Greenhouse Gas Emission Offset Evaluation and Trading at a Town-owned Landfill
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The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is the world's first global marketplace for integrating voluntary legally binding emissions reductions with emissions trading and offsets for greenhouse gases (GHGs). To facilitate fair comparison between different GHG offset activities, all GHG emissions and reductions are measured in terms of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The primary components of LFG are CO2 and methane, both of which are greenhouse gases, although methane is over 20 times more pernicious a GHG than is CO2. Since methane is destroyed (i.e., combusted to CO2) as a result of the Gas Collection and Control System (GCCS) flaring, any voluntary methane emission reductions achieved in this way are eligible for trading as a GHG emission offset on the CCX, with one credit issued for every tCO2e emission reduction achieved.

After voluntarily installing an active GCCS at the closed Amherst Landfill in 2003, the Town of Amherst (landfill owner) sought to create a revenue stream from the emission offsets gained from the voluntary control of landfill gas (LFG) emissions by flaring. The Town retained Geosyntec in 2007 to aid them in that process. As the first environmental engineering firm to join the CCX as an "Offset Aggregator," Geosyntec assists clients in selling emission offsets on the CCX that are associated with their GHG reduction efforts.

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Initially, Geosyntec conducted a CCX due diligence review of the landfill to confirm that the Town and landfill complied with CCX criteria for participation in an offset trading program, and that capture and control of LFG emissions was not required under State or Federal air quality regulations. As a part of the initial eligibility evaluation, we reviewed GCCS construction documentation, operation, and performance; calibrated the flowmeter accuracy; and verified the flare destruction efficiency and performance monitoring. After determining that the landfill met the CCX project criteria and that the Town was eligible to register with the CCX and trade their emission offsets, Geosyntec performed a town-wide GHG emissions inventory to establish the capacity in which the Town would register with the CCX.

Geosyntec submitted documentation to CCX to obtain preliminary approval for project registration and obtained third-party verification by a CCX-approved verifier. We also coordinated the services provided by the verifier on behalf of the Town. Currently, the landfill is registered as a CCX project and the Town is awaiting issue of its first verified landfill methane emission offset credits. Geosyntec entered into a three-year agreement with the Town to provide aggregation services, advise the Town as to the optimal trading contracts to pursue (e.g., spot pricing, futures, put options, etc.), as well as trade all offsets earned by the Town through December 2010.

Notable Accomplishments

Geosyntec successfully registered the Town of Amherst with the CCX to earn and trade GHG emission offsets generated through the flaring of LFG at the landfill, thereby creating a yearly revenue stream for the Town from the active GCCS. The Town is expected to realize annual GHG emission reductions on the order of 7,000 to 10,000 tCO2e, equivalent to gross revenues in the range of $21,000 to $30,000 based on prices of $3.00 per ton on the CCX.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
  • Client: Town of Amherst
  • Project Practice Areas: Contaminated Sites, Waste Management
  • Type of Facility: Closed Landfill
  • Services Provided: Town-Wide Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory; Chicago Climate Exchange Eligibility Evaluation; Coordinated Independent Verification by CCX; Methane Emission Offset Credit Trading
  • Type of Work: Greenhouse Gas Offsets
  • Governing Regulation: Federal and Local