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What is a carbon offset? The offset & clean energy basics!
April 2, 2008 @ 10:00 AM | By InterCall Blog

So we've been talking a lot in previous posts about "doing something" and making choices.  If you're looking to reduce the footprint of your company's data center, find a better way to power your office or home, or just try to balance the impact you're having, we've gathered some info for you below.  We talked to the folks at Green Mountain Energy to get some intel about making smart choices on energy and carbon offsets.  Here's what they had to say:

1.  How is energy “cleaner”?

Renewable energy is “cleaner” because it does not emit carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas that has been proven to contribute to global warming. The different types of renewable energy are wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass. These energy sources are classified as renewable because they use resources that are either inexhaustible or rapidly replenished to generate power.

2.  When I use “cleaner” energy, does that reduce my carbon footprint?

Yes, because part of your carbon footprint is the emissions from the electricity and heat you use in your home. When you use renewable energy instead of fossil fuel s for your electricity, you reduce the demand for “dirty” electricity at a fossil-fuel burning power plant. That means everyday activities that use electricity no longer add to your carbon footprint.The other parts of your carbon footprint are vehicle travel, air travel, heating, and sometimes diet.

3.  What is a carbon offset?

Carbon offsets come from clean technologies such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and forest sequestration. They are called carbon offsets because they help offset the carbon impacts of activities such as electricity generation from fossil fuels and transportation. When you buy a carbon offset, you are buying the right to claim that you are balancing out either all or a portion of your carbon emissions over a specific period of time.

4.  Can both residential and business emissions be offset?

For example, at BeGreenNow, we calculate the carbon footprint of the home or business according to data provided by the customer. That data includes electricity bills, air travel records, commuting distances and vehicle fuel economy, and any other areas the customer wishes to offset. We have created two divisions to serve the different needs of business and residential clients: eMission Solutions for businesses, and BeGreenNow for residences.

5.  When I buy an offset, where does my money go?

That depends on the company from which you buy the offset. At BeGreenNow, we let you see where your dollars are going – toward tree replanting in American forests, energy efficiency projects, and renewable energy facilities. But every carbon offset company backs up their carbon offsets differently, and you should never do business with a company that doesn’t explain its offset sources. Although there is no universal quality standard for carbon offsets, BeGreenNow strives to use the best sources that reliably remove carbon for your offsets.

Visit BeGreenNow to learn more about carbon offsets, calculate your carbon footprint, and explore our different options for offsetting your home and travel emissions.

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