Innovative Offsets Projects

Innovative Offset Projects pursue new strategies outside of currently approved offset methodologies. These projects reflect the spirit and culture of creativity, innovation, critical thinking, applied research, and experiential education promoted in higher education. Innovative methodological approaches for carbon offsets should be grounded in theory, should reference peer-reviewed literature, and should ideally be supported by anecdotal pilot initiatives. Below are examples of such projects.

Option #1 :

(If you want to be able to comment on any of the pages this is the way to go. We would have to change this so that each project has only one blog post, with external links, within an innovative projects blog.)

Option #2:

(big pictures + a few sentences of text describing it; the picture size would have to change for each category based on the number of projects within each category- currently ranges from 2-5)

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DCOI Urban forestry

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OberLIn Afforestation

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Option #3:

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Project 1: Short description

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Project 2: Short description

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DCOI HEAL

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ASU Urban Forestry

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(smaller pictures, shorter descriptions)

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Project 3: Short description

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Project 4: Short description

Urban Forestry

Project Description & Co-Benefits:

In the United States, economic growth and development has led to the removal of millions of acres of natural forests. This impact decreases the country’s carbon sequestration capacity, or the ability to naturally capture atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) from our emissions and convert it into long-term storage. In recent years, a greater emphasis has been placed on increasing the carbon sequestration capacity of urban areas, due to their widespread presence. To achieve this goal, urban planning is modified to incorporate an increased presence of trees, creating an “urban forest”, which allows urban areas to function similarly to natural forests as a carbon sink, in addition to having many other social, ecological, and economic co-benefits:

  • Education — Urban tree plantings can provide opportunities for students to develop a tree planting program, teach citizens about tree health and maintenance, and help develop curriculum about trees and the benefits that they provide.
  • Social — Urban tree plantings can provide volunteering opportunities to community members, increase the physical and emotional health of citizens, and create safer places for individuals to walk.
  • Environmental — Urban tree plantings reduce storm water runoff, absorb harmful exhaust emissions, and provide food and shelter to local animal populations.
  • Economic — Urban tree plantings can reduce energy bills, increase property values, and provide relatively low-cost carbon offsets.
  • Scalability — Urban tree plantings are easily scalable due to their relatively low cost and ability to partner with local municipal governments that already have tree planting initiatives.
  • Public Relations and Partnerships — Urban tree plantings are a highly-visible offset project and can bring together a wide variety of stakeholders.

DCOI, in partnership with Urban Offsets, has implemented this program to generate carbon offsets (one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, MtCO2e), which may be counted against Duke University’s carbon footprint with the added benefit of enhancing the quality of urban forests. 

 Duke's urban forests provide great benefits to students and the residents of Durham North Carolina, beautifying spaces and providing habitat for wildlife.

Duke's urban forests provide great benefits to students and the residents of Durham North Carolina, beautifying spaces and providing habitat for wildlife.

 Since 2014, the DCOI has enabled over 6,400 trees to be planted in 7 cities.

Since 2014, the DCOI has enabled over 6,400 trees to be planted in 7 cities.

Student Involvement:

Students have the opportunity to get involved in educational workshops or outreach programs. Students may also volunteer at community tree planting events.

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Project Organizer Contact Info:

Nathanial Colbert-Sangree, Program Coordinator, the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative

nathanial.colbert.sangree@duke.edu, 919-660-1413

Project Status:

Active (2009-Present)

Offset Registry or Program:

Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI), a branch of Sustainable Duke, in collaboration with Urban Offsets (http://www.urbanoffsets.co/)

Protocol Applied:

Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative – Urban Forestry Carbon Offset Protocol, V 2.0

This protocol applies to trees that are planted within the boundary of an urban area as defined by the United States Census Bureau. In order to generate carbon offsets, said plantings must be additional as compared to a business-as-usual scenario in the absence of a carbon offset market. Once planted, trees are monitored for a minimum of 40 years to ensure that the carbon they sequester is stored ‘permanently’. The amount of carbon captured by each tree is estimated using the U.S. Forest Service Tree Carbon Calculator.

Cost per Offset ($ per mtCO2e):

$10-20

# of Total Offsets:

First DCOI project started in 2016 - no verified offsets yet.

Website: Duke Urban Forestry Program

Solarize Duke

Project Description & Co-Benefits:

Beginning in fall 2014, the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative co-led a Bass Connections in Energy project to research the current solar landscape in North Carolina.  After extensive research, the team identified a closing window of opportunity to take advantage of expiring state and federal tax incentives for residential solar.  Thus, the team designed and implemented the Solarize Duke campaign to help employees install rooftop solar before the expiration of these tax credits. In spring of 2015, the project team partnered with local solar installers and Next Climate to leverage a group discount rate and ultimately incentivize Duke University employees to install solar energy panels on their homes.  The project team hosted four educational events, attended by over 150 employees, and provided 294 home assessments.  Twenty-nine home solar instillations were contracted in 2015, totaling 152 kilowatts of solar capacity.

Solarize Duke provided students an opportunity for interdisciplinary research on solar policy and provided educational resources to the Duke community.  In addition to in-person educational events, a student-written “Jane Q” guide walks through the entire process of purchasing solar for a hypothetical Duke employee. 

Student Involvement:

The project was conceived and implemented in collaboration with five Duke University students through the Bass Connections program.

 Information session for the Solarize Duke program.

Information session for the Solarize Duke program.

Project Organizer Contact Info:

Nathanial Colbert-Sangree, Program Coordinator, the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative

nathanial.colbert.sangree@duke.edu, 919-660-1413

Project Status:

Completed (2014-2015) 

Offset Registry or Program:

N/A

Protocol Applied:

Internal

Cost per Offset ($ per mtCO2e):

$0

# of Total Offsets:

Approximately 2,000 mtCO2e over 25 years; however these reductions are not counted as offsets as they were not implemented or documented following an offset protocol.

Website: Solarize Duke

North Fields Afforestation Project

Project Description & Co-Benefits:

The purpose of this project is to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) through the afforestation of previously agricultural land presently managed as meadow in Oberlin College's North Fields. The project relies on saplings planted and self-recruited tree species to sequester carbon and promote native species forest growth. The new forest growth will sequester CO2 in these measurable and quantifiable carbon sinks. Additionally, the eliminating of the practice of simulated burning of these fields, which required mowing the fields twice a year, will result in a reduction of GHG emissions  from combusted fuel. Atmospheric levels of CO2 reduced through this project will be estimated using growth models for trees, shrubs, and other carbon sinks and applied to offset the carbon footprint of Oberlin College. Additionally, the project seeks to benefit the surrounding community through co-benefits of project implementation including: water & air filtration, local & migratory wildlife & pollinator habitat, heat reduction, wind break and storm barriers.

 Student project organizers, volunteers and Oberlin College Grounds Staff planted trees to initiate the Afforestation Project.

Student project organizers, volunteers and Oberlin College Grounds Staff planted trees to initiate the Afforestation Project.

 

Student Involvement:

This project was developed by the student run Carbon Management Fund (an arm of the Green EDGE Fund) as an active experiment, comparing a section of the project that has been planted with saplings against project areas that are being encouraged to self-recruit and naturally succeed to forest. The project adds educational co-benefits for Oberlin College students who can engage and fulfill project research, monitoring and accounting. As one the first projects of its kind, using the Second Nature Peer Review higher education offset network’s protocols and utilizing Peer Review to accomplish verification, this project seeks to pioneer this option for carbon offset project creation and provide an example for future efforts.

   
  
 
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   Aerial Image of Project Site, green marks the afforestation site boundaries.

Aerial Image of Project Site, green marks the afforestation site boundaries.

Project Organizer Contact Info:

Heather Adelman, Assistant Director of The Oberlin Project

hadelman@oberlinproject.org, (440)-775-6177

Project Status:

Inactive; awaiting peer review process development

Offset Registry or Program:

Second Nature Carbon Commitment & Peer Review Network (in development)

Protocol Applied:

Afforestation Protocol created by Oberlin Carbon Management Fund (CMF) & the Duke Carbon Offset Initiative (DCOI)

Cost per Offset ($ per mtCO2e):

Estimate will be available in the future. Cost of plantings during Spring 2013 & Fall 2014: $4,650.00

# of Total Offsets:

An estimated 1,143.82 mtCO2e will generate from the project over its 40 year lifespan.

Website: North Fields Afforestation Project

Urban Forestry and Carbon Offsets Pilot Program

Project Description and Co-Benefits: 

In 2017, the University Sustainability Practices (USP) office at Arizona State University (ASU) piloted a new urban forestry program to explore the viability of generating carbon offsets through local tree planting projects.

The pilot utilized the Urban Forestry 2.0 protocol from Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI). ASU partnered with the cities of Phoenix and Tempe to install trees in parks and community gardens. Urban Offsets (UO), a privately held company from North Carolina, manages the data and will eventually certify the offsets generated by this pilot. The initial project period planted 359 trees at 15 sites, which are expected to sequester around 1,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by the time that the project reaches full maturity.

The pilot implementation included three major components: 1) improving urban tree canopy by planting 350 trees through partnerships with municipalities and volunteer events; 2) catalyzing a local carbon offsets industry by hosting technical trainings and mobilizing municipalities; 3) Educating youth by developing and piloting curriculum around urban forestry and carbon cycle.

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Student Involvement: 

Students and the greater community engaged with the new program by participating in volunteer planting events, attending technical trainings and a panel discussion, and conducting inventory data collection on the planted trees.

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Project Organizer Contact Info: 

Corey Hawkey, Assistant Director, University Sustainability Practices

Corey.Hawkey@asu.edu

Project Status:

The project is near completion; it was started February 2017 and is expected to conclude by the end of 2018. The pilot program will proceed with additional future tree plantings and research on the urban heat mitigation impacts of ASU’s trees.

Offset Registry or Program:

Urban Offsets

Protocol Applied:

Urban Forestry 2.0 protocol from Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative

Cost per Offset ($ per mtCO2e):

$15/ton

# of Total Offsets:

666 offsets for ASU

666 offsets for Duke

1332 offsets total

WEBSITE: ASU University Sustainability Practices