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Frequently Asked Questions

For Businesses, Universities, and other sustainable organizations:

What does Urban Offsets offer?

Our unique offering involves the bundling of purchased third-party verified carbon offsets with tree plantings in local communities. This methodology presents a one-two punch against the traditional methods of offsets. Our model gives you the best of everything: local trees with proven ROI and positive impact that truly reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, our deep industry knowledge allows us the opportunity to help our clients make the right choices given the traditional risks inherent in the marketplace.

Does this present an ROI opportunity?

Our unique local-impact model provides a wealth of opportunities for your organization to make an impact on various levels. First, we assist in helping our partners identify and understand the associated project risks in efforts to steer against unaligned goals. Our offset partners allows us to provide economies of scale to our clients for any size project so we can deliver on budget requirements. Also our tree planting events can be leveraged as marketing tools to engage employees, target new candidates, and directly speak to the clients your business seeks to attain. These trees will represent your investment in the local community and will not go unnoticed.

Why should I purchase carbon offsets?

Carbon offsets are a mechanism that allows for a reduction in the carbon emissions that may not otherwise be avoided or reduced. Organizations may be able to reduce much of their footprint through infrastructure efficiencies and use of solar, wind, etc., however they may still need to reduce their carbon footprint further and carbon offsets help to bridge that gap so the organizations may reach their carbon neutrality goal.

Who are your typical customers?

Urban Offsets works with like-minded organizations interested in making their sustainability impact at their local community level. In this regard, we have worked with wide-ranging industries across the country to help them reach their carbon neutrality goals.

What is a ‘Carbon Community Bundle’ and why does bundling make sense?

To allow for an organization to make a local impact to its community, we’ve developed Community Carbon Bundles which take existing third-party verified offsets and tie them to those locally-planted trees. The purchase of the offsets supports the trees and half of the proceeds from your purchase go directly to the maintenance of those trees.

Where are your tree plantings located?

Our current city plantings include New York City, Atlanta, Phoenix, Tempe, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, St Louis, and Fayetteville, with more to come.

Who will plant the trees and who will be ultimately responsible for the maintenance of the trees?

Our planting partner – and this varies from city to city. In some cases, it’s a nonprofit who focuses on tree planting and its care, and in some cases it’s the forestry division of a city. Within New York City, our partner is the New York Restoration Project.  In the case of Charlotte it’s TreesCharlotte.

What are the parameters for types of trees that can be planted?

There are no limits to the types of trees that can be planted, however we prefer the trees be native to the area where it will be planted. The trees must be at least 1” caliper or 7-gallons at time of planting. The best tree growth outcomes involve planting the right trees in the right locations, as recommended by an arborist. Trees like crape myrtles and trees with pine needles are not preferred.

Can our volunteers be involved in tree plantings?

Yes, this is encouraged! Our tree plantings are a way for business employees and university students to get more directly involved within their community.

What do the terms “Carbon Offset” and Verified Emission Reductions (“VER”) mean?

A Carbon Offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere. A “VER” is a carbon credit created by a project which has been verified outside of the Kyoto Protocol – one VER corresponds to one ton of CO2e emission reductions.

Can you help us calculate the emissions that we need to offset?

Of course, we can help you calculate your emissions. Because the nature of every business and organization is different, calculating your emissions will require further conversations and certain supporting documents.

Where does Urban Offsets purchase their offsets?

We can use any carbon offset project verified and listed on a certified registry in the U.S. For us, that’s Climate Action Reserve (CAR), VCS, American Carbon Registry (ACR), and Gold Standard. We can source these offsets from virtually anywhere in the world, and can source offsets aligned with your organization’s objectives. We have a portfolio of projects to choose from, including fleet efficiency, landfill gas destruction, composting, and forestry.

Are your offsets considered Green-e certified for LEED and LBC requirements?

For LEED and LBC, RECs and carbon offsets must be Green-e certified or the equivalent. Most RECs are Green-e certified, however, most offsets are not. We have used Climate Action Reserve (CAR) offsets as “equivalent” for companies in the past, and have received the approval that they are “equivalent.”  This link shows Green-e Endorsed programs. For LEED approval, the offsets must be shown to have been retired by the registry.

What is the Duke Carbon Offset Initiative and how do you work with them?

To meet its goal of climate neutrality by 2024, Duke University will need to offset approximately 185,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent-emissions per year. The Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative (DCOI) was created to help Duke University achieve that goal.

Urban Offsets partnered with DCOI in February of 2016 as their exclusive urban forestry carbon offset provider and to support the development of additional projects with other universities and cities. In this partnership, Urban Offsets and DCOI have developed a new carbon standard based on the U.S. Forest Service’s best science. This standard is used to create and verify local urban forestry offset projects throughout the country. The DCOI provides the research and methodology by which Urban Offsets operates with its partners.

How do you measure your tree planting’s offsets and how long does it take before the trees can produce offsets?

Our urban trees produce carbon offsets certified through the Duke University Carbon Offsets Initiative protocol previously mentioned. Every five years, the trees go through a verification process outlined in the protocol. This process ensures the tree is still alive, measures the diameter and verifies other metrics. At the end of each verification process, the number of offsets created correspond to amount of carbon the trees have sequestered from the atmosphere.

The bundled offsets, on the other hand, are all immediately retireable offsets certified through a reputable exchange, standard, or registry. Typically, that’s the Climate Action Reserve (CAR), Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), or Gold Standard.

What are the certifications for our purchases of offsets and trees? How are the trees verified and how does Peer Verification work?

A tree inventory is completed 30 days after planting. City arborists, community foresters, and supervised university forestry students take these inventories using software designed by Urban Offsets. Our team reviews each inventory to ensure that every planted tree has been accurately accounted for and planted properly.

Tree inventories are repeated annually. The data help to improve Urban Offsets’ models for tree growth and carbon storage and are including in project reports for supporters and independent verifiers. Inventories also help Planting Partners who maintain and monitor the health of the trees.

Every tree in our projects is verified by a neutral third party according to Second Nature’s Peer Validation standard. Verification begins 12 months after the first inventory, is repeated in year 5 and continues every 5 years thereafter through the life of the project. Carbon credits produced by trees from Community Carbon Projects can be granted to project funders who extend their support beyond year five.

Who would benefit from using Urban Offsets?

Any organization that is interested in making a local sustainability impact and would like to participate in advancing resilient cities should partner with us. Your organization can plant trees with any of our existing city partners, or request a new planting location.  If you have employees, candidates or prospective students to reach in a certain city or region, a community carbon project may be right for you.  We can help tailor any project to meet the specific objectives of your organization.

For Cities

Who does Urban Offsets partner with?

We partner with city municipalities or third-party urban forestry organizations that plant and maintain trees within a designated area.

A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that within a city a 10% increase in tree cover can reduce total heating and cooling energy use by 5–10%. One study done at Auburn University showed that in Alabama, 75% of residents indicated the presence of street trees influenced their choice of a new residence.

For more about this, check out our post “The Benefits of Urban Trees.”

What type of tree varieties do you support for planting?

There are no limits to the types of trees that can be planted, however we prefer the trees be native to the area where it will be planted. The trees must be at least 1” caliper or 7-gallons at time of planting.  The best tree growth outcomes involve planting the right trees in the right locations, as recommended by an arborist.  Trees like crape myrtles and trees with pine needles are not preferred.

What does a typical tree planting project look like?

The plantings with our partners vary from tree giveaways for residential plantings to community plantings in city-owned spaces. Any type of tree planting event and virtually any number of trees qualify. This includes plantings on greenways, at community gardens, and more.

Is the term “Offset” synonymous with the term Verified Emission Reduction (VER)?

Yes. 1 VER = 1 Carbon Credit = 1 Offset = 1 metric ton (or tonnes) of CO2 equivalent.

How can I partner with Urban Offsets?

Great question! Contact us at

When our city commits trees to the program, does Urban Offsets create carbon offsets from those trees and hold those offsets in inventory until a purchaser acquires them?

Local offsets, those created by the trees you plant, grow slowly over 40 years. These local offsets are kept as buffer insurance and remain unsold for the first 5 years of the tree’s life. The offsets that we sell each year are 3rd party verified offsets from the general U.S. carbon market. Ten (10) general market offsets are ‘bundled’ with every tree you plant and sold every year.

How long are those trees committed to the program if the associated offsets are NOT purchased?

Our third-party organizations and/or city municipalities must commit to managing trees for 40 years under the agreement.

What is the significance of the 5-Year Project Term vs. the 40-Year Life of Project?

Life of a Project is how long you agree to care for each tree starting the year it is planted. The Duke Carbon Offset Protocol (DCOI) stipulates trees should be cared for for 40-years each. The Project Term is the amount of time you have to plant and commit the trees to the program.

How does the 15% mortality rate factor into the agreement?

As stated in the protocol, in any given year, the mortality rate factor should be no more than 15%. This gives buyers a protection from losing access to trees that were planted through their purchase. Not only do we want more trees to survive, it is best for you because the more trees you have in the program, the more potential there is for revenue.

Do we need to provide GPS coordinates for each tree we place in the program?

Yes. You can do this using the software we provide to you. In addition we ask you to provide the tree species, GPS location and diameter at breast height (DBH) to commit these trees to the program.

Will my organization have to find buyers for my offsets?

Urban Offsets takes responsibility for the sale and marketing of your offsets.  However, we have found that the best results come from existing connections your organization has, including any leads or previous donors to your tree planting efforts.

Who will buy my offsets? What do they use them for?

Colleges, companies, and individuals who are looking to reduce or neutralize their CO2. They can either be obligated to make reductions or it is a voluntary commitment.  In either situation, we partner with organizations that are committed to their sustainability practices and mitigating the effects of climate change on our communities.

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