bringing home green credits

By now everyone is familiar with the concept of undoing one's daily damage to the earth by planting trees or contributing to environmental causes. It's hip to be carbon-neutral, and in January, Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) launched its own version of the idea to help fund its mission of providing green homes for low-income families. In this two-part program, businesses and individuals can offset their carbon footprint with tax-deductible contributions to the Green Communities Offset Fund. In turn, ECP channels those funds directly to developers who can prove they've reduced emissions in their affordable housing projects.

There's no cost to developers to participate, and ECP bears the cost of measurement and verification, but the projects must be built to Green Communities criteria (see www.greencommunitiesonline.org/tools/criteria). “We'll have a third-party entity measure how many tons of carbon have been reduced per project and then verify that the reductions are taking place over the life of that carbon credit,” explains Dana Bourland, senior director of ECP's Green Communities Initiative.

The organization is creating a carbon calculator that will be available on Green Communities' Web site to help contributors quantify their carbon footprint. ”We'll be the first contributor, paying to offset leftover carbon emissions from travel to our conference in Cleveland” last November, Bourland says.