What are Carbon Offsets?

 

how carbon offsets work

Carbon Offsets (also called Carbon Credits) are generated by discrete carbon reduction projects. One Carbon Offset represents the reduction of 1 metric ton (or 2,205 pounds) of greenhouse gas emissions that occur as a result of that specific project. On top of their direct environmental benefit, some Carbon Offset projects carry additional certification to provide measurable social benefits as well.

1 carbon offset = 1 metric ton of CO2e kept from the atmosphere

VERIFICATION STANDARDS—Each Carbon Offset generated is third-party verified to prove that real, permanent, verifiable, additional and enforceable emissions reductions have occurred.

PROOF OF PURCHASE—BEF provides you with a proof of purchase certificate by email to ensure that only you own the environmental attributes associated with your Carbon Offset and to confirm the project supply from which your Carbon Offset was generated.

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types of carbon offset projects

The project types described below represent the diversity of projects that could make up BEF’s Carbon Offset portfolio. They are provided as information only to help inform our customers about where and how Carbon Offsets are generated.

Browse our Carbon Offset project portfolio now >>

 

  • AGRICULTURE METHANE CAPTURE—Agricultural operations, such as those in the dairy industry, result in methane emissions from animal waste. Sites may capture and flare the methane, which converts it into much less potent carbon dioxide. The methane gas may also be collected and scrubbed for use as biogas to produce energy, sometimes replacing natural gas or other fuel oils used for heating or energy production. The greenhouse gas (GHG) value is a function of converting the methane into carbon dioxide, which traps less heat in the atmosphere than methane.
  • CAMPUS CLEAN ENERGY—Institutions of higher-education across the U.S. are engaged in reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through a variety of strategies, including energy efficiency upgrades, on-site renewable energy and behavior change to reduce energy use. Carbon Offsets from this sector follow a performance-based approach and result from measured year-over-year improvements in energy use from either an entire campus or an individual certified green building located on campus.
  • FORESTRY—Healthy forests absorb and hold carbon dioxide emissions produced from other sources and are an important source of greenhouse gas (GHG) sequestration. Carbon Offsets from forestry may be created through a variety of strategies, including: avoided deforestation and permanent land conservation, reforestation and replanting activities, and improved forest management and stewardship in working forests where harvesting occurs.
  • GRASSLANDS CONSERVATION—Similar to forestry, native grasses and other vegetation provide a natural source of greenhouse gas (GHG) absorption and sequestration. Carbon Offsets from this category focus on maintaining native plant life through permanent land conservation and avoided conversion for commercial development or agriculture.
  • LANDFILL GAS EXTRACTION—Unregulated landfill operations may collect and convert the methane emissions occurring as solid wastes break down at their facility over time. Methane gas may be flared and converted to carbon dioxide in order to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) potency. The methane gas may also be collected and scrubbed for use as biogas to produce energy, sometimes replacing natural gas or other fuel oils used for heating or energy production. The GHG value is a function of converting the methane into carbon dioxide, which traps less heat in the atmosphere than methane.
  • NATURALLY OCCURRING METHANE CAPTURE—Methane emissions may occur from land areas where coal or other high concentrations of un-extracted fossil fuels are present underground, resulting in a naturally occurring source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Methane gas may be flared and converted to carbon dioxide in order to significantly reduce its GHG potency. The methane gas may also be collected and scrubbed for use as biogas to produce energy, sometimes replacing natural gas or other fuel oils used for heating or energy production. The GHG value is a function of converting the methane into carbon dioxide, which traps less heat in the atmosphere than methane.
  • REFRIGERANT LEAK PREVENTION—This type of project quantifies the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions generated by reducing hydroflourocarbon (HFC) refrigerant leaks commonly found in commercial refrigeration systems. Rather than rely on annual equipment inspection for leak detection, this strategy utilizes automated infrared detection systems to identify issues when they occur and allows for immediate response. This results in a significant reduction in HFC emissions escaping through refrigerant equipment failure. Like methane, HFCs are a far more potent greenhouse gas (with greater warming potential) than carbon dioxide, so it’s essential to prevent their release into the atmosphere.
  • RENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION—Renewable energy facilities, such as wind or solar, generate Carbon Offsets through displacing fossil fuel-based electricity production sources within the power grid. The greenhouse gas (GHG) value of this activity depends on the composition of the electricity mix within the grid region where the renewable energy facility is located.
  • TRANSPORTATION EFFICIENCY—Carbon Offsets from the transportation sector primarily focus on reducing emissions resulting from gasoline or diesel fuel used in fleet trucking operations. The two key strategies include truck idle reduction (where not required by law) such as with a truck-stop electrification project and efficiency upgrades to trucking equipment in order to improve fuel economy above prevailing regulated standards. In each case, reduced fuel consumption results in a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributable to the strategy deployed.

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how to reduce your business’ carbon footprint

  • GET EFFICIENT—Program your office thermostat to turn off at night and during the weekends. Be sure to close blinds and windows at night during the winter.
  • BUY GREEN—Reduce your purchase of unnecessary goods and take care to select goods that can be reused. Select goods produced from post-consumer (upcycled and/or recycled) materials whenever possible.
  • REDUCE WASTE—Choose post-consumer recycled paper products (office paper, paper towels, toilet tissue, etc.). Provide multiple recycle bins with clear directions around the office. Look into composting in your communities. Create double-sided printing default policies and “reuse” single-sided print jobs by creating a special print drawer in your copier for informal print jobs.
  • USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION—Encourage employees to use public transit by providing them with passes. Provide space for employees to safely store their bikes during the workday and participate in local commuting challenges that encourage public transit or bike use.
  • BUY CARBON OFFSETS—Balance the footprint you can’t avoid with BEF’s verified Carbon Offsets. Every Carbon Offset you purchase represents 1 metric ton of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) kept out of the atmosphere.

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references

Refrigerant leak prevention—http://www.v-c-s.org/methodologies/infrared-automatic-refrigerant-leak-detection-efficiency-project-methodology-v10