As the nation prepares for the release of the Chevy Volt, the company behind the Volt has announced that it will be investing $40 million in clean energy projects. Chevrolet’s latest eco initiative will provide funding for community-based projects that focus on three key areas: promoting energy savings and energy efficiency, using renewable energy, and the responsible use of natural resources.

Chevy is working with stakeholders to create a project nomination and selection process to make sure that this $40 million is well spent. Additionally, Chevy will be staffing a website so that private citizens can submit project nominations, keep track of the projects that are ultimately chosen to receive funding and much more.

Kathleen Rogers, president of the Earth Day Network, applauds Chevy for making this $40 million commitment.

“From the start, when Chevy decided to embark on this project, they immediately engaged third-party nonprofit and expert sustainability advisors to help inform, shape and guide their mission, commitment and investment strategy. This is another sign that corporations understand that to forge leadership in the sustainability arena, they need to form collaborations with nonprofit organizations such as the Earth Day Network and other community leaders.”

While no specific projects have been chosen, Chevy has provided information about the type of clean energy projects that may receive funding. For example, funds could be awarded to a school to help reduce energy use. In today’s economy, many school districts are suffering financially and lack the capital to make energy-efficiency upgrades. However, an energy-efficiency upgrade will ultimately reduce the school’s expenditures through reduced energy bills. If a school were to receive funding from Chevy, it could overcome the capital obstacle and be able to complete an energy-efficiency retrofit project.

The $40 million in funding, which will be restricted to U.S.-based projects, is expected to help create jobs, establish a new collaborative mindset for businesses, communities and colleges, and serve as a model that other businesses can follow.

While the funds will have a direct impact on the communities served through by the selected projects, the money will also have a direct impact on the environment. Chevy estimates that the $40 million in funding will lead to a reduction of 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, roughly equal to the electricity use of all of the homes and businesses in Portland, Ore., or the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from the 1.9 million Chevy vehicles expected to be sold in 2011.

Although this project is focused on external projects, Chevrolet still maintains its commitment to the environment through internal programs. The company has a comprehensive corporate-wide recycling program with about 90 percent of its waste being recycled. Additionally, the company has 75 landfill-free manufacturing plants around the world and has reduced its water use by 35 percent over the past five years.

To learn more about the program, visit the Chevy Carbon Reduction website.

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