Contractors Aggregate Carbon Credits

January 01, 2008
Climate Solutions Special Issue
A version of this article appears in the Climate Solutions Special Issue issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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Contractors accredited by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) offer utilities and state conservation programs huge opportunities to verify savings not only in energy usage in existing homes, but also in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That’s because the testing in and testing out procedures that BPI Accredited contractors conduct at every home performance job can be used to calculate and document carbon and other GHG emissions savings.

In New York State, BPI Accredited contractors participating in the Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) program have been racking up all types of savings—beginning with completing 16,734 home performance jobs through September 2007. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which administers HPwES in New York, regularly undergoes an extensive evaluation of program savings—and the most recent results are noteworthy indeed. In addition to saving on average over 970 kilowatt-hours per home per year, the program has saved on average an impressive 34.6 million British thermal units of natural gas and 5.7 million British thermal units of oil per home per year. How can these savings be translated into a commodity that could be traded or sold? NYSERDA has verified that over 50,500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) have been saved through the HPwES program to date. That’s an average of 3 tons of CO2 per house. On average, homes in New York that have received home performance contracting work save 0.5 tons of CO2 each year in avoided electrical consumption, 2 tons of CO2 in avoided natural gas consumption, and 0.5 tons of CO2 in avoided oil consumption.

Avoided GHG pollution is fast becoming a marketable commodity in the United States (see “Reducing Greenhouse Gases—and Reaping the Benefits,” p. 14). A company or program that chooses to sell avoided emissions credits can gain an additional return on its conservation investment.

To do this, program sponsors will need to verify the energy and GHG savings realized by all implemented efficiency improvements. They would do this by first establishing a benchmark energy consumption level by testing in during a comprehensive home assessment on each house before doing any work. Then they would verify that the emissions savings that were created through the home performance improvements were real by testing out at the end of the job. This is what BPI Accredited contractors do every day.

Larry Zarker is the chief executive officer of the Building Performance Institute, which is headquartered in Malta, New York.

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To learn more about BPI Accredited contractors, visit

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