What can one person do? It's the question on everyone's mind when discussing global climate change.
But Tom Reilly and Paul Herrgesell may have found an answer that goes beyond reduce, reuse, recycle. Their new slogan: measure, reduce, earn.
Yes, earn. My Emissions Exchange, Reilly and Herrgesell's company, is an online community where consumers can earn money by lowering their utility bills -- and their carbon footprint.
How It Works
Reilly and Herrgesell, the company's president and project manager, respectively, have been trying to develop a way to "incentivize the consumer" for nearly two years. What they came up with was a model for selling personal carbon credits.
"(It's) a new idea," said Herrgesell, "but a very powerful idea."
To get started, you create a personal profile with usage data from your utility bills over the last year at My Emissions Exchange. Then, you reduce your energy consumption. My Emissions Exchange certifies your personal carbon credits, and sells them for you in the global voluntary carbon market.
The carbon credits are equal to a one-ton reduction in carbon emission, and are currently trading between $10 and $25, according to the site.
"This is the only effort out there that can align green activity with financial benefit," said Reilly.
According to Environmental Leader, the voluntary carbon market doubled in 2008. With the people at My Emissions Exchange acting as carbon broker, everyday homeowners can now sell their reductions to companies interested in offsets. My Emissions Exchange makes a 20 percent commission on every credit sold, but the site is free to use and there are no penalties if you don't reduce. After a credit is sold, your portion of the profit is deposited in your PayPal account.
Herrgesell said that with just a 10 percent reduction -- attainable by switching your light bulbs to energy-saving CFLs or adjusting your thermostat by one degree -- you can generate your first carbon credits within two to three months.
Because the meters measuring your home-energy use are already in place, the carbon credits certified by MyEmissionsExchange.com are more verifiable than credits generated from tree farms and agricultural operations. The site uses a year's worth of energy-use data to compare June of 2008 to June of 2009, for example, as well as degree-days to track temperature variations, so they are also more accurate.
"The more changes you make, the more reductions you make, your credits will accrue," said Herrgesell. "Once you get to a point where you say OK that's enough reduction, as long as you're below the baseline you're still saving."
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