When officials at Ball State University determined that it was time to replace the University’s aging coal fired boilers, they began analyzing a number of different approaches, with a focus on environmentally responsible systems that would be true to Ball State’s tradition of innovation and sustainability. Ultimately, the University decided to create the nation’s largest ground-source, closed-loop district geothermal energy system, which would enable the University to deliver deeper greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions against its already demanding American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) signatory goal of achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050.
While the project’s environmental advantages were obvious, there were many other positive factors associated with the project. Virtually all of the components were manufactured in the United States; most of the contractors were based in the Midwest; and many of the contractors were located in close proximity to Ball State’s campus. Additionally, the project helped redefine the local water-well drilling industry and propelled companies in this industry into a new and growing market. The project also offered tremendous learning and research opportunities for Ball State’s faculty and students in areas such as geography, environmental sciences, etc.
After learning about Ball State’s proposed project, Chevrolet, which had recently announced its own corporate initiative of funding carbon reduction project across the United States with the goal of preventing up to 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over a 5-year period, began discussions with the University about a partnership that could help both parties achieve their goals. These discussions ultimately led to Chevrolet and Ball State partnering in the development of a market study to be used by Chevrolet and its partners to create new carbon reduction methodologies.
A key component of the market study is Ball State’s transfer of its verified emission reductions (VERs) to Chevrolet. When completed, the transfers will result in Chevrolet permanently retiring the VERs on behalf of the climate; in later years Ball State will bring these reductions back onto its own books when the credits are no longer sold, so that the university can deliver on its demanding carbon neutral goals. Based on what the parties have observed to date, it appears the sale of carbon reductions will be a key way for universities to help fund their climate action plans.
The Ball State University campus-wide project’s pro forma excel and project development templates can be reviewed alongside background insights into their pioneering geothermal installation.