Carbon offset programs offer people ways to contribute money toward carbon reducing projects that counterbalance, or offset, their personal carbon producing lifestyles (e.g. taking an airplane flight).

Many carbon offset programs are viewed with skepticism because there is often a lack of transparency about how much money is going toward genuine carbon-reducing projects versus administrative costs and profits within the carbon offset corporation/organization. Frequently, carbon offset programs do not give adequate information about the progress of projects or the procedures by how putative carbon-reducing projects are selected. These problems are significant deterrents to participation in traditional carbon offset programs. Importantly, 100 percent of contributed funds go toward carbon-reducing projects at William & Mary.

Our analysis led to a conceptual change of how William & Mary could participate in a carbon offset program. We have created our own “in-house” program where contributors know the selection of projects, the actual carbon reductions generated by the projects and the progress made on an annual basis.

As far as we are aware, William & Mary is the first U.S. institution of higher education to create its own carbon offset program where the reductions projects are on campus.