Posts tagged with “Emissions and Offsets” (All posts)

  • It is clear that air travel is a significant contributor to global climate change. Studies indicate that aviation is currently responsible for 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions and air travel is only becoming more and popular. In 1999, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that air plane greenhouse gas emissions will increase tenfold between 1992 and 2050. Traveling 2,000 miles in an airplane emits approximately the same amount of carbon dioxide as driving 1,900 miles in a mid-sized car. However, Greenhouse gases emitted from airplanes have particularly damaging effects because of the altitude at which gases are released.

    These disheartening numbers may compel you to look into purchasing carbon offsets along with your next plane ticket. Fortunately, there are currently dozens of companies through which individuals or organizations can neutralize their carbon emissions from flying. Such offsets can take multiple forms: investing in renewable energy (such as wind, biomass or solar), energy-efficiency projects (such as compact fluorescent lights, refrigerators) or biological sequestration (such as planting trees that will uptake carbon). There is a range of quality and standards amongst carbon offset companies, yet, there is currently no universal regulatory body governing the way in which companies use consumers’ money. As such, it is up to consumers of these voluntary offsets to do their homework and ask lots of questions before choosing a company that they believe will most effectively offset their carbon emissions. When making this decision for yourself, you may want to check out company websites and send a few e-mails to find the answer to some of the following questions:

    Is the carbon-offset company a non-profit or not? What percentage of their sales go towards operating costs? You may feel that you’re getting the most bang for your buck if a high percentage of your money is going directly towards offset projects. Non-profits generally put more money directly towards projects (as opposed to operating costs). However, it is not entirely clear how different companies define “project implementation” funds versus operating cost funds.

    What sorts of projects do they invest in? Renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects avoid emissions, whereas as sequestration projects absorb emissions that have already entered the atmosphere. Sequestration projects generally deal with the land use. This can be a little bit of a bargain as it can be difficult to predict what sort of diseases or human activity will plague a forest in the future.

    If the company is investing in projects that would be carried out regardless of your financial support or receives renewable energy credits for a project, in addition to selling you offsets, then you are not actually offsetting your emissions. Such a company would not be worth your money.


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  • In the most recent release of college sustainability grades from the Sustainable Endowments Institute, Carleton was one of six schools to receive an A- (the highest grade awarded).

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  • The college gives away Compact Fluorescent Lights, so why not limit the amount of energy you use in your dorm room by simply installing them in your desk lamp?

    Having recognized the major energy savings of using Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFLs) (they use about a quarter of the energy used by traditional incandescent bulbs), the college has put CFLs in most light fixtures around campus (including dorm rooms) in the last few years. Because the college cannot control the type of bulbs students use in their personal lamps, Facilities simply gives CFLs to students for free. Call Facilities at x 4133.

    And, make the switch soon. There is no need to wait until the incandescent bulb in your desk lamp burns out. Simply throw your incandescent light bulb in the trash. The sooner you make the switch, the sooner you’ll start saving energy. Currently, Facilities distributes the equivalent of 60 and 100 watt incandescent bulbs (used by most lamps) CFLs to students.

    As a CFL user, there are a few things you should know. While naturally CFL use minimizes the amount of the pollutants (including mercury) pumped out of power plants, the CFLs themselves do contain trace amounts of mercury. While not a huge safety hazard, there are certain precautions you can take in the event that a CFL breaks or if you would simply like to get rid of them once they burn out.

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  • After several years of discussion and planning, the ENTS Department and the Environmental Advisory Committee have unleashed some wild new creatures upon Carleton’s campus: Sustainability Assistants! Charged with the task of working with staff and students to bring a better understanding and implementation of sustainability to the Carleton community, these four students work one-on-one with heads of Dining Services, Facilities, Grounds, and Intercultural Life and are assigned to be resources for individual dorms. And now, introductions:

    Becky Dernbach is working with the Office of Intercultural Life on social and cultural sustainability. She is very concerned that American environmentalism is often seen, and with good reason, as a privileged movement, so she is thrilled, though daunted, to take on the seemingly insurmountable task of trying to mend that chasm at Carleton this year. Building bridges, making connections, and hopefully inciting compassionate revolution are among her goals for the year. Becky is the sustainability assistant for Burton, Davis, and Sevy.

    As the Sustainability Assistant focusing on Carbon Neutrality and Energy, Eliza Berry is working with Rob Lamppa, the Director of Energy Management in Facilities. This term, she hopes to publish a Code of Sustainable Conduct for all members of the Carleton community that will list easy ways in which students, faculty and staff can support sustainability in their daily lives. She is also researching the energy saving capability of the “Vending Misers” that have been proposed for the Sustainability Revolving Fund. “Vending Misers” are small devices that use motion detectors to put vending machines into a hibernation mode when there is no one around (such as late at night), thus hopefully cutting energy costs. Eliza has been really excited to learn all that that Facilities is doing to help create a greener campus. She is the Sustainability Assistant for Musser and Watson.

    Katie Blanchard loves food and is therefore perfectly placed as the Sustainability Assistant with Joe Winegardner in Dining Services. She is currently working to increase awareness about the new Carleton Composts program and get it off to a good, efficient start. Additionally, she will be promoting local foods that are served in the Dining Halls and general understanding about all that it takes to serve thousands and thousands of meals every week at Carleton. Katie dreams of a Carleton Community Farm and Fair Trade bananas in the Dining Halls. She is the Sustainability Assistant to Goodhue and Evans.

    As an STA working with Buildings and Grounds in the Facilities Department, Laura Oxtoby will be looking into chemical use on campus (lawn maintenance and snow removal are examples), helping to expand and improve Carleton’s composting program, and exploring the feasibility of clean energy maintenance equipment. She is especially excited to work on is landscaping at Carleton. Thinking about physical spaces and considering ways that outdoor areas can serve different purposes (enhance campus beauty, provide habitat for local wildlife, reduce runoff) is incredibly important to living more sustainably as a community. She loves sustainability because it’s a holistic, healthy mindset that inspires us to think of others and to think ahead. Laura is the Sustainability Assistant for Meyers and Nourse.

    Together, the Sustainability Assistants are hoping to improved communication between faculty, staff, administration and student organizations about sustainability issues and projects.

  • The Presidents Climate Commitment now has more than 400 schools signed on. AASHEE’s blog has a breakdown on the signatories (to see a complete list of the schools, click here).

    The ACUPCC signatories serve about 17% of the college students in America.

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  • Carbon Indulgences

    19 September 2007

    Which nation will be the first to offset all of its emissions?

    Click here to find out.

  • On February 26, 2007, as many of you know, President Rob Oden signed onto the Presidents Climate Commitment, which committed Carleton to initiate the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible. The whole campus warmly received the announcement of his signature even though few people were aware of what exactly he had signed onto.

    I wanted to provide a few details in this post about what exactly the Presidents Climate Commitment is, and then discuss a little about the short-term implications of signing the commitment.

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