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Chevy helps school an Oregon campus on carbon credits

By: Michele Madia Greenbiz.com

Just as industry can learn much from academia, so, too, can academia benefit from industry’s leadership.

A new program initiated by Chevrolet demonstrates this in action. U.S. colleges can use the voluntary carbon market to turn their energy efficiency gains into carbon credits that they can sell to companies. They can reinvest the revenue they receive in even deeper carbon reductions to help them meet campus-wide commitments.

Second Nature talks with General Motors’ sustainability director, David Tulauskas, who manages the Chevy carbon-reduction initiative. He’s joined by Climate Neutral Business Network CEO Sue Hall, who wrote the new methodology and convened a third-party advisor group, including Professor Eban Goodstein from Bard College, to help guide Chevy in this unique partnership between industry and higher education. Sustainability coordinator Roxane Beigel-Coryell and student Shaun Franks from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore., and the United States Green Building Council’s vice president for research and development, Chris Pyke, also join our discussion.

Second Nature: What spurred Chevrolet to work with colleges in this way?

Just as industry can learn much from academia, so, too, can academia benefit from industry’s leadership.

A new program initiated by Chevrolet demonstrates this in action. U.S. colleges can use the voluntary carbon market to turn their energy efficiency gains into carbon credits that they can sell to companies. They can reinvest the revenue they receive in even deeper carbon reductions to help them meet campus-wide commitments.

Second Nature talks with General Motors’ sustainability director, David Tulauskas, who manages the Chevy carbon-reduction initiative. He’s joined by Climate Neutral Business Network CEO Sue Hall, who wrote the new methodology and convened a third-party advisor group, including Professor Eban Goodstein from Bard College, to help guide Chevy in this unique partnership between industry and higher education. Sustainability coordinator Roxane Beigel-Coryell and student Shaun Franks from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore., and the United States Green Building Council’s vice president for research and development, Chris Pyke, also join our discussion.

Second Nature: What spurred Chevrolet to work with colleges in this way?

David Tulauskas: Chevrolet supports the cause for cleaner air. We’re reimagining manufacturing to lower environmental impact and designing efficient vehicles. But there are other ways to fuel the clean-energy movement beyond transportation and industry. To us, it’s about finding the innovators who are doing big things to leave a smaller footprint.

As demonstrated by the leadership of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, colleges across the country are aggressively improving their energy efficiency and engaging the next generation along the way. By collaborating with strong higher education and NGO partners, we developed a way to monetize campuses’ progress, providing institutions with an entirely new source of capital from the U.S. voluntary carbon market to reinvest in even more clean energy technologies.

Second Nature: What is Chevrolet’s ultimate goal with this effort?

Tulauskas: This is all part of Chevrolet’s voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. Our goal is not only to remove 8 million metric tons of carbon from entering our air through supporting community-based projects that may have large-scale impact, but to get more people thinking about carbon and finding new ways to reduce it in their own backyard. Carbon may not be a conversation topic at your dining room table tonight, but we think it should be.

Second Nature: How did you develop the idea?

Tulauskas: We worked closely with a team of third-party environmental advisors and one of them, Professor Eban Goodstein of Bard College, recommended we develop an entirely new carbon credit methodology to empower universities and schools to bring forward eligible clean energy projects (whether for LEED-certified buildings or on acampus-wide basis) so that Chevy could purchase and retire credits. The money would help them drive even deeper carbon reductions. It was a novel approach.

Eban Goodstein: In the past, 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.

Second Nature: How can Chevy credibly purchase carbon from campuses?

Sue Hall: All Chevy’s carbon project purchases have been independently certified by groups such as the Verified Carbon Standard. So in order for campuses to be able to sell their clean energy project reductions as carbon credits, Chevy had to develop an entirely new VCS Campus Clean Energy Efficiency methodology against which a campus would certify its carbon reductions.

 

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