A carbon offset is a certificate representing the reduction of one metric ton (2,205 lbs) of carbon dioxide emissions, the principal cause of climate change. Although complex in practice, carbon offsets are fairly simple in theory.
If you develop a project that reduces carbon dioxide emissions, every ton of emissions reduced results in the creation of one carbon offset. Project developers can then sell these offsets to finance their projects. There are hundreds of different types of carbon reduction projects. For example, a dairy farm can install an anaerobic digester to captures and destroys methane that would otherwise be released when animal manure decomposes. However, such anaerobic digester projects are typically expensive to install and maintain. In order to finance the construction and operation of a digester project, a dairy farm can sell the emission reductions in the form of carbon offsets.
Carbon offsets are therefore an available tool for individuals and organizations that wish to mitigate the impact of their own carbon footprint.
Funds collected will be contributed to these projects. The offsets from these projects are registered under the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) or Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) which assure transparency and quality in the creation, quantification, and verification of offset projects.
TerraPass Project Portfolio includes the following project types
Landfill Gas Capture
Landfill gas capture projects turn garbage into power. As organic waste breaks down it releases methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more powerful than CO2. According to the EPA landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States. Through the installation of gas collection and control systems, these projects not only result in the destruction of powerful green house gases, but the gas can also be burned in a generator to create renewable electricity.
TerraPass works with farms in communities across the United States to make the best possible use of animal waste. Through the use of anaerobic digesters, methane is captured as the manure breaks down and is then destroyed when it is burned as a fuel to produce electricity. Additionally these digesters can also produce a variety of other products that help the farm and reduce environmental impact. The fibrous material can be separated, dried and used as bedding while the liquid effluent can be used as fertilizer. Anaerobic digestion also aids local communities by helping to reduce water pollution and odor associated with animal husbandry.
Clean Energy from Wind Farms
Wind energy displaces electricity that is generated by dirty fossil fuels like gas and coal (the way that most power is currently generated in the United States). In this sense, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that are avoided depends upon the “carbon profile” of the electricity grid where the energy is produced. The carbon profile of each regional grid is calculated periodically by the US Environmental Protection Agency by adding up the weighted average carbon dioxide emissions of all commercial energy sources on that regional grid.
Abandoned Coal Mine Methane
Coal mines are a major source of methane emissions in the US, as methane gas naturally exists in coal beds and is released into the atmosphere through mine shafts. Methane escapes both from active mines and from abandoned mines that have reached the end of their useful life. TerraPass only supports methane capture projects at abandoned coal mines, as we seek avoid providing any benefit or incentive to companies involved in mining operations. Like other methane capture projects, powerful greenhouse gases are destroyed and can also be used to generate electricity, thus providing a “double” benefit.
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2014 Certificate of Offset
This certificate describes the actions we take on your behalf when you purchase carbon offsets from TerraPass, including the amount and types of emission reductions. An independent auditor verifies these claims and prepares a report that we publish on our website.
Your purchase commits TerraPass to obtain and retire a specific quantity of carbon offsets. A carbon offset represents a verified reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, measured in pounds or metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). By retiring carbon offsets, TerraPass ensures the reductions are permanent. They can never be reused or resold.
The quantity of carbon offsets associated with your purchase is listed on your order confirmation. This offset represents a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, not in other pollutants such as particulate matter, lead or nitrogen oxides. If you calculated your emissions using a TerraPass calculator, remember that the calculator provides estimates only. Details of our emission estimation methods are available on our website. A TerraPass offset does not reduce CO2 emissions directly from your activities; rather, your purchase supports emission reduction projects elsewhere.
TerraPass business practices
TerraPass makes every effort to ensure that the carbon offsets you purchase meet your expectations. We seek out bonafide emission reduction projects where TerraPass’ funding is important to the project’s success. We substantiate our efforts, in part, through the business practices listed here.
Standards and registries. Every project is conducted and verified according to a publically available carbon offset standard such as the Verified Carbon Standard or the Climate Action Reserve. TerraPass publishes the offset standard on our project portfolio web page. Each project’s emission reductions are listed on a public registry upon their verification.
Independent verification. All TerraPass projects are verified by an independent accredited Verifier. All verifications include audits of project data, project monitoring equipment, and project operations relative to the standard used. Emission reductions are always verified before they are included in our portfolio.
Published, audited portfolio. A completed portfolio, that shows which projects supplied the carbon offsets we retired to match our customer purchases, is published on our web site after our independent audit is complete.
Refund policy. If you are dissatisfied with your TerraPass purchase for any reason, you can return it within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.
TerraPass emission reduction project requirements
TerraPass’ carbon offsets come from a collection of projects which we call our “portfolio.” This approach enables us to provide a variety of project types in varying locations to every customer. The projects which make up our portfolio change over time. All projects must meet the requirements listed here.
Project type and location. TerraPass has considerable expertise in North American offset projects, and through 2013 we have supported only U.S. projects which derive from landfill and agricultural methane destruction, wind energy, abandoned coal mine methane destruction, and improved forest management. We seek new project types and consider projects in other geographies on an ongoing basis.
Project disclosure. We keep an up-to-date project list on our website. A selection of these projects will be included in our 2014 Portfolio. Please note that some 2014 Portfolio Projects may not be identified and added to the list until they are undergoing verification in 2015.
Project comment period. To ensure all projects meet customer expectations, we conduct public comment periods for all projects which supply our online offset portfolio. We publish the project name, location, offset standard and other supporting details on our website and invite comments. Each comment period is announced in our newsletter, website, and blog. Projects we decide to support are added to our project listing webpage on an ongoing basis. Projects which are supplied to meet specific customer requests, or which require customers to specify the project when they purchase, may not undergo public comment.
Project age and offset vintage. TerraPass projects must have started operations January 1, 2006 or later except forestry projects, which may have earlier start dates. Purchases during 2014 will be fulfilled with verified emission reductions which occur no later than December 31, 2014.
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