Q: Why should I consider purchasing carbon offsets?
A: Carbon offsetting is a tool that allows you to ‘lower’ your carbon impact. Minimizing your overall carbon output, or carbon footprint, should be priority number one but, it is not always possible to completely eliminate all of the carbon output from our daily activities. For instance, it may be hard to justify getting rid of your old gas guzzler that only sees a few thousand miles of travel a year, vs putting out $10,000 or more for a new or used electric vehicle. Or, perhaps there is uncertainty about how much longer until your home seems too big and empty as the kids are out of the house and you’re thinking of downsizing. You’re hesitant to take on the 3+ year cost recovery that can come with swapping out an oil stove for a heat pump. Or, you travel often and are feel a responsibility to do something about the impact of your air time. Most of us have issues like these and carbon offsetting provides a vehicle for dealing with them.
Q: How does the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund work?
A: For those seeking to lower their carbon footprint and pay to offset some of their carbon production, the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund offers a number of options. Carbon can be offset for your family, household, travel, Juneau vacation, and more. Your offset purchases will finance the removal of carbon-heavy and expensive-to-operate oil heating equipment in lower-income homes and replace them with hydro-powered, high efficiency air source heat pumps.
Q: Many offset funds are third-party verified. Is the JCOF verified? How can I trust that offset money is actually going where you say it is?
A: Verification is an expensive component to an offset program, often requiring up to $10,000. As 2019 is our first year of operation, we do not have adequate funds to seek program verification. The Juneau Carbon Offset Fund relies on studies, facts, and figures from JCOS, heat pump installers and other existing and successful programs for accurate numbers, data and carbon costs. We have confidence in our numbers and know that the carbon production eliminated through our program would not be possible without the program.
Additionally, the non-profit Juneau Community Foundation provides administrative assistance to the Fund. The financial expertise of both the staff of the Foundation and its board is an invaluable asset to the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund. The Foundation receives all offset money from the program and provides the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund with funds as needed to pay for home heating conversions.
Q: Your program will swap heat pumps for oil-burning heating systems. How do heat pumps work? Don’t they use power too?
A: Renewable Juneau focuses on converting heating systems to heat pumps and our website offers a tremendous amount of heat pump information. A key feature of modern heat pumps is their ability to operate efficiently in the moderately cold temperatures experienced during Juneau winters. Visit Renewable Juneau’s heat pump pages for answers to nearly all of your heat pump questions. And yes, a heat pump requires electricity to operate. Even still, a heat pump can cut heating costs by upwards of 60%.
Q: How much oil can be saved per average home per year?
A: According to studies performed in Juneau by the city’s Commission on Sustainability (JCOS), the average Juneau home burns 780 gallons of diesel heating fuel each year. This is an average figure with fuel consumption levels on either side of 780. The average volume of oil eliminated from the Fund’s first 12 installations is 550 gallons. Energy and home efficiency play large roles in annual fuel consumption. We encourage home owners to make energy efficiency a priority with the aim of lowering annual fuel costs and lowering their home’s carbon footprint. Carbon offsetting should follow.
Q: How do you determine what homes are eligible? Are there criteria or is there an application process?
A: Yes, there are eligibility criteria and there is an application process. For more infomation, visit our Apply page.
We take a very careful look at all applicant’s financial and home utility records to make determinations as to which homes are best suited to this program. Basically, if the applicant meets the income criteria, burns oil for heat, and has a relatively tight home, there is a good chance that this applicant will have a successful application. We use the services of Alaska Heatsmart to help in making an accurate assessment of a home’s energy situation and in determining what sort of heat pump may best meet that home’s needs.
Q: My tourism business is interested in becoming a sponsor or partner to the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund. Yet, our trips are costly already and we hesitate to place additional expenses on our guests.
A: Carbon offsetting does not have to be expensive. The per person offset price for a local whale watching or flight seeing excursion is a mere few dollars.
Our business sponsors’ and partners’ involvement shows their customers that they are actively engaged with both their community and its future. Supporting the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund is a flag that can be waved and is a proactive indicator of your commitment to Juneau, sustainability, climate action and local families.
Businesses who partner with us by offsetting their carbon in their push for carbon neutrality, by donating administrative funds, through helping to distribute promotional materials, by offering a link to our website in their marketing materials, or adding a small offset fee to the final bill of a trip guest or customer, will be promoted by the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund. We will print your logo on our promotional materials, we will display banners listing supporters at local events and we will mention your support in both news, social media and on our home page.
Visit our business support page to provide us feedback on how you would like to participate!
Q: There seems to be an abundance of media addressing issues with carbon offset programs and their effectiveness. Is the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund different?
A: Carbon offsets are a complicated topic, and failures – especially with forestry offsets – are an important part of that. One distinction that is important, but which is often glossed over, is that of the difference in projects that eliminate carbon vs. those that capture carbon. On the capturing carbon end, there are projects that move carbon into self-sustaining reservoirs and those that require active management to prevent re-release of the carbon. All together, this makes for a spectrum from something like capturing methane from landfills and burning it for electricity (reducing emissions) to planting trees that must then be kept alive (capturing carbon into a reservoir that requires active maintenance.) Active maintenance – whether it’s keeping a forest alive or preventing failure of a tailings pond treatment facility, or keeping future generations from unwittingly digging up nuclear waste – is a difficult problem, and failure is very likely.
This program is designed to eliminate carbon, not capture it. There is no need for active management. The unit is installed, the oil burner removed and decommissioned and the creation of carbon eliminated. And, with the Fund’s focus on lower-income families, the carbon that is eliminated is ‘additional’, meaning that the elimination would not have occurred without the funds made available by the program.
Q: Can I pay for my offsets with a check?
A:If you would like to pay for your offset purchase by check, total your cart and note the cost indicated. A check for that amount can me made out to ‘Renewable Juneau’ and ‘JCOF’ can be written on the memo line. Checks should be mailed to:
The Juneau Carbon Offset Fund
c/o Renewable Juneau
P.O. Box 2227
Juneau, Alaska 99801
The Juneau Carbon Offset Fund will email you a receipt for tax deduction purposes if you provide your email address. Or, provide your mailing address and we’ll mail you a printed receipt.
Q: I’d prefer to make a smaller and regular payment for offsetting. Is there a recurring or subscription payment option available?
A: The Juneau Carbon Offset Fund currently has three subscription options, $10/month, $25/month and $50/month. These will be charged to you each month and can be canceled at any time. A description of what each option can offset can be found by clicking on the options icon on the Preset Offsets page. In order to enroll in our monthly offset subscription program, a PayPal account is required. We would like to offer other payment options for this service, but doing so would require an additional administrative expense on our part. We do all that we can to keep our admin costs as low as possible.
Please contact us with any other questions you may have!