GV partners with Chevrolet to reduce carbon emissions

By Sarah Hillenbrand | 9/16/14 12:40pm


Grand Valley State University emphasizes sustainability as part of the university’s mission and has aimed to further this goal by partnering with Chevrolet through the Campus Green Energy Campaign.

“When the Grand Valley State University Facilities Services first heard of Chevrolet’s Campus Green Energy Campaign in the media, we approached it as we do many ventures: with cautious optimism,” said Terry Pahl, facilities engineer at GVSU. “We contacted Sue Hall, CEO of Climate Neutral Business Network who represents Chevrolet as a consultant, and after she explained the partnership program we knew it would be a good fit for Grand Valley.”

The goal of the partnership is to reduce carbon emissions at GVSU through energy efficiency improvements. Chevrolet will certify these reductions as voluntary carbon credits, which the university will be paid for, and will permanently retire the credits to benefit the climate.

“The partnership with Chevrolet indicates that we are invested in having a positive impact on reducing the university’s carbon footprint as we continue to further develop and grow GVSU,” said Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president for facilities.

Pahl said that Chevrolet will give funds to the university based on a rigorous review process of GVSU’s data spreadsheets, invoices, emissions templates and reports sent into the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment.

“The funds will vary, but they have a range of $5 to $10 per metric ton of reductions,” he said. “What may be more important than the funds is that this program helps highlight some of the good work the university has done in reducing our emissions.”

The university’s plan to reduce carbon emissions is mainly to keep up what they have been doing – implementing energy conservation and efficiency projects and continuing to build LEED certified buildings, said Pahl.

The university has also developed an energy group that meets several times a year to discuss potential energy projects. Thimmesch, who heads the group, said the facilities services department will be involved in reducing the university’s emissions.

“Facilities will continue to invest and implement a variety of energy conservation projects that have reduced our energy consumption which in turn reduces our carbon footprint,” he said. “Also, we will continue to evaluate emerging technologies that would be considered for installation or purchase.”

GVSU has already done several projects to become more energy efficient, Pahl said. These include being the first institution in Michigan to install lab controls that reduce the amount of air changes per hour, if the air was deemed to be clean, and having the largest installation in the state of a particular automated steam trap failure system.

“(I) believe this partnership shows that we have been quietly doing our share of reducing emissions with the resources we have available and with the campus environment we have today,” Pahl said. “We have great support from our administration and it is truly a team effort.”

To learn more about sustainability initiatives at GVSU, visit www.gvsu.edu/sustainability.

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