Berkshire Offsets all Carbon Emissions due to Transportation
By Elijah Merritt ‘12
A carbon offset is a credit that an individual or organization can purchase to negate a carbon footprint. Money spent to purchase carbon offsets can be used by a company to fund renewable energy projects, finance sustainable development, plant trees or expand landfill methane projects. These projects either take away carbon from the atmosphere or significantly reduce its output. Jackie Pape ‘14, a fourth former in the sustainability class, measured Berkshire’s emissions due to campus vehicles, commuting, and airline use during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Jackie said that she “started by emailing all day students and faculty that commute to Berkshire to find out their addresses, the make and models of their cars, and whether or not they carpool. Then, I used Mapquest and www.fueleconomy.gov to calculate gallons of gasoline used last year via commuting.” Collecting the information related to campus vehicle and airline use took an equal amount of time and effort. Using the carbon calculator published by Clean Air-Cool Planet, Jackie discovered that Berkshire would need to offset just under 700 metric tons of CO2 if we wanted to offset all last year’s emissions due to transportation.
Offsetting emissions due to transportation will be necessary to bring Berkshire closer to its goal of carbon neutrality. Berkshire School started its path toward carbon neutrality when four students presented a Climate Action Plan to the board of trustees in 2008. Major projects such as the construction of a 2MW solar field, the establishment of a revolving loan fund for energy efficiency improvements, and the administration of several energy reduction education campaigns have pushed Berkshire closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2014.
After researching several different companies and spending time speaking with representatives, she was able to narrow her search down to the New Hope View Farm in Homer, NY. The farm owns an agricultural methane capture and destruction system. The system composts organic waste in a machine that limits access to oxygen, encouraging the generation of methane and carbon dioxide by microbes in the waste. This digester gas is then burned as fuel to make electricity. Derek Six, New Hope View Farm’s portfolio manager, voiced his appreciation citing also how impressed he was that Berkshire School gave students the opportunity to work on such a project.