Climate Action Offsetter: The City of Austin Advances Toward Carbon Neutral Operations by 2020

Climate Action Offsetter: The City of Austin Advances Toward Carbon Neutral Operations by 2020

written by the City of Austin Office of Sustainability
austin

In 2007, the City of Austin’s Mayor and Council approved a resolution to make Austin a leading city in the fight against climate change by establishing the goal of carbon neutral municipal operations by 2020. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, at the time this was the most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goal for municipal operations in the United States.

Downtown Austin

Since that time, City of Austin departments have been implementing greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans that have resulted in a 75% reduction from the baseline in 2007. These reductions were achieved through facility retrofits, as well as by using less gasoline and diesel and more B20-diesel, E85-ethanol, propane, and compressed natural gas, and electric-powered vehicles in the City’s fleet. In 2011, Austin became the largest local government in the United States to subscribe to 100% renewable energy to power all City-owned buildings and facilities, which avoided the greatest amount of emissions toward the carbon-neutral goal.

Convention Center (002)Even with implementation of these strategies, projections showed that we would not be able to eliminate all the sources of emissions associated with municipal operations by 2020. To meet the carbon neutrality goal, the City began purchasing carbon offsets in 2013 to reduce emissions by 5% per year. The first department to purchase offsets as part of their emissions reduction plan was the Austin Convention Center; over the next three years, all City departments will offset the remaining emissions.

The City of Austin identified several additional benefits to carbon neutrality that could be achieved with purchasing carbon offsets from local or regional projects:

  • A stronger local economy.
  • Reduced pollutants that can impact the health of our constituents.
  • Job creation for people in our community.

We established a scoring matrix to assess third-party-verified offset opportunities that gave priority to offset projects that are closest to Austin and provide additional benefits for our city.

Local government can play a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from direct sources – such as power plants, energy use in buildings, transportation, waste, and the production of material resources – through policies, initiatives, and incentives. In particular, because the City of Austin controls Austin Energy generation planning decisions, land use policy that affects transportation options, and waste management policies, we can implement strategic policies to achieve real results in greenhouse gas emission reductions.

However, even with these efforts, some emissions sources currently do not have technological or economical zero-carbon solutions. In these cases, carbon offsets offer the best means of achieving emissions reductions to the atmosphere in the most cost-effective manner. To the extent that those offsets also provide additional benefits to emissions reductions, everyone in Austin wins.


Climate Action Offsetter: American Licorice Company Makes Red Vines Green

Climate Action Offsetter: American Licorice Company Makes Red Vines Green

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1. Please tell us more about American Licorice Company and its sustainability goals

In 1914, the American Licorice Company’s factory began in a small rented space in Chicago. The Company’s first product was Black Licorice Twists. At the time, every metropolitan center in the country (except for the southern states) had at least one licorice manufacturer. All the licorice was sold unwrapped and was generally not shipped outside the metropolitan areas. Over the years, the company grew, expanding our production, distribution, and product line. In the 1950s, American Licorice Co. expanded beyond traditional black licorice and began producing Raspberry Vines, which later were renamed Red Vines® twists. And in 1990 American Licorice Co. expanded into the sour candy market with the Sour Punch® brand candies, which have become fan favorites.

alc-history

At the heart of everything ALC does is the concept that we are investing in the happiness of our key stakeholders, including our people, communities, and shared environment.

While a simple message, it has lead us to do some tremendous things, and to dream even bigger than before.

We were excited to enter new partnerships with The Conservation Fund to protect forests, and we enrolled in the NIPSCO Green Power and Constellation NewMix® Green-e-Energy Renewable Energy Certificate Programs. These were big investments to get us to our goal of being carbon neutral for scope 1 and 2 emissions.

We are conscious how our manufacturing processes affect our environment and resources. One of those valued resources is soil from which everything grows. And as our company grows, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to help preserve this essential resource. That’s why we’re Zero Waste Gold certified at both of our manufacturing facilities, which means we’ve diverted 90% of our waste from landfills through reducing, reusing, and recycling. We track this diversion ratio monthly and hope to become Platinum certified soon by diverting 95% of our waste from the landfill.

2. How did American Licorice Company choose to incorporate offsets into its sustainability program?

While reducing our direct energy footprint is our first priority, we were bothered we were still emitting a substantial amount of greenhouse gas.

We have made two investments to offset our carbon footprint. We purchase carbon offsets from The Conservation Fund for Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions associated with the natural gas usage we have been unable to eliminate, and to offset the emissions from 100% of the electricity generation of both of our facilities, we also invest in Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) through NIPSCO’s Green Power Program and Constellation NewMix®. The RECs supplied are sourced from wind energy facilities located in the lower 48 states.

Combined, these investments resulted in approximately 12,400 metric tons of CO2 e offset in 2016.

3. What elements of the chosen offset projects were most appealing?

Our partnership with The Conservation Fund hits close to home with a lot of our associates who work at our Union City, CA plant. Our COO John Nelson believes “that corporations have a responsibility to offset their environmental impact, and by partnering with The Conservation Fund we are also getting to ensure that future generations of Californians and Americans will have beautiful forests to enjoy, like my family and I have throughout the years.”

Our 2016 offset purchase from The Conservation Fund supports conservation and restoration of the Fund’s Garcia River Forest, which spans 24,000 acres in Mendocino County, California. In addition to trapping carbon, these forests are safeguarding important biodiversity and wildlife, like the endangered northern spotted owl.

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John Nelson also added, “Hopefully, as time goes by, all companies will take up the cause of conservation within their businesses, and join us in protecting the environment. I believe that, together, leaders in their industry and in their trades, will be a significant piece of the solution in solving some most urgent and challenging issues we face for our planet.”

4. How has American Licorice Company benefited from using offsets?

We hope by making these investments that our consumers and associates can take pride in the company they buy from and work for.

We love challenging and incentivizing our associates to improve sustainability practices at work and at home. We promote carpooling among our associates, have water usage reduction challenges and offer LED lightbulbs and water saving devices in our “ALC Store” to name a few.

5. What lessons have you learned from using offsets?

In early 2016 we performed an internal audit to calculate our carbon footprint to understand our environmental impact and determine if we could offset our carbon footprint. We are very excited to report our 2016 carbon emissions data to the Climate registry and have our data audited and verified by a third party.


Nitrogen Management Project Protocol undergoing revision: workgroup application available and RFP to develop quantification module due May 22

Nitrogen Management Project Protocol undergoing revision: workgroup application available and RFP to develop quantification module due May 22


How we spent the first Earth Day of the Trump Administration

How we spent the first Earth Day of the Trump Administration

As employees of a climate nonprofit, we heed the philosophy that Earth Day is everyday. But, we wanted to take special note on Earth Day 2017, the first such of the Trump Administration (and hopefully not the last) to celebrate our Earth. From enjoying nature outside and traveling by green transportation, to composting at home and making thoughtful choices about energy use, we choose to make smarter choices. We can make protecting air, health, and climate a priority in every aspect of our lives, not just on April 22, but every day.

IMG_6950 I went on a hike on the Bay Trail at Seal Point Park in San Mateo.

– Cindy

bikesharetoronto I spent Earth Day visiting Toronto for the first time. Although I arrived and departed on airplanes, I didn’t set foot in an automobile the entire weekend. They have a lovely express train from the airport into the city. On Saturday we spent the day checking things out on foot, as well as using bikes from the Toronto Bike Share. We also had dinner at a restaurant which features significant local ingredients and adapts its menu to the local growing season.

– Max

IMG_6951 I went car-free on Earth Day and enjoyed an extended walking tour of San Francisco, marveling in  the city’s walkability and urban forestry. We walked through Chinatown, Telegraph Hill, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf, Russian Hill, and Nob Hill. With the recent rains, the trees and gardens were quite lush, helping provide shade, comfort, and the glorious scenery that often spurs deep contemplation.

– Lauren

Trevor Earth Day Blog Photo I spent Earth Day going on an outdoor adventure in San Francisco with friends from my NJ hometown who moved to the Bay Area a few years back. The three of us hiked a trail off the beaten path in Lands End that hugged the northwestern coast of the city, offering stunning views of the ocean, rugged coastline, surrounding forest and Golden Gate Bridge! We couldn’t think of a better place to catch up than the great outdoors. We also worked together to collect trash along the way, “‘Cause”, in the words of Captain Planet and the Planeteers,

“saving our planet is the thing to do,
Looting and polluting is not the way,
Hear what Captain Planet has to say:

‘THE POWER IS YOURS!!’”

– Trevor

 heather-earthday I opted to use the least amount of energy possible on Earth Day. After a busy work week, I just wanted to stay inside and relax, so I decided to open windows and not run the air conditioner (on a 94 degree day!), use only one lamp at night, read a book instead of turning on the TV, and eat greens instead of using natural gas or electricity to cook dinner. Energy-saving tips that I’ll use more often! (Although, I might only be able to handle so many hot days in Los Angeles…)

– Heather

 IMG_4155 On this Earth Day, in between work emails I turned my compost windrows, topped up my worm bins with kitchen food scraps, counted tadpoles in my rain catches, walked with dogs in our local nature reserve, & picked wild flowers with my little girl Ariel!

– Sami

 IMG_6897 I planted some tomato seeds in an effort to both get closer to nature and it’s fruits, and also prepare for the apocalypse.

– Rhey

amy-earthday On Earth Day, I hiked (and “climbed”) Ladder Canyon and Painted Canyon Trails in Southern California. The trail starts by navigating through the canyon along the lower path, then using ladders to climb your way up, and, finally opening to the scenic views from above. Beautiful and fun way to spend Earth Day or any day!

– Amy

teresa-earthday This Earth Day, after a fantastic NACW (and lots of time spent indoors at the conference), I was craving some fresh air and nature. So after flying home from San Francisco earlier that morning, and seeing California’s incredible superbloom from the airplane (!!!), I decided to go for a hike on the nearby Palos Verdes Peninsula to check out our local superbloom. The wildflowers are absolutely incredible, and the views of the ocean and Catalina Island from lands under conservation by the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy, were breathtaking. It’s pretty impressive how much land PVLC has been able to protect on a peninsula known for multi-million dollar homes and the local International Trump Golf Course, and it was a great reminder of how important it is to get out and enjoy nature, helping me recharge, as well of how important land conservation is!

– Teresa


Climate Action Reserve honors top carbon offset project developers of 2016

Climate Action Reserve honors top carbon offset project developers of 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA  – The Climate Action Reserve, an environmental nonprofit organization and North America’s premier carbon offset registry, presented the Project Developer of the Year Awards to carbon offset project developers that achieved the most emissions reductions and had the most carbon offset project activity during the past year. The awards recognize organizations for their leadership in advancing climate solutions, in strengthening carbon markets, and in achieving emissions reductions that are real, additional and permanent.

“We are very fortunate to work with outstanding carbon offset project developers that dedicate their skills and resources to the development and implementation of successful carbon offset projects,” said Craig Ebert, President of the Reserve. “Today, we are recognizing project developers that made the largest contributions to the growth, strength and stability of the carbon market in 2016 by registering the most credits, registering the most projects, and submitting the most projects. It takes great vision and resolve to pursue groundbreaking innovations in carbon reductions and sequestration, and we thank the Passamaquoddy Joint Tribal Council, 3Degrees, and Sierra Pacific Industries for their leadership in reducing emissions to benefit our climate.”

Passamaquoddy Joint Tribal Council, in recognition of generating the most offset credits in 2016 with 3.8 million credits issued. The Passamaquoddy Tribe Improved Forest Management Project is a 90,000 acre Improved Forest Management project in Maine developed to the California Compliance Offset Protocol for U.S. Forests. The primarily spruce-fir and northern hardwoods forestland supports sustainable timber production and provides for a variety of cultural, recreational and wildlife objectives.

“The Passamaquoddy Tribe Improved Forest Management Project builds upon our sacred commitment to the protection of our forest resources and creates unique training and employment opportunities for our tribal members,” said Ernie Neptune, Passamaquoddy Tribal Forestry Supervisor. “This project is in line with the sustainable forestry activities that we have practiced since time immemorial but is unique in how it allows forest landowners to benefit from an innovative program designed to curb carbon emissions. We are thrilled to receive this recognition for our efforts to fund forest conservation and provide economic development for our people.”

3Degrees, in recognition of registering the most projects in 2016 with 13 unique projects. 3Degrees is a certified B Corp that works with organizations to build and implement customized renewable energy and carbon mitigation strategies. 3Degrees, previously Origin Climate, registered 13 projects in 2016 – 10 compliance livestock projects, one voluntary livestock project, and two voluntary landfill projects in 10 different states across the U.S. 3Degrees has been developing carbon offset projects with the Reserve since 2008, during which it has registered 20 landfill and livestock projects and been issued over three million credits.

“3Degrees is honored to receive the Project Developer of the Year award from the Climate Action Reserve,” said Mike Mondik, Vice President – Carbon Markets. “We listed our first project in 2008 and now we manage 20 projects on the Reserve generating consistent volumes of offset credits that provide environmental and fiscal benefits. Our company is committed to leveraging markets as a force for good and pride ourselves on being the honest and trusted voice in helping clients develop and implement strategies to fight climate change.”

Sierra Pacific Industries, in recognition of submitting the most projects in 2016 with eight Improved Forest Management projects submitted. Sierra Pacific Industries is a third generation, family-owned forest products company based in Anderson, California. The firm owns and manages 1.9 million acres of timberland in California and Washington. The eight projects are all located in California and cover 153,000 acres. The projects are expected to sequester emissions that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere while providing important benefits to forest habitat and wildlife.

“As California’s largest timber company, we understand and appreciate the importance of sequestering additional carbon through innovative forestry practices,” said Cedric Twight, California Regulatory Affairs Manager. “We are committed to managing our lands in a responsible and sustainable manner to protect the environment while providing quality wood products and renewable power for consumers. We’re honored to be recognized for our forest carbon project efforts, which is a reflection of our commitment to sustainable forestry.”


San Francisco favorites

San Francisco favorites

The Climate Action Reserve is excited to welcome delegates to San Francisco, California. NACW 2017 takes place at the InterContinental San Francisco, an iconic LEED Gold-certified hotel located in the vibrant SoMa (south of Market) neighborhood in the heart of the city.

San Francisco is one of America’s most dynamic and beloved cities, home to an unparalleled world of culture, history, architecture, and wonder. The conference venue is within easy walking distance to an exciting artistic enclave of museums, galleries, arts and entertainment destinations, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the African Diaspora, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the California Historical Society Gallery.

A Bay Area Bike Share station is located right outside the doors of the InterContinental, and the Powell Street BART station, cable car station, and Market Street MUNI lines are two blocks away, making it extremely convenient to get to attractions, activities, and eateries throughout the city. From the iconic and monumental Golden Gate Bridge to an artisan bean-to-bar chocolate factory or an independent bookstore that brought us the beat lit movement to the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill, San Francisco is home to the best cultural attractions and destinations.

To celebrate NACW’s return to the Bay Area, we asked a few of our colleagues to share their favorite spots in their neighborhoods. Check out their recommendations below!

lake-merritt-c Some recommendations (all in Oakland):

Favorite activities: Walk around Lake Merritt or hike in the Redwood Regional Park or Friday Nights @ OMCA

Favorite food: Miss Ollies, Swan’s Market, Brown Sugar Kitchen

– Alvaro Sanchez, Greenlining Institute

greens-photo-c For unbeatable California cuisine, try Green’s Restaurant which serves a vegetarian, locally-inspired menu at the Fort Mason Center.

Take a day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore for some spectacular hikes.

Visit the east bay (perhaps by ferry) and check out the hikes in the hills (Redwood Regional Park and Tilden are both great), eat some great food (the cooperatively-owned Cheeseboard serves excellent local pizza with imaginative flavors), or rent a bike and explore.

Burma Superstar and Mandalay restaurants for fantastic Burmese food

– Pacific Forest Trust team

burma-love2-c Burma Love (211 Valencia St.)

– Emilie Mazzacurati, CEO, Four Twenty Seven

826valencia-c I’d recommend 826 Valencia’s ‘pirate store,’ the Seward Street slides, and Glen Canyon Park. Food-wise, I recommend Zero Zero for fancy pizza and Mikkeller Bar for beer.

– Debra Kahn, E&E News

conservatory-of-flowers-c My favorite place to relax and reenergize is the Conservancy of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Take a book, take a walk, take a picnic and enjoy a beautiful place.

– Sara Kroopf, EDF


Policy memo released on monitoring and reporting for Forest Projects issued both CRTs and ARBOCs

Policy memo released on monitoring and reporting for Forest Projects issued both CRTs and ARBOCs


Public comment period open for Forest Project Protocol Version 4.0 – comments due May 19

Public comment period open for Forest Project Protocol Version 4.0 – comments due May 19


Reserve releases new version of the Verification Program Manual

Reserve releases new version of the Verification Program Manual


Reserve Board adopts Grassland Project Protocol Version 2.0

Reserve Board adopts Grassland Project Protocol Version 2.0