Maine pioneers method to sell carbon emission reductions from weatherization efforts

The revenue will be used to make more Maine homes energy efficient

By Ramona du Houx - July 6th, 2010 ·


MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick talks about carbon savings. Photo by Ramona du Houx
Over the past two years MaineHousing has developed the world’s first system to measure the carbon savings created by weatherization of housing.

MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick said that her agencies method to measure the carbon savings for single and multi-family buildings has been approved by First Environment. Their third party accreditation is accepted by the Voluntary Carbon Standard Association and recognized by the carbon market.

“We are making history, we’re the first in the world, ” said McCormick. “This validation is a game changing event. Our methodology will change the way housing and the carbon market interact. For the first time, there will be a tool to measure the impact weatherization has on carbon savings. We will be able to create real, permanent, verifiable, and salable carbon emission reductions when we weatherize a building.”

Because of this system the state will be able to sell the carbon dioxide savings created by weatherizing homes and apartments. That revenue will be used to weatherize more homes in the state, which furthers the state’s goal of weatherizing all homes and half of the businesses by 2030.

Over the past decade carbon dioxide has become a commodity in countries around the world. In America the North East’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first mandatory, market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, auctions carbon dioxide allowances. Since its inception REGGI has brought in $662.8 million in proceeds to the ten states participating— which includes Maine.

In Maine the funds are invested into energy efficient programs, as grants to companies, weatherization efforts and other energy saving programs. Many of these programs are administered through the Efficiency Maine Trust where citizens need only dial 2-1-1 to obtain any information and help they may need to weatherize.

One carbon credit equals 1 ton of carbon dioxide. The credits are bought and sold as part of an emissions market, which gives companies the incentive to reduce emissions.

McCormick estimated that between MaineHousing and Efficiency Maine Trust programs, the state could sell 8,000 carbon credits a year.

“Once finalized, our methodology will create a new way to generate private capital and expand weatherization efforts, both in Maine and across the nation,” said McCormick. “As the price of carbon rises, the sale of emission reductions will become a larger source of revenue to pay for weatherization.”

A second accredited validator must approve the states method. Once that is achieved, MaineHousing will propose the first weatherization project for approval to the Voluntary Carbon Standard Association. After fuel and carbon dioxide emission reductions have been verified the carbon savings can be sold.

The Ford Foundation and the housing finance agencies of New Jersey and Pennsylvania provided financial support. The Oakridge National Laboratory and the Harvard University Environmental Law Clinic provided technical support.

MaineHousing has submitted a grant to the federal Department of Energy to help other states utilize the methodology to expand their own energy efficiency programs.