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Projects Updates for Develop Local Carbon Offset Program


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  1. Draft Report - Local Carbon Offset Program

    DRAFT White Paper: "Recommendations for Initiating a Local Carbon Offsets Pilot Program for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign"

    Submitted by Stacy Gloss on May 9, 2022

    Conclusions & Recommendations reported below:

    The University of Illinois iCAP calls for reducing emissions from unavoidable travel by purchasing carbon offsets and creating a local carbon offset program.  Program planning and oversight can be achieved with the formation of a committee on carbon offsets and local offsets. Concurrently, the chancellors office should delegate where a carbon-off-set account would be housed – the account needs to be set up to receive and administer funds for competitive projects.

    The most that the iCAP Resilience Committee could do is submit a recommendation to the iWG to convene a campus working group for a local offset program directed by the Chancellor’s office and/or central Sustainability Council; and direct the set-up of an account to receive and administer funds.  Sustainability professionals hired at the University of Illinois could administer the program with oversight from the carbon offsets working group/committee.

    Edits or comments to this paper should be submitted to for review by the iCAP Resilience committee.

  2. Carbon Offset Technology Review Project

    iSEE Carbon Offset Program: Technology Research and Options
    Authors: Jane Williams, Rachel Pu, Fina Healy, Natalia Ptaszek, and Angela Andrada

    Students from the ABE469 Capstone Course taught by professor Ann Witmer met over the course of the Spring 2022 semester to research renewable energy technologies and carbon sink projects appropriate for campus and communtiy in our surrounding county-vicinity. The purpose is to provide technology options for the Local Carbon Offset Program described in the iCAP objectives.  A local carbon offset program would be designed to offset staff & faculty travel, and the offset funds generated can be used in local projects that reduce or sequester carbon on campus and in the community. The technologies reviewed by the student engineering team include:

    • solar photovoltaics
    • biodigestor
    • planting trees
    • prairie restoration
    • geothermal heating and cooling

    The final deliverables report and presentation are attached.

  3. ABE469 Student Support on iCAP Objective 3.5 - Local Carbon Offset Program

    Associated Project(s): 

    Meredith Moore and Stacy Gloss are working with ABE469 - Capstone students in the spring 2022 semester.

    Students will obtain (be provided) green house gas emission data for this consulting project such as: .

    • Urbana GHG Air  Emissions
    • U of I GHG  Emissions
    • U of I GHG Air-Travel Emissions
    • **maybe** Champaign Emissions

    For purposes of this project, the U of I client is aiming to eliminate emissions for air travel by FY30.  This project is aimed to offset emissions by 30,000 tons per year by FY 30, related to iCAP objective 3.5. 

    The client should research the Illinois Climate Action Plan carbon reduction goals related to unavoidable air-travel.  The client would like for the consultants to analyze technologies appropriate for campus and our surrounding community; and make recommendations based on this analysis. 

    Technologies that may reduce carbon, or offset carbon on the local scale are listed below.  

    • -solar pv
    • -green roof + roof top solar
    • -solar water heating
    • -geothermal heating
    • -prairie restoration
    • -tree planting
    • -waste to energy from campus farms
    • -compost to energy
    • -water-saving measures (on the heating side reducing fossil fuel use)
    • -cold-climate air-source heat pumps for residential homes
    • -replacement of gas/diesel vehicle with electric vehicles for campus fleet
    • -deep energy retrofits – air sealing & insulation
    • -small wind turbines

    The consulting team should evaluate the scope and project size for technology adoption. Including the anticipated GHGs avoided or offset with project adoption.  What is the cost of installation, including labor costs?  Provide data about cost effectiveness, with breakdown on cost of project per pound or tonne of GHG emissions saved. The projects should be ranked with most cost effective to least effective.  Your research, analysis, and recommendations will be presented by the client to the iSEE Resilience Team and other campus stakeholders to inform a local carbon offset program.


  4. Resilience Work Meeting 11/18/21

    Stacy Gloss, Meredith Moore, Morgan White, and Scott Tess met to discuss Resilience Team work. 

    We discussed:

    • NGICP presentation scheduled for December 10 with presentations by Heidi Leuzler and Eliana Brown
    • NGICP SSC Step II Application to be submitted 11/19/21
    • Carbon Offset Program development. Discussed that "local" for this objective means within boundaries of Champaign County.  Next questions to answer are: Why, What, How for developing a local carbon offset program.
  5. Meeting to discuss Carbon Offsets


    Present: Morgan White, Meredith More, Eric Green, Tony Mancuso, Stacy Gloss

    Gloss provided an overview of the local carbon offset objective as described in the iCAP. There was discussion that there are two sides to the issue. 1. The funding mechanism. 2. What projects are funded by off-setting faculty & staff travel impacts?

    The team was asked to review the carbon offset programs by the University of California System and Duke University as two different models. The first is a campus-system internal model where funds are used to develop projects on campuses throughout the system. A university-system advisory board receives applications for projects and approves the projects that meet program requirements.  The Duke carbon offset initiative involves a portfolio of offsets including a methane capture waste-to-energy at an industrial farm,  urban tree planting program, avoided conversion, wetland restoration, and a pilot program for residential energy efficiency piloted in 2012 --- these programs happen off-campus.

    We agreed that there is an economies-of-scale issue with local off-sets to overcome. For local-community-based projects, the cost per off-set is going to be higher than aggregating funds into one industrial scale project or program. An carbon-off-set company, for example, might contact a city and offer $1.00 per tree for off-sets, but it costs over $400 to install and maintain a tree.  (A program like this appears to generate a very small added value to the paid organization.)

    U of I campus renewable energy & energy efficiency projects can be tracked by the campus energy office. For community off-sets, an agency (university or otherwise) would need to set up a mechanism to collect and distribute funds for community-based projects, perhaps through a non-for-profit interface. Projects can include urban tree-planting, renewable energy, energy efficiency, prairie restoration etc. 3rd party verification is needed.

    As a next step, this team and others must define "local" in "local offset program" in order to meet this objective in the iCAP. Is the program going to be internal to campus, or include the local community as recipients of funds community projects?

    This team must also interpret what the iCAP is saying to off-set. 

    • Annual business air-travel by faculty & staff? 
    • Vehicle miles driven by faculty & staff on University business?
    • All electricity & heat generated by carbon sources for the University of Illinois?

    These questions are fundamental to designing and implementing a local-carbon-offset program.  

  6. Voluntary Carbon Market

    First launched in 2005 by non-profit Forest Trends, Ecosystem Marketplace (EM) has continuously run the world’s first and only independent international carbon offsets market tracking, reporting, and knowledge-sharing mechanism. In April, EM launched its new Global Carbon Survey online platform, aimed at taking carbon market transparency to the next level.

  7. Resilience iCAP Team Meeting Minutes from 4-06-21

    The Resilience iCAP Team met on April 6th, 2021 to brainstorm ideas for public engagement for creating our first Environmental Justice Plan. Members identified important avenues for learning about local intutions on what are relevant barriers to equitable health and safety in our communities. Moving forward, the Biodiversity Plan and EJ Plan will look to possibly engage the Department of Urban Planning and other students who will work on focus group interviews over the summer. The meeting concluded with an overview of the current progress of all Resilience iCAP objectives and future steps.

    Meeting minutes and chat log are attached! 

  8. Study Abroad Carbon Offset Manual

    Leah Courtney and Parima Michareune, two GFX Scholars in the Women in Engineering program, worked with Meredith Moore in spring 2020 to develop a carbon offset manual for University of Illinois study abroad programs (manual attached). In fall 2020, we will work to pilot this carbon offset program for engineering students who study abroad. 

  9. Preliminary carbon offset research

    iSEE intern, Julija Sakutyte, and Meredith Moore have conducted preliminary research into successful local carbon offset programs, including what other institutions have implemented (summary attached). Next steps include: select a value per pound of CO2, develop scope of carbon emissions, identify local projects to fund, and track emissions reduced. 

  10. Spring 2020 Project Deliverables

    Final Project Deliverables for Spring 2020

    There were 7 projects completed by the WIE-GFX Abroad Scholars in the Spring 2020 semester of ENG 177

    1. Armory Bike Path Restoration
    2. Study Abroad Carbon Offset
    3. Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
    4. AASHE STARS Report 2020
    5. Food Waste
    6. Sustainability Best Practices Guide
    7. EPA SmartWay Program
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