Renewable Energy Credits (REC) and Carbon Offsets

What is a renewable energy credit (REC)?

A renewable energy credit (sometimes referred to as a renewable energy certificate or “greentag”) is an environmental commodity that represents the added value, environmental benefits and cost of renewable energy and sustainability programs above conventional methods of producing electricity, namely burning coal and natural gas. RECs help wind farms and other renewable energy facilities grow by making them more financially viable, thereby providing for incentives in development.

How does the REC system work?

Renewable energy facilities generate renewable energy credits (RECs) when they produce electricity. Purchasing these credits is the widely accepted way to reduce the environmental footprint of your electricity consumption and help fund renewable energy development. Purchasing RECs at the same quantity as your electricity consumption guarantees that the energy you use is added to the power grid from a renewable energy facility and supports the further development of these facilities.

Renewable energy credits or RECs, are how clean, green power is tracked and traded in North America.  Each REC certifies that one megawatt hour (MWh) of green power was generated by a renewable energy source.  When a green power system, such as solar panels or a wind farm, produces one MWh of electricity and adds it to the power grid, they also generate a corresponding REC in a one-to-one ratio.RECs represent the positive environmental attributes of clean energy that has been added to the power grid.  RECs are used by organizations around the world to help reach their sustainability goals and to meet both voluntary and mandated renewable energy compliance requirements.

Our clients range from Fortune 500 to small companies alike, and include hundreds of businesses and thousands of green building projects that vary in size, complexity and culture. They choose from a variety of our solutions to meet unique business goals within a multitude of budgetary conditions, and time and time again we hear glowing reports on the superior quality of our services and accessibility of our approach.

We work with established and emerging leaders in business who approach sustainability from a variety of angles and experience to yield results most important to their business. Our clients report a variety of benefits including:

  • Optimized operations
  • Reduced waste and emissions
  • Minimized and balanced carbon footprint
  • Increased awareness of climate-related risk
  • Increased stakeholder loyalty
  • Industry leadership and recognition
  • Bolstered media attention and public awareness
  • Improved relationship with and prioritization by buyers

If the human race is going to reach a point of true sustainability on this planet, we need to employ every method available to us. We need to reduce what we use, re-purpose our waste, and ensure that what we do use has the smallest possible impact. When it comes to energy consumption, conservation, efficiency, and green power go hand-in-hand. At GPS, we are constantly working with our clients to help them measure and reduce their carbon footprint by choosing renewable energy to offset their impact.

There are two ways to switch to renewable energy. The first is to build your own power generator on-site at your home or business (by putting up solar panels, a wind turbine, etc.).  The second is to purchase grid-sourced renewable energy certificates. For most companies and institutions it may not be practical to create their own energy–there may be limited natural resources, upfront capital, or a lack of desire to enter the business of energy generation. Luckily for these entities there is a way to choose green power straight from the grid – in the form of renewable energy certificates.

… More about renewable energy certificates

Once the electricity is on the power grid, there is no way to accurately track where it ends up; these clean electrons mix with the electricity generated from coal, nuclear, and all other “dirty” sources. We can think of the national power grid as one big pool of energy. Unless you are fully off-grid, there is no way to tell where the electrons running through your computer right now actually originated. However, if you have ownership of RECs corresponding to the amount of power you take out of the pool, you know that at least that much green power was generated at a renewable facility and added back to the power grid.

Buying renewable energy certificates is becoming more popular as we have seen an increase in voluntary buyers over the past six years. Buying RECs is the easiest way to show that you are green powered or using 100% renewable energy – an environmental commitment that can help connect you to customers, partners, and important stakeholders through marketing and branding efforts. Since the REC also embodies the environmental benefits of producing clean energy, such as a reduction in carbon dioxide, the buyer can also impact their greenhouse gas emissions through REC purchases.

The value of the REC system goes beyond value to the buyer. For renewable energy developers, RECs provide an additional income stream that can help make a project viable or more competitive with conventional fossil fuel generators. RECs are produced by clean and renewable sources of energy and allow companies and consumers to offset their conventional electricity use with renewable energy. Wind farms, biomass facilities, small hydroelectric power projects, geothermal projects, and photovoltaic/solar projects all benefit when RECs are purchased.

Carbon Offsets – Solutions for Your Business

Verified Carbon Offsets

Progressive organizations are seeking powerful solutions to their most pressing environmental impacts.  The use of carbon offsets (aka verified emission reductions) is an affordable, credible way for companies to counterbalance Greenhouse Gas Emissions, move toward carbon neutrality, and support carbon reduction projects.

Even the most efficient organizations have difficulty reaching net carbon zero.  Carbon offsets can be used to mitigate the emissions produced from a variety of operational activities including onsite fuel combustion, heating, natural gas consumption, fleet vehicles, employee commute, and business air travel.

The purchase of offsets supports projects that either remove Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the atmosphere or keep them from being released altogether.  These projects employ a variety of methods to accomplish this, from forestry to landfill gas capture.  GPG partners with carbon reduction projects working with our clients to match emission reduction goals to a compelling and powerful story of how carbon mitigation is improving environmental and human health.

GPG provides only the highest quality carbon offsets, certified by leading 3rd parties, including:

Carbon Offsets for LEED®

Even the most energy efficient buildings consume electricity produced primarily from fossil fuels such as coal, a leading source of industrial air pollution and climate change. Projects pursuing LEED® certification can earn as many as seven LEED® points by purchasing green power to offset a building’s energy use. Renewable Choice helps you communicate the environmental benefits of choosing green power.

Certification 2-Year Electricity Offset w/ Green Power Points Available
Commercial Interiors™ 50 – 100% 1 – 2**
New Construction™ 50 – 100% 1 – 2**
Core and Shell™ 50 – 100% 1 – 2**
Schools™ 50 – 100% 1 – 2**
Existing Building O&M™ 25 – 100% 1 – 4*
* 2 year total energy usage offset required
** 5 year offset the building energy use required, using VERs, or a combination of both RECs and VERs