It's been said the only people who can change the world are those who want to. Well, we want to. That's why we are exploring more fuel-efficient options and technologies with our vehicles. But we want to do more.
Over the next few years, we’ll be investing up to $40 million in projects that will help reduce up to 8 million metric tons† of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That's like planting a forest the size of Yellowstone†.
We’re also collaborating with US colleges, K-12 schools and stakeholders across the country to strengthen their investment in clean energy efficiency projects on school campuses. You can learn more about our goal to purchase and retire up to 500,000 tons of carbon credits through our Campus Clean Energy Campaign at the “UNIVERSITY/CAMPUS” tab above.
We’ve chosen projects we believe will make a lasting difference in communities across the country. Progress is already
underway, and we estimate it will take up to five years to achieve our initial goal. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but every
project is a step in the right direction.
As carbon dioxide emissions are reduced, we’ll record our progress using the monitor below. Check back frequently
to see how much CO2 the initiative will reduce.
* Committed tons are estimated totals.
As part of Chevrolet’s Carbon Reduction Initiative with the goal of reducing up to 8 million metric tons of CO2, we’re launching the Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign which provides funding to purchase and retire carbon reductions arising from clean energy efficiency projects on U.S. college and school campuses in a collaboration with stakeholders across the country such as US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
The Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign objective is simple: strengthen the clean energy systems across the country that we want to be powering electric vehicles like our Volt and Spark EV while retiring carbon to benefit the climate through an ingenious collaboration between new carbon market funding sources and US campuses striving for clean energy leadership. Chevrolet is helping to invest in a clean energy future worth driving towards, not only in its vehicles, but also in our communities.
The value of carbon funding can significantly contribute to campus’ efforts to further accelerate its clean energy efficiency leadership. Funding can contribute 5-25% of the incremental capital needed to deliver clean energy efficiency performances at this leadership level: so the business case is compelling to spur even stronger campus clean energy leadership.
Campuses determine whether their performance in reducing carbon emissions through their clean energy efficiency leadership would qualify them to receive funding from Chevrolet. U.S. colleges and K-12 schools are eligible for application.
There are two eligible pathways through which campuses can earn credit funding from their energy efficiency carbon reductions: LEED certified individual buildings on campus or Campus-wide reductions (in either stationary 1 or scope 2 electricity emissions. Not for K-12 schools)
Some campuses are already piloting new projects with Chevrolet sharing why this opportunity is compelling from their point of view and what they have learned.
The new clean energy efficiency carbon credit projects will all be certified as carbon credits based upon a new carbon methodology soon to be approved by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) that Chevrolet developed. The new methodology allows campuses to sell and transfer their carbon credits to Chevrolet, who can then retire these carbon reductions to benefit the climate. The methodology was developed in collaboration with a broad group of stakeholders. Certification ensures that Chevy’s investments will be making a difference by investing in projects whose reductions go “beyond business as usual”.
Chevrolet is also particularly interested to support and recognize the ingenuity of the next generation of clean energy efficient entrepreneurs – the students themselves – through new awards and competitions. Such millennial leadership, in concert with the suite of clean energy projects Chevrolet is supporting across the country, will not only help power the next generation of electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV, it will help us all to find new roads to create a future worth driving towards.
We are using “carbon” as shorthand for greenhouse gases. They are measured in CO2 equivalents.
We’re investing in greenhouse gas-reducing projects in local communities here in America, like wind farms and solar and energy efficiency. We will reduce up to eight million metric tons of carbon dioxide through a variety of projects over the next few years.
In simple terms, we feel it’s the right thing to do. This program is an additional way to make a positive impact on the environment. We wanted to do more, today.
Here in America. In the cities and towns where we live. In addition to planting trees and investing in renewable energy projects, we are also planning to help communities and schools become more energy efficient. While our projects are still in the planning stage, the goal is to have an impact on a local level.
It will occur over the next few years. While it is difficult to say with certainty due to the size of the investment, we expect the benefit to be realized within a five-year period. We are ready to begin making investments now.
Our investments will be focused in three areas: energy efficiency (such as weatherization and building retrofits), renewable energy (such as solar and wind) and planting trees, and will be based right here in America.
We will estimate the carbon dioxide emissions that come from the vehicles we will sell between 11/18/2010 and 12/31/2011 as they are driven through the end of 2011 (we estimate sales of 1.9 million cars and trucks). Our calculation uses EPA estimates for combined fuel economy (fueleconomy.gov) and for the CO2 emissions that come from a gallon of gasoline. We also assumed that an average vehicles drives about 1,250 miles per month, or 15,000 miles in a year. If a vehicle is sold in January 2011, we will account for 15,000 miles, and if a vehicle is sold in December 2011, we will account for 1,250 miles. All told, we estimate this will add up to about 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
It’s a start. We know a lot more needs to be done, but we feel that investing in these projects is a positive step for our environment and for local communities. Whether it’s inspiring a driver to be more environmentally conscious or investing in a project that could create new jobs, we feel this program will make a positive contribution.
If you want to invest in carbon-reducing projects independently, there are a variety of companies that can help. Our partner is the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. If you’d like, click here to link directly to their site to learn how you can participate.
We are making our investments through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon. We will invest in projects that deliver third-party certified carbon dioxide reduction benefits.
To give you an idea how much 8 million metric tons is, according to epa.gov, it equals the CO2 emissions of one year of electricity use in 970,874 homes. Or like the annual carbon dioxide reduction from 1.7 million acres of pine forest. It’s a start. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.
Energy production is the largest large contributor, like coal-fired power plants. Transportation is also a significant factor. We want to help lead the world’s automakers in reducing CO2 emissions. Vehicles like Cruze Eco and plug-in Chevy Volt are steps in the right direction. So is investing in carbon-reducing projects.
We’re doing that too. And if you look at the improvements we’ve made over the past 10 years, we think you’ll agree. Are we there yet? No. And this effort doesn’t mean we’re going to slow down, either. We have lots of fuel-efficient vehicles, like the Chevy Cruze Eco (EPA-est. 42 MPG hwy) and Chevy Equinox (EPA-est. 32 MPG hwy). And then there’s the plug-in Chevrolet Volt, an electric-powered vehicle with a gas-powered range extender that can give you the best of both worlds. We’re also a leader in fuel cell technology, with test fleets in cities around the world. These initiatives show exactly where we’re headed.
We’re doing many things beyond making our cars more fuel efficient. Our Chevy Traverse is assembled in one of the country’s only LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) assembly plants. Several GM facilities have achieved landfill-free status, and many use renewable energy. We have two of the largest rooftop solar installations in the United States atop our parts warehouses in California. GM is also a member of the Wildlife Habitat Council, helping designate more than 870 acres in North America as habitat enhancement and restoration projects to provide food, water and homes for wildlife.
Chevrolet is only investing in projects that will be certified by third-party organizations, such as those recognized by the Climate Action Reserve, Voluntary Carbon Standard and the Gold Standard. These companies audit, verify and certify the carbon reductions. They establish that investments and their carbon dioxide reduction benefits are beyond “business as usual.” All our projects will be based in communities across America, so we can hold the project partners accountable.
We estimate it’s going to cost about $40 million.
Of course we are interested in selling cars, but we don’t expect this effort to prompt a short-term sales increase. Frankly, this isn’t the type of “incentive” that causes a rush in sales. This is really about making a positive statement to our customers. And letting them know that we are committed to doing the right thing.
If you don’t pay attention to your own energy efficiency, then you might call it greenwashing. But that’s not what we’re about here at Chevy. Since 1990, manufacturing and assembly plants where Chevy products are built have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 60%. And as of today, almost 50% of GM plants — many of which build Chevrolet vehicles—are landfill-free. We understand that we share this planet. We have been investing for years in our own facilities and vehicles to make them more energy efficient. Now, we want to reach out to the local communities and make them more energy efficient. Now, we want to reach out to the local communities and make a bit of a difference there, too. We want to do more. We want to do our part.
No. This is a Chevrolet initiative. The government had absolutely no role in this. This program is unrelated to regulatory requirements concerning fuel economy standards or climate change legislation. Chevrolet is making this commitment voluntarily.
A $40 million investment in anything is substantial. We’ll assess the benefits and evaluate next steps. We’ll also evaluate other environmental initiatives to see if there’s another way to help.
GM is profitable again and funding for this initiative comes from existing advertising budgets.
When a carbon-reducing project is developed (like a wind or solar project), third parties verify the amount of carbon that was reduced by the project (usually measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide). This verification also makes sure that project investments will make a difference. Credits equivalent to each metric ton are then created and sold on an open market. Organizations and individuals buy these credits, called carbon offsets. You can find a more in-depth definition at howstuffworks.com.
A carbon footprint is an estimate of how much carbon is generated to support the everyday activities of a company (or person). If you use lights, air conditioning, heat, ride a bus, travel by train, drive a car, use a stove, buy clothes, use a cell phone, own a pet, watch TV, or do just about anything else in the civilized world, you have a carbon footprint. It’s typically measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere annually.
That’s ok. Chevrolet is not increasing the price of its vehicles to pay for this program. To pay for the effort, we are spending $40 million less on consumer advertising. And we’re not asking our customers to espouse any particular views on the environment. Chevrolet has determined that there are many worthwhile energy projects to support, and has decided to make this commitment to help make a positive impact.
There are a number of other companies involved in carbon-reducing projects, but nothing like this on this scale. And frankly, this is not about being first or best. It’s about doing what’s right. We applaud every company that has stepped up and gone the extra mile. The more, the better.
To retire the carbon reductions on behalf of the climate. Chevy is not offsetting its own emissions (operational or product); it is making investments in campus clean efficiency projects to help reduce GHG emissions, which it will permanently safeguard as reductions to benefit the climate.
No; those campuses which sell reductions to be retired by Chevy on behalf of the climate will not be able to report these reductions against their own inventories for the years in which they have sold them to Chevy. Many campuses are looking to sell reductions to Chevy for a few years in order to advance their clean energy/GHG leadership; as their internal GHG reduction goals approach, they will no longer sell reductions in order to have them count towards their own goals on their own GHG inventories.
So most campuses have been interested to earn carbon revenues for a limited period of time so that, once they are no longer selling their reductions, they can going forward count them against their own long-term reduction goals.
No; projects need to have secured “sign off” from their utilities that the associated carbon reductions will not be double-claimed by the utility for the duration of the sale of the carbon to Chevy, so that it can be credibly retired on behalf of the climate.
Each project has been certified as additional by the independent Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) against a new methodology Chevy developed, in concert with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, which was approved and accredited by the VCS. This means that the projects’ carbon reductions are considered “beyond business as usual”: each project must undergo an evaluation to validate that they meet the additionality and other credible foundation that the VCS methodology requires. Under the new VCS Campus Clean Energy methodology, this means that the energy/GHG performance which the campus has delivered must either be amongst the top 15% of its peers, on a campus-wide comparison basis with its Carnegie class peers, or is among the top 50% of LEED certified buildings on US campuses today. This approach to defining additionality is defined by VCS as a standardized or performance methodology—because “beyond business as usual” is defined in terms of delivering an outstanding level of energy/GHG performance in a campus’ category. This also means that we can be confident that the campus’ performance, in terms of clean energy efficiency and carbon reductions, is exemplary.
The carbon funding from Chevy enables campuses to further deepen their clean energy efficiency and carbon reduction leadership – to continue to excel in the level of performance that they achieve.
Chevy’s Advisors recommended that Chevy develop a new methodology that would enable campuses to draw upon a new source of funding – carbon credits from the carbon market – in ways that would help them invest in clean energy efficient technologies that might otherwise be out of reach to attain a leadership level of GHG performance. Campuses have in the past set carbon neutral goals and purchased carbon reductions; but this sends campus’ own funds off to another institution to make GHG reductions there. Chevy wanted to create an avenue through which campuses could themselves receive carbon monies to bring the benefits of these GHG reductions home to their own campus sites and communities.
In contrast to technology-based credits, performance methodologies don’t micromanage what it takes to deliver aggressive emission reduction performance outcomes, which can vary by region and context. Rather it leaves it to the geniuses on campus and in the building community (who are legion) to figure out that part of the equation.
To determine additionality, these methodologies set a benchmark to define an outstanding level of performance – based on the most demanding peer historical performance data. Actors who deliver beyond this very demanding level merit carbon funding to support and deepen leading edge emission reduction investments. These methodologies leverage the “intel” and insights from leading colleges, builders and operations managers, incentivizing a “race to the top”, and providing a beacon for others in their community to follow suit.
Here’s how the new approach works for colleges, based on an example using campus-wide reductions; similar performance thresholds have also been defined or LEED certified buildings.
First, the new Campus Clean Energy methodology sets a benchmark performance based upon the top 15% of all 600+ ACUPCC schools in terms of scope 1 stationary emissions reduction. This turns out to be an average annual emission reduction of about 5% per year. Schools that fall into this category, and also have reduced annually their combined stationary 1 and scope 2 electricity-based emissions, are eligible to sell credits associated with any incremental emission reduction initiatives.
Investments by institutions this aggressive already are, almost by definition, additional. These schools have a demonstrated track record of pushing well beyond business as usual, so incremental projects supported by the universities represent net carbon reductions below any reasonable baseline.
Ball State University in Indiana is one of the first colleges to partner with Chevy under the new methodology. The school is investing in a campus-wide geothermal system. It will be one the largest system a college has yet installed in the country, earning the university stationary 1 annual reductions of 6% or more. By tapping carbon revenues, depending on the final carbon price, Ball State will be able to access 5-25% contribution on the incremental capital investment to put this “groundbreaking” geothermal system in place.
The idea of exceeding LEED average performance underpins the second avenue of the new methodology. Eligibility here includes any US-based building on college or school campuses that is LEED certified under “New Construction” or “Existing Building”, AND that achieves at least LEED average performance outcomes. This corresponds to a performance in the top 14% of buildings nationwide. If a building is in that pool, then carbon credits can be marketed:
For New Construction, and depending on the carbon price, carbon revenues can finance 5-25% of incremental capital expenditure, (based on LEED’s $3/square foot estimate of the further capital needed to reach LEED certifiable performance levels).
Chevy is open to purchasing carbon reductions from certified clean energy projects whose reductions are achieved during the 2012-14 window. Campuses, once certified, however, could sell credits for up to 10 years through the broader carbon market. Chevy has set aside several million dollars from its $40m CRI commitment to dedicate to campus-based clean energy project investments
The key to a valid carbon credit accounting methodology is the ability to reliably prove ‘additionality’ that is the effort is reducing carbon beyond business as usual. Most people are familiar with ‘project based methodologies’ but this approach is problematic when applied to a campus that is utilizing a variety of overlapping measures to achieve carbon reduction. Standardized performance methodologies attempt to provide a simpler approach for these cases.
Project based Methodologies: For individual technologies (such as a geothermal system installation), the ‘additionality’ test asks ‘does this project face so many barriers that the inclusion of carbon funding can provide the necessary means needed to invest in such a “beyond business as usual” technology?’. If the answer is yes, then it meets the additionality test and carbon credit can be created and verified.
Standardized Performance Methodologies: For broader institutions (or technologies), the ‘additionality’ test asks ‘is there a credible performance rating -- typically framed as a GHG performance benchmark metric — which can be defined such that if a project/institution’s GHG performance exceeds this performance benchmark its leadership would confidently be considered as beyond business as usual? Additionality is achieved by analyzing the spectrum of GHG performances that a sector has achieved and determining what an outstanding “beyond business as usual” performance constitutes.
Performance curves are developed and a stakeholder consensus developed regarding what performance benchmark level of leadership constitutes beyond business as usual leadership performance. The new Chevy methodology analyzed all campuses GHG reduction performance from all the ACUPCC data over the last five years. Passing this simpler “performance benchmark” threshold is therefore then the test that determines whether an institution’s performance is additional.
All parameters surrounding communications are agreed upfront in the MOU that campuses sign with Chevy as agreement are made to move projects forward. These take into account everyone’s interests and considerations.
During its pursuit of carbon credits, Chevrolet found that some of the highest performing actors in terms of voluntary emission reductions were not able to access carbon market dollars to help them perform even better. These included colleges and universities who were pushing towards carbon neutrality under the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), as well as LEED green builders – but were unable to access these new sources of carbon funding to extend their leadership even further. So Chevy asked whether it could enable these actors to tap carbon dollars to support even higher performances on campuses?
To achieve this goal, Chevy developed a simplified, peer-reviewed performance methodology for higher education institutions to sell verified carbon credits based on total campus carbon reductions as opposed to traditional project-base methodologies because they:
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