lynner Building Company's Carbon Neutral Challenge...Identify, Reduce, Offset
Flynner Building Company is committed leading the way in Idaho by constructing projects to a carbon neutral standard. The fifth standard of the NAHB National Green Building Standard is Indoor Enviromental Quality–This mainly focuses on the eliminating volatile organic carbons (VOCs) found in paints, caulks and adhesives. At Flynner Building Company, we take it a step further. We are not only concerned with indoor environmental quality, but also with the environmental impact of construction. We are identifying emission sources from home construction and renovation, reducing the sources of carbon emissions through staff, subcontractor and vendor education, and purchasing reforestation carbon offsets from Eco2librium’s (ECO2’s) Forest Again project¹.
What is carbon?
The use of the word “carbon” in terms like carbon neutral and carbon footprint usually refers to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions are primarily the result of burning fossils fuels (e.g. gasoline, oil, coal, natural gas), which are burned for things like transportation, production of electricity, and the heating of buildings. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas along with methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20). The word “carbon” often refers to these other greenhouse gases as well. Carbon emissions are generally measured in tons of CO2e (tCO2e)².
¹ For more information on Forest Again, visit www.eco2librium.net/forestagain.html.
² tCO2e refers to tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. Other GHG’s are converted to CO2 equivalents based upon their relative global warming potentials
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is the sum total of carbon
emitted, usually during a year, from a defined set
of sources. For example, constructing a home requires
transportation of materials and workers,
electricity consumption on site, waste disposal,
and so on. All of this results in carbon emissions.
In the U.S. the carbon footprint of buildings is
about 2.3 billion tons.
What is Carbon Neutral?
Carbon neutral means achieving a net zero carbon footprint, accomplished by reducing carbon emissions (e.g. driving less) and then by balancing the remaining carbon emissions with an equal amount of sequestered or offset carbon (e.g. purchasing carbon offsets). For more info:
Identifying the Carbon Footprint of Flynner Building Company
Emission sources used to determine the carbon footprint of Flynner Building Company during construction:
Electricity consumption on site
Natural gas/propane consumption on site
Solid waste disposal
Transportation of Flynner staff to and from site*
Transportation of subcontractors to and from site*
Transportation of materials* (if not incl. in subcontractors)
*Using a 10 mile radius
Flynner Building Company is proud to announce its first "Carbon Neutral Home Construction" project. The 2011 St Jude Dream Home is located in the Lakemoor Subdivision off of Eagle Road about one mile South of downtown Eagle Idaho. The architectural style is modern prairie, with an interior courtyard, inspired from the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a 2,673 squarefoot, single level, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with an office. The huge 3-car garage is hidden in the back of the home so that the 70 foot wide front elevation is all you see from the sidewalk! The front porch is over 70 feet long and has a 6-foot ‘floating’ eve roof line to cover it from the elements. The interior design is cutting-edge modern contemporary with finish elements not seen anywhere else.
Healthy In-Door Air Quality Features
Credible Ways to Reduce Carbon
Numerous international standards and certifications now exist for carbon offset projects (e.g. Clean Development Mechanism-CDM, Voluntary Carbon Standards-VCS, Climate/Community and Biodiversity-CCB) that use third parties to certify projects and verify carbon emission reductions. This assures buyers that the project has met rigorous criteria and that the carbon offsets are accurately calculated and properly accounted and retired. ECO2’s Forest Again is a Gold Level CCB certified project validated by Rainforest Alliance¹. It is the only Gold Level CCB project in Africa, and the first in the world under the new 2nd edition standards. Verification of credits will occur through VCS or CDM.
¹ For validation reports see: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/climate.cfm?id=forest_again
The Value of Reforestation Carbon Offsets
Scientific consensus is that atmospheric carbon levels need to be reduced immediately.¹
Reforestation projects are the only reasonable interventions that remove carbon from the atmosphere; other offset projects merely reduce future emissions (e.g. methane capture, renewable energy). Purchasing carbon offsets to reduce a carbon footprint is an immediate and cost effective tool, because lowering a carbon footprint can take time (e.g. changing vehicles to more energy efficient models), and some strategies may be cost prohibitive (e.g. purchasing solar panels). Reforestation projects create jobs in impoverished areas most likely to be impacted by climate change, conserve and restore threatened forests, and preserve biodiversity. In a global context, it does not matter where carbon comes from and where it is taken out of the atmosphere; all that matters is the total amount in the atmosphere.
Forest Again Carbon Offsets
There are two basic kinds of carbon offsets (ex ante and verified), depending upon the timing of purchase. Purchasing carbon offsets, regardless of the source, is not without risk. For example, land-fill methane capture or reforestation offsets are at risk to the extent that the captured methane or the trees are not permanent. Ex ante offsets are forecasted offsets (e.g. tons of CO2 predicted to be sequestered yearly by the planted trees), and the purchase of ex ante offsets means the buyer literally contributes to the project (e.g. creating jobs and restoring a forest) prior to receiving the verified offsets. The risk is that the growing trees could be damaged or destroyed either before or after verification. Verified offsets are those that are purchased after the offsets have been verified by a third party. However, purchasing verified offsets is usually just buying the offset rather than contributing to the project. Flynner Building Company is purchasing ex ante carbon offsets from ECOLIBRIUM’s reforestation project, Forest Again. By purchasing Forest Again’s carbon offsets, Flynner Building Company is helping to create over 300 jobs related to the planting of half a million trees to restore 1250 acres of Kakamega Forest. The growing trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere at a rate of about 25 tons CO2 per acre per year which is measured annually and verified every three years by a third party. Upon verification, Flynner Building Company receives the verified offsets.
¹ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2007. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. UNFCCC.