Carbon Offsetting

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What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting is intended to compensate for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of industrial or other human activity. Some governments, companies, or individuals choose to offset these emissions through investing in projects that reduce or store carbon. Forest preservation and tree planting are popular methods of carbon offsetting; investing in renewable energy is another option.

Partnering with entities that wish to offset carbon emissions is a viable tool for funding solar systems on low-income homes. This tool not only addresses greenhouse gas emissions, but also equity issues: access to clean energy, improved economic security of low-income households, and the elimination of unaffordable energy burdens for low-income families.

How does it work?

Entities that wish to offset the emissions caused by new construction, renovations, or ongoing operations will typically seek out an organization that is capable of providing offsets. Many carbon offset retailers exist. They offer a wide variety of carbon offset projects, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and forestry.

Installing solar on Habitat for Humanity homes is a viable option for those entities that are seeking to offset carbon emissions. Habitat affiliates should seek out these organizations and enter into partnerships that aim to support the proliferation of solar systems on Habitat homes.

Organizations wishing to offset their carbon emissions can often be identified by their public-facing positions on sustainability and climate change. Large corporations such as Amazon, Walmart, Google, Apple, General Mills, IKEA, and Microsoft are taking significant strides toward carbon neutrality. Some are using carbon offsets as one method to achieve this goal.

Example: A business has decided to renovate their office building. The renovation will result in 5 million pounds of embodied CO2 emissions. The business wishes to offset these emissions by helping to fund solar on Habitat homes. The carbon offsets of a renovation project of this size would result in solar systems on 25-30 Habitat homes. Using carbon offsets to put solar on Habitat homes is desirable because it addresses three compelling issues: access to clean energy, economic stability, and climate-change solutions.

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