a smaller footprint. Portland State is aggressively reducing their impact on climate change and engaging the next generation along the way. This program enables them to reinvest even more in clean energy technologies and spread the benefits further.”
With a Climate Action Plan in place since 2010 and PSU President Wim Wiewel serving as chairman of the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment steering committee, Portland State’s leadership in climate action made it an attractive partner for Chevy’s carbon-reduction program.
PSU joins universities across the country who are also announcing carbon deals with Chevy to mark national Campus Sustainability Day, a day that celebrates climate action and sustainable education at U.S. universities. Other campuses announcing their participation in the Chevy Clean Energy Campus Campaign today include: Spelman College; Boston University; Rochester Institute of Technology; University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point; and the University of Illinois at Chicago.