Valencia College is one of two schools in the nation—and the only community college—to be selected by Chevy for a pilot program in support of clean energy initiatives. Through its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative, Chevrolet helped develop a formula through which campuses can earn money for certain upgrades that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This marks the first time college campuses can use carbon performance methodologies to make money via greenhouse gas reductions that result from energy efficiency. As carbon emissions continue to contribute to the warming of the earth, such funding enables colleges and universities to reduce their impact and save money on utility bills while engaging and educating students in their efforts. The funding opportunity is timely given that 679 campuses, including Valencia, have pledged toreduce their carbon emissions.
“As carbon markets develop in the future, colleges and universities will be able to have their energy use reduction credits certified and sell them. It is exciting work,” said Deborah Green, director of sustainability at Valencia College.
Campuses are increasingly pursuing aggressive clean-energy efficiency efforts, from installing more efficient building equipment to using renewable energy to help power operations. With this initiative, Chevrolet will buy carbon credits resulting from some campuses’ greenhouse gas reductions from either their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings or other campuswide energy-saving initiatives. Four of Valencia’s newest buildings have each received LEED certification at the Gold level: Building 4 on the Osceola Campus; and the University Center, Allied Health Sciences Building and Special Events Center on the West Campus.
Valencia and Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. are among the first to apply these new methodologies with pilot projects, confirming that funding such as Chevrolet’s is strategic to their other efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. The funding from Chevrolet, estimated to reach up to $250,000 over three years, will be used for additional energy efficiency projects at Valencia.
“The Chevrolet carbon-reduction initiative is about supporting the ingenious ways people are reducing their carbon emissions, like the efforts of leaders driving the higher education sustainability movement,” said David Tulauskas, GM director of sustainability.
For the last two years, Chevrolet has been the largest U.S. corporate buyer of voluntary carbon credits by volume, according to the nonprofit Forest Trends Ecosystem Marketplace. Chevy has supported many projects, from helping a landfill heat a hospital with methane gas to helping truckers avoid idling their engines at rest stops. The initiative is part of Chevy’s voluntary goal set in 2010 to prevent up to 8 million metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the earth’s atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of the annual carbon reduction benefit of a mature forest the size of Yellowstone.
Dr. Allen Bottorff, Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability, notes that by “focusing on purchased electricity, Valencia College has made rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Lighting retrofits, chiller plant and other heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades and the implementation of a highly functional Building Automation System have been pursued, with improvements ongoing. A behavioral energy efficiency (Energy Education) program was established in summer 2011 and within its first two years has reduced the college’s electricity costs by nearly $2 million.”
Founded in 1967, Valencia College is an innovative leader in higher education with a national reputation for teaching excellence. In 2011, the college was named the top community college in the nation by the Aspen Institute, based on the strength of its graduation and transfer rates, especially among minority students, as well as the high job placement rates of its workforce training programs. Valencia was also awarded the prestigious STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for its sustainability programs, which include energy efficiency.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.5 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.