Kudos to those in Cleveland  responsible for launching the country’s first community based carbon offset fund- the Cleveland Carbon Fund.  It is an innovative approach to offsetting your personal or business carbon footprint.  Richard Steubi’s Cleantech blog describes the difference between the Cleveland Fund and other offsetting options:

"There are already several options in the marketplace for interested parties to acquire emissions offsets to mitigate their carbon footprint. However, customers of these services usually do not know where the emission reductions will occur. For instance, if I use a service like TerraPass to offset the emissions from my next airline flight, I don’t know exactly where the emission reductions will occur. Looking at the emission reduction projects sponsored by TerraPass, they span the width of the entire U.S."

Similar to other carbon funds, green conscious individuals or businesses can calculate their carbon footprint then make a donation to offset their carbon emissions. However most other funds use donations to purchase renewable energy credits to fund renewable energy projects or carbon credits.  The Cleveland Carbon Fund uses donations to fund  and provide technical support for specific projects right here in Cleveland.   An example of the types of projects funded include:

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) Installation
 [I]t is estimated that $20,000 from the Cleveland Carbon Fund could fund local community development organizations to install 8,000 CFLs in 1,000 low-income homes across Cleveland. In five years, this initiative would save these homeowners $250,000 and reduce carbon emissions by 2,000 tons at a cost of $5 – $10 per metric ton of carbon reduced.

Showerhead Replacement
Low-flow showerhead valves use half as much water while providing the same level of pressure. According to the Department of Energy, installing these valves saves $11 in water heating every three months…a $30,000 grant from the Cleveland Carbon Fund could fund non-profit organizations to install these valves in more than 200 low-income homes…This project would save Cleveland homeowners almost $10,000 in hot water heating and annually reduce carbon emissions by more than 100 tons at a cost of less than $10 per metric ton of carbon dioxide reduced.

Home Weatherization
For approximately $50,000, the Cleveland Carbon Fund can support more than 20 weatherization projects in low-income neighborhoods across the community, employing many local citizens. Sealing and insulating homes to better retain heat during the winter will save Cleveland homeowners more than $5,000 in energy bills and reduce carbon emissions by 40 tons each year.

If we have learned anything from the first few weeks of the Obama Administration its that climate change, renewable energy and sustainability will be key themes repeated early and often.  Rather than fighting this change, Ohio and Cleveland would be smart to see how they can leverage this massive impending change to grow its economy. 

Innovation and leading will be key to securing green jobs in this difficult economy.  We need to see more proposals like the Cleveland Carbon Fund in order to compete with all the other areas of the country that are actively trying to brand themselves green states and cities. 

(Photo: laszlo-photo/everystockphoto.com)