Selling Carbon Reductions

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Celebrating the Chevy Campus Clean Energy Campaign during Campus Sustainability Day.

This summer, Boston University finalized the sale of carbon reductions to Chevrolet through the Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign.

Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign

In 2010, Chevrolet made a commitment to target up to eight million tons of carbon reductions by 2015. This commitment is comparable to BU reducing its emissions to zero for sixty-five years or equivalent to a year’s worth of CO2 emissions for 730,000 US homes. Chevy’s efforts began with reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve the remainder of the 8 million tons committed through the initiative, Chevrolet sought out schools and colleges across the country demonstrating leadership in clean energy.

“Campuses such as Boston University are aggressively reducing their carbon footprint,” said David Tulauskas, GM sustainability director. “We want to support their efforts and provide the ammo they need to continue investing in clean energy technologies. After all, we know a clean energy future goes beyond what one company or organization can do; it’s about collaborating with others to make an even bigger impact.”

BU’s Participation

On National Campus Sustainability Day 2014 BU announced it intended to sell some of its carbon reductions through the Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign. In the summer of 2015, Chevrolet purchased Boston University’s verified carbon units (VCUs) and permanently retired them, furthering Chevy’s effort to retire carbon reductions across America for the benefit of the climate.

“We are excited to be invited to participate in the Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign,” said Boston University sustainability director Dennis Carlberg. “It’s a win for BU with funds building our Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund, it’s a win for the environment with these carbon credits being retired, and a win for Chevy as they work to strengthen the clean energy infrastructure needed for their line of electric vehicles.”

Students celebrated this milestone by sharing their clean energy and campus insights on chalkboard carbon towers set out in the student union, taking photo ‘selfies’ and posting to Twitter using the hashtag #CleanEnergyU. Student enthusiasm for BU’s collective clean energy progress generated a resounding buzz on Twitter, with #CleanEnergyU garnering over 1 million social media impressions that same day.

Since then, #CleanEnergyU has gained over 8 million impressions and was top trending on Earth Day 2015. sustainability@BU continues to lead and facilitate a series of cross-sector #CleanEnergyU dialogues, in which students engage – both virtually and in-person – with global clean energy leaders of NGOs,  business, academia and more.

How did we do it?

While the University has made progress through energy efficiency projects to decrease our electricity consumption, the carbon reductions sold to Chevrolet come from reductions of the greenhouse gases we generate directly from burning fossil fuels on campus to heat our buildings. The reductions come from two sources: energy efficiency and fuel switching. Building automation and equipment upgrades have provided significant energy savings. In 2006, 26% of the University’s energy use came from burning oil on campus, but now only 3% does as natural gas has displaced most of the oil. To validate and verify the University’s reductions, Chevy used a rigorous methodology created and approved by the Verified Carbon Standard, the most widely used voluntary carbon reduction program in the world. This ensures that our reductions were permanent.

Why did we sell them?

Many energy efficiency projects on campus are funded through the Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund, a fund that is continually replenished by the cost savings from completed energy projects. Chevrolet’s purchase of the University’s VCUs makes a significant contribution to the loan fund, allowing us to reinvest the money received to increase the fund and speed our climate progress.

The third-party validation and verification process was conducted by DNV-GL and the APX VCS Registry Team, an important layer of accountability in certifying carbon reductions, introduced a higher level of rigor in reporting the University’s greenhouse gas reductions. Beyond using the same calculator as other campuses across the country, the process ensured that we have a more robust methodology in place for reporting our carbon footprint to third-parties like STARS annually.

Boston University joins Ball State University, Valencia College, Spelman College, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to retire greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy generation. Other campuses participating in the Campus Clean Energy Campaign include the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Wisconsin at Steven’s Point, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Portland State University.

 

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