The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), which has built several LEED Certified Buildings in the past several years, is selling an estimated 770 metric tons of certified carbon credits to Chevrolet, which is retiring them on behalf of the environment.
“We are pleased to be able to form a partnership that demonstrates the environmental and economic value of green buildings, such as Douglas Hall, and to tap into funding for our Sustainability Internship Program that provides economic and social benefit for our students,” said Dr. Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability. “Chevrolet has rewarded these positive steps by joining with the departments and donors to provide nearly $30,000 to help campus achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.”
The campus committed to the reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 through strategies delineated in UIC’s Climate Action Plan. These include energy efficiency, on and off-site renewable energy, advancing active transportation, and diverting materials from the landfill through recycling and composting. The campus received recognition of these and other sustainability efforts by receiving a Silver Rating in the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking and Rating System. This represents progress over its 2009 Bronze-level rating. In addition, UIC has been the recipient of three Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards, including the latest in 2014.
Although actual figures will not be determined until campus carbon credits are verified by an independent agency and certified by the Verified Carbon Standard, the campus expects to transfer approximately 770 tons of reduction from fiscal years 2013-14 to the Chevrolet initiative. These reductions arise from the energy efficiency technologies in Douglas Hall, a LEED Gold certified building. It uses renewable energy sources derived from 245 rooftop solar photovoltaic panels and geothermal ground source heating and cooling. Combine these with highly efficient lighting and daylighting, occupancy detectors, a heat recovery wheel, efficient windows, and a heat load-detection system, Douglas Hall exceeds the energy code at time of construction by 27%. Between the funding from Chevrolet and funds provided by campus units and donors, this partnership will bring in nearly $30,000 to support the internship program.
The Climate Neutral Business Network helped Chevrolet develop the methodology by which campuses can earn money for certain upgrades that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is part of the brand’s Carbon Reduction Initiative to purchase up to 8 million tons of carbon credits from a variety of clean energy projects and technologies in communities across the United States. The nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) works on behalf of Chevrolet to manage the transactions.
The agreement with UIC is Chevrolet’s second LEED Building project to date. BEF is retiring the carbon credits for the benefit of the environment, meaning they will not be used to offset emissions related to specific Chevrolet operations or products — or those at any other site.
“At Chevrolet, we’re working to improve not only the efficiency of our vehicles, but the facilities that make them,” said GM Sustainability Director David Tulauskas. “But we know there are more opportunities to help fuel the clean energy movement beyond our own operations. We support the ingenious ways colleges such as University of Illinois at Chicago are reducing their carbon footprint and spreading awareness of the benefits of a clean energy future.”
Based on analyses of a typical LEED or campus-wide project, this funding could support campus clean energy efficiency projects by contributing a 5-25% return on the incremental capital needed, based upon USGBC’s estimated $3/sq ft incremental cost to achieve LEED certifiable levels of performance and carbon values of $5-10/ton.
In recognition of Campus Sustainability Day, UIC is proud to be joining five other schools who are announcing their participation in the program: Spelman College, Atlanta, Boston University, MA, Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, WI, and Portland State University, OR.
Follow the sustainability conversation on Twitter and tell Chevrolet about campus clean-energy efforts at #CleanEnergyU.
The Office of Sustainability, established in January 2008, forms the focal point for coordinating sustainability initiatives on campus by receiving information, tracking data, and assessing progress. This is accomplished through involvement in institutional and programmatic planning, information dissemination, providing guidance, reporting, and acting as a resource on sustainability in higher education. For more information visit http://sustainability.uic.edu .
UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For information about UIC, visit www.uic.edu.