Grand Valley joins Chevrolet to go green, combat carbon emissions

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Grand Valley State University is participating in a Chevrolet program to increase clean energy efforts and decrease carbon emissions. 

As part of Chevrolet’s Campus Clean Energy Efficiency Campaign, Grand Valley commits to continue its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. 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. 

Terry Pahl, facilities engineer at Grand Valley, applied for the program and said using energy-efficient practices is part of the campus culture at Grand Valley. To qualify for funding, Grand Valley 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. 

“A university is both chosen and evaluated based on either individual LEED certified buildings or a campus-wide energy efficiency performance,” said Pahl. “Grand Valley opted for the campus-wide performance program and 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.” 

During the last 15 years, Grand Valley has implemented more than 250 energy-saving projects and procedures. By the end of this calendar year, Grand Valley will be avoiding energy costs of at least $2 million annually through the use of energy-efficient practices, procedures and technology. Examples include various lighting projects, temperature setpoints 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. Examples include hosting energy contests in living centers and closing down housing units when unoccupied in the summer. Pahl said in fiscal year 2014, compared to 2003, Grand Valley decreased use of water by 39 percent, gas by 29 percent and electricity by 29 percent. 

“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.” 

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

Read a blog post written by Pahl for FastLane, a blog by General Motors: http://gvsu.edu/s/In

Grand Valley has received recognition for its sustainability efforts. For the second year, Grand Valley 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. Grand Valley has been named one of the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges by the Princeton Review for five years in a row.

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 Chevorlet’s voluntary carbon-reduction initiative to retire up to eight million tons of carbon dioxide in certified carbon projects across the country. The campus campaign is in collaboration with Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).