Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign – Individual LEED Building Funding Opportunities

Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign
Chevrolet program supports innovative investments in clean energy efficient projects on US college campuses

Chevrolet is now providing funding to purchase and retire carbon reductions sourced from clean energy efficiency projects on college and school campuses across the U.S – in collaboration with USGBC, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and other stakeholders across the country. 

Chevrolet is doing this in order to help invest in and promote a clean energy future worth driving towards, not only in its vehicles but in our communities. Indeed, if innovative cars, such as the Chevrolet Volt and new Spark EV, are to realize their full potential, they will be charged by an efficient, cleaner energy infrastructure in our communities. The U.S. Green Building Council is now working to support Chevrolet’s innovative investments in clean energy efficient projects on US college campuses.

The funding opportunity is open to all U.S. universities, colleges and K-12 schools. A campus determines whether its performance in reducing carbon emissions through their clean energy efficiency leadership will qualify based on new carbon methodologies that Chevrolet has been developing through the Verified Carbon Standard. If eligible, campuses may receive funding by selling and transferring its carbon credits to Chevrolet for the purpose of retiring them to benefit the climate.

There are two avenues through which campuses can determine their eligibility to receive project funding:

  1. Individual LEED Certified Buildings
  2. Campus-Wide Performance

Campuses carbon reductions can therefore be evaluated on a campus-wide basis (in stationary 1 and/or scope 2 electricity based emissions) or determined for individual LEED certified buildings. Projects can readily determine their eligibility for LEED certified buildings reductions based on energy/CO2 emission profiles that have already been derived from their LEED building certification documents. The carbon emission profiles are then determined through entering the LEED certified energy data into the EPA Target Finder tool.

The value of carbon funding can significantly contribute to campus’ efforts to further accelerate clean energy efficiency leadership, as reflected in several demonstration projects which provide examples for how LEED buildings can be evaluated and why the funding from Chevrolet can be valuable. There are simple steps involved in applying for funding, with resources available to support and streamline this process and answer frequently asked questions.

Chevrolet is also particularly interested to support and recognize the ingenuity of the next generation of clean energy efficient entrepreneurs – the students themselves – through 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 cleaner 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.

Chevrolet Volt charging canopy.

Chevrolet Volt charging canopy.

 

BASIC LEED ELIGIBILITY

Here’s how to determine initial eligibility for LEED certified individual buildings on campuses. First, the new VCS methodology has established three approaches for LEED certified buildings each of which has specific performance benchmarks which projects must surpass, including:

New Construction: NC

In order to surpass the performance benchmark for eligibility, the building must qualify within the top 50% of LEED buildings’ EUI improvements over regulatory code design performance, likely placing them beyond the LEED average Energy Star 86 performance achievements.

  • The top 50% of LEED certified buildings typically achieve a 21-26% EUI (BTU/sq ft) improvements vs. code-based EUI, based on USGBC’s historical analysis by sector.
  • For 2012 projects, going forward, this would be a percent improvement in EUI (BTU/sq ft) over relevant building code (e.g. ASHRAE Standard (ASHRAE Code) including: 90.1-2004 (ASHRAE 2004), 90.1-2007 (ASHRAE 2007)),as specified in the building’s LEED certification documentation, of at least:

table

Exiting Buildings: EB-A and EB-B

The LEED EB certified buildings will have EITHER:

EB-A: Consistent with LEED credit 67, in order to surpass the performance benchmark, the eligible building will have achieved a 20% reduction in EUI (BTU/sq ft) in a single year, while starting historically from a baseline performance level that would not render the building eligible for LEED certification.

OR

EB-B: In order to surpass the performance benchmark, the eligible building will have met at least the LEED building average Energy Star performance rating (currently ES 86) in practice as monitored through EPA’s Portfolio Manager (Excluding US higher education campus laboratories).

There are other eligibility criteria which campuses must also fulfill that are outlined in the project summaries which must be completed and submitted for consideration. Key project eligibility criteria include:

  • Be a US-based college or K-12 school
  • Comprise a LEED certified building as NC or EB with opening/operational date after Q1/2 2011
  • Use EPA Target Finder (TF) tool to calculate CO2 reductions, derived from LEED energy inputs from the building’s LEED certification documents, meeting simple operating requirements for the EPA TF tool
  • Demonstrated actions on at least two energy strategies, as derived from the building’s LEED certification approach, which may not have been conducted as a result of regulatory requirements
  • Ensure rights of ownership to the resulting carbon reductions to avoid double counting/claiming, consistent with campus’ own GHG reporting

Using their LEED performance data, campuses can readily estimate the total CO2 reductions that might qualify for Chevrolet funding using the Excel Template. Chevrolet is open to consider funding purchases over several years, spanning mid-2011 through December 2014. Chevrolet is willing to pay premium in terms of $/ton over the prevailing voluntary carbon market pricing.

Interested campuses can contact Sue Hall or Pat Nye to learn more about funding opportunities and eligibility criteria.

VALUE TO CAMPUSES

What’s the incentive for campuses? Carbon funding can contribute 5-25% of the incremental capital needed to deliver clean energy efficiency performances at this level of leadership. The monies are designed to reward top performing campuses and to help expand their clean energy efficiency and climate performance on campus. The business case is therefore compelling to spur campus clean energy leadership.

Several demonstration example projects have already established the business case from a campus’ point of view and discovered that projects are well worth putting forward:

  • Ball State University’s LETTERMAN building
  • CA campus higher education building (NC)
  • CA campus laboratory building (EB-A)

Using their LEED performance data, campuses can readily estimate the total CO2 reductions that might qualify for Chevrolet funding using the Excel Template. Chevrolet is open to consider funding purchases over several years, spanning mid-2011 through December 2014. Chevrolet is willing to pay premium in terms of $/ton over the prevailing voluntary carbon market pricing.

Interested campuses can contact Sue Hall or Pat Nye to learn more.

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Campus building with on-site solar panels.

LEARNING FROM PILOT PROJECTS

Campus Precedents: Learning from other Campus Leaders:

Several campuses have already begun to explore how to use the new methodology, providing demonstration examples for how a campus can evaluate its eligibility to secure Chevrolet’s funding and the value of the resulting reductions in order to further support their campus GHG leadership.

Ball State University’s LETTERMAN building
Ball State University built its LETTERMAN building in 2007, earning a Silver LEED certification. When considered (albeit on a non-qualifying basis due to its age) as an NC building under the new methodology, LETTERMAN would not have met the performance benchmark since its percent improvement in EUI over code was 19% when 25% would be the required threshold. However, like many leading green building pioneers, Ball State has continued to invest in clean energy efficiency on a system-wide basis. In particular, in 2012, it began running a campus-wide geothermal system to replace its coal boilers. Interestingly, this generated an improvement in EUI in the LETTERMAN building of more than 20%, opening up the option for it to qualify for Chevrolet funding under the LEED EB-A route, earning potential credits of over 400 tons CO2 per year. However, the geothermal systems were so dramatic in their impact that they enabled Ball State to qualify for campus-wide funding (for stationary 1 reductions that exceed an average of 5.86% per year) which offered the potential to earn many more tons of CO2 credits per year – a route that Ball State chose to pursue with Chevrolet.

The business case for its LETTERMAN LEED building was nonetheless intriguing; based on the $3/square foot that LEED estimates is needed to deliver outstanding LEED performance levels, a 10 year stream of the LETTERMAN building credits (at $5-10/ton) would provide a 7.5%-15% return on incremental capital.

The LETTERMAN building’s pro forma excel templates can be reviewed alongside the EPA Target Finder summaries that resulted, here.

Ball State University has implemented the largest geothermal energy system of its type in the United States.

Ball State University has implemented the largest geothermal energy system of its type in the United States.

 

Campus higher education building (NC) & campus laboratory building (EB-A)
A campus building that recently earned LEED Gold certification undertook a similar review of its eligibility under the LEED NC module. With a 37% improvement in EUI over code, it readily surpassed the 25% performance benchmark threshold requirement. Reflecting the building’s small size, the 7 tons of CO2 per year that would be generated in credits nonetheless generated a 1.5-3% return on incremental capital, comparable to the value of utility incentives on the region, based on the $3/square foot that LEED estimates is needed to deliver outstanding LEED performance levels and a 10 year stream of carbon credits.

A campus laboratory similarly discovered that its design could enable it to be eligible for Chevrolet funding by achieving more than a 20% improvement in EUI within a single year, under the EB-A route. With design specs for the building indicating a 25% improvement was likely, this translated into credits of 990 CO2 tons per year. Again taken over a 10 year period at $5-10/ton CO2, this offered a potential 15-30% return on incremental capital – a significant motivation to ensure that the laboratory would indeed deliver on its fullest potential in practice.

These buildings’ pro forma excel templates can be reviewed alongside the EPA Target Finder summaries that resulted, here.

HOW TO APPLY

What are the key steps involved in putting a project forward?

  1. Signal interest: Simply complete the questions in the “INTERESTED” download document (drawing upon information in your LEED building’s certification documents) and email this to Pat Nye.
  2. Complete initial due diligence with BEF/CNBN team members to evaluate project eligibility and performance parameters, inputting further data to the excel templates sheets. Evaluate attractiveness of project funding investment from campus’ point of view.
  3. After campus has elected to proceed, formalize an agreement to move forward for Chevrolet to purchase and retire carbon credits provided from your project, including a project payment schedule. Once eligibility is determined, Chevrolet will provide a contract in order to transact for the carbon reduction tons you wish to provide.
  4. Fully complete project information sheets found here and here and submit to Chevrolet for review.
  5. Participate in a third-party project validation review of the project’s carbon credentials and verification of its reductions in 2014-15: In order to achieve VCS certification all carbon projects are reviewed by a designated third-party reviewer
  6. Transfer carbon credits to Chevrolet and receive payment.

There are many resources available to support campuses’ evaluation and application efforts including:

  • An Excel “INTERESTED” template to provide early indications of campus projects’ interest and core qualifications
  • An Excel Template to estimate:
    a) whether a campus would qualify based on its GHG performance.
    b) the size and value of resulting CO2 reductions.
  • A Template Project Development Document, (PDD – with check boxes to complete that mirror the Excel Template’s results) which provides:
    a) a summary of the project for Chevrolet to consider.
    b) a summary of the project for VCS to evaluate its certification credentials.
  • The VCS methodology, which outlines all the detailed project requirements, which are themselves captured (for convenience) in the Excel Template and PDD Project Summary documents.
  • Frequently asked questions concerning the use of the templates for LEED certified buildings are included for reference.

FAQ

We address two kinds of frequently asked questions here:

  1. Questions typically asked by campuses evaluating potential projects and putting them forward for funding.
  2. Questions regarding the Credible Foundations for this Approach.

 

STUDENT COMPETITIONS

Chevrolet will be announcing shortly competitions to challenge students to help us move towards a clean energy future through their own ingenuity and innovation. The first, the Chevrolet Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year award, will challenge students to bring forward their innovative solutions to clean energy efficiency challenges in their own lifestyles, campuses or communities. Stay tuned!

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Chevrolet Campus Clean Energy Campaign
Chevrolet is now providing funding to purchase and retire carbon reductions sourced from clean energy efficiency projects on college and school campuses across the U.S.