Scott Maloney is Director of Renewable Power at Carbon Solutions Group [www.carbonsolutionsgroup.com ], a project development, environmental asset management and advisory firm headquartered in Chicago,and Lima, Peru.
SABMAG: What does your company do?
SM: Carbon Solutions Group is headquartered in Chicago, and we have offices in Birmingham, Alabama and Lima, Peru. Our Renewable Energy Certificate [REC] desk is in Chicago, which handles Green-e RECs and Solar RECs. Our Birmingham office operates a facility that creates biofuels out of waste grease and blends onsite with diesel to reduce emissions from the addition of up to 10% biofuels. The Lima office was created to immerse us in the South American Carbon Credit market. We have consulted on a first-of-a-kind Bus Rapid Transit System project with the municipality of Lima and multiple other Carbon projects in South America.
SABMAG: You personally are mainly involved with Green Building and LEED projects. How exactly do you help LEED projects?
SM: We work within LEED to provide Green Power/Renewable Energy Certificates [RECs] for projects to achieve points within LEED. Projects can achieve up to 6 points depending on the LEED rating system. The Green Power Points are a very quick and cost effective way to achieve points. We work with renewable energy generators to help them monetize their environmental assets. For every 1 MWh of electricity generated from a renewable resource, the generator is awarded 1 REC. These RECs are then bought, sold and traded independently of the actual power, providing an additional revenue stream to the generator. Renewable electricity is more expensive to generate than traditional “Brown” coal/nuclear power, therefore, any way to help these generators achieve additional revenue streams to help bridge that gap is very important.
SABMAG: Carbon Credits and RECs are different assets. How are they different and how are they treated differently in the build environment?
SM : Many people confuse RECs and Carbon Credits; they are similar, however in the built environment they conquer different issues. RECs should be used to cover a building’s electricity consumption. However, a Carbon Credit can be used to offset ALL energy consumption. We are seeing a shift from RECs in LEED’s requirements to the usage of Carbon Credits for the Green Power Points. The difference between a REC and a Carbon Credit is the way they are created. A REC is the generation of 1 MWh of renewable electricity. Creating a Carbon Credit is the reduction of 1 tonne of CO2 emissions that are occurring in current practices. This can be achieved in multiple ways; for example, fuel switches from coal to natural gas, reducing methane emissions from farm/dairy operations, and the capping of unused landfills/coal mines that are releasing methane. The captured methane in these situations can be flared to create oxygen and CO2, which is 21 times less as destructive as methane, or the methane can be cleaned into renewable natural gas and used instead of coal or another fossil fuel.
SABMAG: Is there a way that a city or a group of buildings could create carbon credits within a city?
SM : One way for cities to create a carbon project could be to provide a fuel switch to existing district energy projects. There are over 100 district energy systems currently in operation in Canada, some of which are currently using gaseous and liquid fossil fuels. If all of these systems were to make a switch to biomass, surplus heat from industrial processes, or possibly even the natural gas from a project mentioned in the last question, we could easily reduce the amount of gaseous and liquid fossil fuels, thus reducing the amount of CO2 emissions. This reduction in CO2 emissions could be verified and monetized in the form of Carbon Credits to help fund the fuel switch operations.