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ASU partners with Ameresco, Rocky Mountain Institute to achieve climate neutrality

October 07, 2013

To achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2025 – defined as having no net climate impact resulting from carbon or other greenhouse gases – Arizona State University has announced a strategic partnership with Ameresco, Inc., the largest independent energy services-solutions provider in the nation, and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an independent nonprofit working to transform global energy use.

The partnership marks the beginning of a 22-year-long collaboration toward developing a strategic roadmap for climate neutrality and identifying innovative projects and initiatives that will further ASU’s position as a national leader in sustainable universities. The energy services giant is also partnering with RMI to facilitate collaborative workshops and evaluate emerging technologies and innovative financing structures.

“Arizona State University, Ameresco and RMI serve as living laboratories for ideas and experiments that are transforming the world in varied and meaningful ways,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow, co-chair of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) steering committee and one of the original signatories of the commitment.

“The partnership will not only support ASU in reaching our institutional climate neutrality goals, but also affect the fundamental way in which more than 85,000 members of our community approach sustainable living," Crow said. "We hope this effort creates a ripple of similar commitments from other institutions of higher learning, communities and future generations of environmentally aware citizens across the globe.”

“Ameresco is delighted to partner with this leading university committed to global sustainability,” said Ameresco President and CEO George P. Sakellaris. “Our alliance supports ASU in reaching climate neutrality status and establishes a great example for other institutions and businesses to follow. In addition, we expect a secondary effect of our partnership to foster a revolutionary impact on society and the environment for years to come.”

The master agreement encompasses three initial primary objectives. Ameresco and RMI will first craft a climate neutrality implementation plan, which will provide the framework for the duration of the 22-year partnership. The second objective is identifying additional sources to fund the implementation of the plan. Lastly, Ameresco and RMI will conduct technical climate assessments that will help identify projects to significantly reduce climate emissions across all campuses.

"RMI is excited to work with ASU and Ameresco to create a real-world example of Reinventing Fire, RMI's roadmap for getting the U.S. off coal, oil and nuclear energy by 2050, using efficiency and renewables," said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of RMI. "Campuses are microcosms of our communities across the country. This bold project can inspire similar efforts and catalyze a powerful movement with the potential to reinforce deep and broad energy efficiency as both an economic driver and an environmental opportunity."

In order to achieve a net zero climate footprint, ASU has been working to mitigate 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions from building energy, refrigerants and waste-related sources by 2025, and 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 2035.

Nick Brown, the director of University Sustainability Practices and senior sustainability scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability, said that ASU has made important strides toward climate neutrality and that the unique ASU-Ameresco-RMI partnership is poised to fulfill the goal successfully.

“We’ve completed about a quarter of the work toward a zero-climate footprint through our solarization program, energy savings performance contracts and conservation work, and investment in an on-campus, combined heat and power plant,” said Brown. “By working together on projects related to energy retrofits in buildings, biogas and bioenergy, microgrid management, innovative transportation systems and perhaps even geothermal energy, Ameresco and RMI will help us bring our ambitions to fruition. It’s an exciting time to be a Sun Devil.”