Neutral UF Coalition

 

Project Description & Co-Benefits:

The NeutralUF Coalition is an innovative carbon offset program that allows University of Florida employees to voluntarily offset the carbon emissions associated with their daily commutes to and from campus. Employees who opt-in to the program elect to have a certain amount of money automatically deducted from their paycheck each pay period. Once they’ve set up their deduction, they don’t have to do anything on a recurring basis – it’s easy, automatic, and customizable.

Based on GIS analysis of employees’ home addresses, we recommend a $1 per pay period (approximately $2 per month) deduction, which is sufficient to offset the average employee’s daily commute. However, employees can choose to have more or less deducted based on their actual commuting distance or their desire to advance carbon neutrality at UF. Employees have the control – they can start, stop, or modify their paycheck deduction at any time using the myUFL online portal. This funding supports the following project types:

  1. Planting of native trees on conservation land – Long-leaf pine trees, native to north-central Florida, are planted on local conservation land to sequester carbon and restore native ecosystems and valuable habitat.
  2. Energy-efficiency upgrades to low-income housing – 60 watt incandescent light bulbs were proactively replaced with 13 watt Compact Fluorescent (CFLs) bulbs in a community wide staged initiative. This achieves a reduction in energy consumed per hour of bulb use and results in correspondingly lower monthly electricity bills for low-income residents who participated in the project.
  3. Landfill gas flaring and capture – The New River Regional Landfill, where these offsets are generated, is a local waste treatment facility recognized for their sustainable and often innovative solid waste management practices. New River has repeatedly partnered with UF students and researchers to test sustainable waste management and treatment procedures.  

Student Involvement:

This program is intentionally targeted at faculty and staff who commute by personal vehicle. In total, employee commuting contributes 6% to UF’s total carbon footprint. Students, who generally live closer to campus and favor alternative transportation options, contribute less than 1% to UF’s total carbon footprint. While we do hope to expand voluntary offsetting to student commuters, it will not use the same payroll deduction mechanism as this employee-focused program.

Project Organizer:

Megan Walker-Radtke, Sustainability Coordinator, Office of Sustainability

m.walker.radtke@ufl.edu, Office: (352) 392-7578

Project Status:

There was a soft rollout at the beginning of Fall 2016 and we are currently developing the communications and advertising blitz to raise awareness and increase participation.

Protocol Applied:

  1. Tree Planting: Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
  2. Energy Efficiency Upgrades: Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
  3. Landfill Gas Capture and Flaring: Climate Action Reserve (CAR)

Offset Registry or Program:

The University of Florida’s offset partner maintains a portfolio of offsets, including offsets generated through the planting of native trees on conservation land, energy-efficiency upgrades to low-income housing, and landfill gas capture and flaring.

The energy efficiency offsets are certified via the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and registered with GHG Green Projects Registry.

The landfill gas capture and flaring offsets are certified and registered with the Climate Action Reserve.

The tree planting offsets are calculated via Canadian Standards Association (CSA) guidelines but are not currently certified as the trees require approximately 10 years of growth before they begin absorbing large quantities of carbon emissions. UF’s offset partner We Are Neutral is waiting to apply for certification until they have a substantial number of 10+ year old trees that can all be certified at once.

Cost Per Offset ($ per mtCO2e) = 

~$12/mtCO2e

Total Offsets:

This voluntary employee commuting carbon offsets program – the NeutralUF Coalition – was only recently launched, so we haven’t yet purchased offsets through the program. However, the University of Florida and its athletics association have an existing relationship with We Are Neutral and have been purchasing offsets for several years as part of different initiatives.

Website: NeutralUF Coalition