Second Nature prompted the creation of the peer verification structure when they created the Carbon Credit & Purchasing Program, which introduced two new ideas of Peer Reviewed Offsets and Innovative Offsets: offsets that may be reviewed and verified by peer institutions rather than accredited by third-party project auditors. By allowing schools to offset a small portion of their Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions with Peer Reviewed Offsets and Innovative Offsets, the guidance aims to address the potentially high cost of third-party verification, better provide educational opportunities with real-world applications, expand the types of offset projects available, and encourage the development of innovative new offset projects.
As a result, the Offset Network was created to define the procedures and processes for institutions interested in developing Peer Reviewed or Innovative Offsets. Peer Reviewed Offsets follow an existing carbon-reduction protocol, while Innovative Offsets utilize a new protocol or project-type that the institution creates. The graphic below describes the different types of carbon offsets.