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Rochester Institute of Tech To Sell Carbon Credits To Fund Future Sustainability

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has entered into an agreement with a private partner to sell carbon credits to fund future sustainability initiatives on campus.

The school has partnered with Chevrolet as part of the company's Campus Clean Energy Campaign, which is designed to remove 8 million metric tons of CO2 from the environment through partnerships with institutions of higher education and K-12 schools, according to information released by Chevrolet. Through the campaign, Chevrolet buys carbon credits based on Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design-certified (LEED) buildings or campus-wide energy reduction initiatives.

Based on current sustainability initiatives, RIT will sell the company carbon credits worth as much as $100,000. The company will then retire the credits, rather than using them to offset their own carbon production or selling them to other carbon emitters, and RIT will use the proceeds of the sale to fund additional sustainability projects.

Carbon credits allow companies to reduce their carbon footprint by paying for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects, usually initiatives that are already completed and ongoing. One credit generally gives the purchaser the right to emit one metric ton of greenhouse gasses, and can be traded among carbon-emitting companies. The system is designed to allow industries that cannot further reduce emissions approach carbon-neutrality through market mechanisms.

Rochester Institute of Technology launched its Climate Action Plan, an initiative that aims for carbon neutrality by 2030, in 2011. The plan is updated every two years alongside the release of a progress report.

As part of the action plan, four RIT buildings have been LEED certified, including a LEED-platinum certification for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, which the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) said was among the top 1 percent greenest buildings in the U.S.

"In addition to its buildings, RIT has undertaken extensive energy conservation measures in recent years, including significant physical plant and lighting upgrades as well as other innovative strategies," according to a school news release. "Earlier this year, the university enacted a new energy policy, outlining new building temperature set points. In addition to the set points, the policy outlines individual behavior changes, including dressing appropriately for the weather outside as well as a program to swap space heaters for floor mats."

To determine the methodology for the Campus Clean Energy Campaign, the automaker partnered "with an advisory team led by the Climate Neutral Business Network, with support from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the USGBC and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education," according to information released by Chevrolet. "The methodologies have been approved through the Verified Carbon Standard."

"RIT has long been recognized for our initiatives focused on promoting environmental responsibility across campus and throughout the community," said Enid Cardinal, senior sustainability advisor to the president, in a prepared statement. "We look forward to working with Chevrolet in taking further steps toward reducing our carbon footprint, and to use this opportunity to help bolster the conversation around and the viability of carbon markets."

Additional information about sustainability initiatives at Rochester Institute of Technology is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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