Greening Partnership for the North American Gas Forum

At Energy Dialogues we strive to bring together the entire value chain to shape a future of clean energy, fuel economic opportunity globally, provide energy solutions, and address challenges of the natural gas and wider energy industry. One of our annual initiatives is the North American Gas Forum, uniting leadership across the natural gas and LNG sectors, government, policy makers and environmental groups. WGL Energy recently was the greening partner for Energy Dialogues LLC’s North American Gas Forum, which took place in Washington D.C. beginning of October. Below we would like to share some more background on how the greening partnership has contributed to counterbalancing the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the forum.

What does greening an event mean?

This means that carbon offsets have been used to counterbalance the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the event. WGL Energy works with the organizers to collect data about energy use, food and other activities to calculate the emissions from the event and then match that with an equivalent number of carbon offsets to help counterbalance the environmental impact.

What is a carbon offset and how does it work?

A carbon offset represents a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions made in one place to compensate for emissions created in another place. Here’s how it works. A business like a landfill or transportation company develops a project that reduces greenhouse gas emissions above and beyond what is already required of them by law. These reductions are measured and verified by independent third parties. A carbon offset is then created for every metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions that is reduced from the project. These carbon offsets can be purchased by other individuals and businesses to counterbalance or green their carbon footprint. Since these projects would not otherwise have been developed without the carbon offset market, everybody wins. WGL Energy can help you green your carbon footprint by offsetting emissions from natural gas use, travel, conferences, events and more.

Why is this important? What are the benefits of carbon offsets? Why would an event or an organization be interested in using carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets are an affordable and innovative way to reduce the carbon footprint of an event, implement sustainable business practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support cleaner air and water in our region. Greening an event or business demonstrates a commitment to sustainability that increases your competitive advantage and enhances your brand while sending a powerful message to your attendees, customers, employees, and stakeholders that you are an environmentally responsible leader.

How many events has WGL Energy greened?

Over the past two year, WGL Energy has greened over hundreds of events ranging from youth sporting and arts events to concerts at Nationals Park and Wizards games at the Capital One Arena. We donated a total of over 10,000 carbon offsets which represents over 22 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and has the environmental equivalence of taking over 2,100 cars off the road for a year, or not consuming over one million gallons of gasoline.

What is unique about WGL Energy carbon offsets?

WGL Energy sources carbon offsets locally from landfill gas capture and destruction, as well as intermodal transportation projects. Our carbon offsets go one step further by also including investments in activities such as tree plantings that improve air and water quality. WGL Energy and its clean energy partner, Sterling Planet, jointly invest some proceeds in the Carbon Reduction Fund every time carbon offsets are purchased. The fund is managed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and goes toward new projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also helping to improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay region.

To date, this partnership has provided almost 1.5 million dollars to the Carbon Reduction Fund. The fund has been used to plant over 23,000 trees, and to support a variety of projects including the reduction of fertilizer use through improving farming techniques and community restoration projects.

How long has this option been around?

WGL Energy was the first supplier in the mid-Atlantic region to offer carbon offsets matched to natural gas usage back in 2010. We had a sustainable option for electricity through wind power and we wanted to provide customers with a way to green their natural gas use as well.

How many customers actually have chosen to use carbon offsets?

We have over 100,000 natural gas customers here in the mid-Atlantic region that have chosen to offset a portion of their natural gas usage and we have thousands of customers that choose to offset 100% or all of the environmental impact of their natural gas usage. In addition, we have businesses and universities that offset their events and travel as part of their commitment to sustainability.

In 2016, through purchasing carbon offsets, our customers avoided over 170 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. This is equivalent to taking over 16,500 cars off the road for one year.

How do carbon offsets fit into a sustainability plan for an organization?

We help our customers meet their sustainability goals through a portfolio of energy solutions, from energy efficiency measures to installing renewable energy projects, that work together to reduce an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions. We encourage organizations to do as much as they can to reduce their carbon footprint but there are often unavoidable emissions leftover from activities like events and travel. This is where carbon offsets come in. We work with an organization to estimate those unavoidable emissions and counterbalance them with carbon offsets sourced from projects here in our region.

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