Southern Oregon University Sells Carbon Credits to Chevrolet
Campus Engages Students on Clean Energy Efforts
August 27, 2014 /3BL Media/ - Southern Oregon University is participating in Chevrolet’s carbon-reduction initiative. It is selling carbon credits for the new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified Raider Village residence halls to Chevrolet for one year. This unique program enables the university to receive funding for reducing the campus’ carbon footprint through green building practices.
“Chevy’s efforts offer an exceptional opportunity to recognize top-performing, LEED-certified projects, while encouraging them to continue to operate in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate global climate change,” said Chris Pyke, Ph.D., vice president of research for the U.S. Green Building Council.
SOU has long been a leader in campus sustainability, adopting a Climate Action Plan in 2010. The plan outlines the university’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint 10 percent by 2020 and 100 percent by 2050. One of its strategies to reach carbon neutral is investing in green buildings, such as the LEED Gold-Certified Raider Village. The Village is the newest development in sustainable campus living and a unique experience that has no equal in the Oregon University System. The buildings feature daylit common spaces, variable refrigerant flow technology, and 153 kilowatts of solar photovoltaics.
In 2010, Chevrolet was also working to set carbon goals of its own beyond its efficient vehicles and responsible manufacturing efforts, striving to reduce up to 8 million tons of carbon dioxide in certified carbon projects across the country. To achieve this commitment, the company rolled out its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative. Most recently, it helped develop the methodology funding the energy efficiency work of universities like SOU.
Chevrolet is purchasing carbon from campus greenhouse gas reductions and retiring them, meaning the company will never use them to offset emissions related to its own operations or products.
Chevrolet and SOU first connected on this project during a conference last year, when student Shaun Franks introduced the opportunity to university staff. During the program’s validation process, SOU discovered that certain LEED buildings were not performing to their full potential. This is a common problem for building efforts which only focus on design and construction, and one of the reasons LEED increasingly emphasizes the need to link project goals with operational performance measures. Once aware of the opportunity for improvement, SOU engaged the student residents to help reduce energy use to achieve the buildings’ optimal performance.
“Discovering that the buildings weren’t performing to the design standards was just the push we needed to ramp up our student engagement efforts in the residence halls,” reflects Roxane Beigel-Coryell, sustainability and recycling coordinator, SOU. “It also underlines the importance of monitoring all campus buildings to ensure they are operating as efficiently as possible.”
This fall, student leaders will run an energy conservation campaign in the new halls to educate and engage student residents in the university’s conservation efforts.
“We know there are ways to fuel the clean-energy movement beyond our electric vehicles and use of renewables at our manufacturing facilities,” said David Tulauskas, director of sustainability at General Motors. “The leaders in the higher education community, like Southern Oregon University, are doing big things to leave a smaller footprint, and engaging their students along the way. This effort supports their ingenuity and continued investment in energy efficiency.”
SOU plans to use revenue from the carbon transaction to fund additional energy conservation projects on campus, such as lighting retrofits, equipment upgrades, or to expand existing solar arrays.
“SOU will further its clean energy leadership through this partnership with Chevrolet,” said Dr. Roy Saigo, President of Southern Oregon University. “The funds gained will be reinvested in carbon-reduction projects on campus that will brighten the future of our students and benefit our community.”
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.
Sustainability & Recycling Coordinator, Southern Oregon University
Sustainability Communications Manager, General Motors