REQUIREMENTS AND SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE QUANTIFICATION, MONITORING, REPORTING, VERIFICATION, AND REGISTRATION OF PROJECT-BASED GHG EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS AND REMOVALS.
The Green Climate Initiative has been the leading green computing accreditation and certification organization that certifies and endorses organizations and professionals in Green technologies since 2008. GCI certifications is the standard of excellence that the industry seeks in order to ensure efficient and effective sustainable practices.
THE ECOBALANCE STANDARD
The EcoBalance Standard details GCI’s minimum requirements and qualifications for the quantification, monitoring, and reporting of project based GHG emissions reductions and removals, verification, project registration, and issuance of carbon credits. The Standard institutes the quality level that every green computing project are required to meet in order for GCI to register its GHG emissions reductions and removals as tradable environmental assets.
GCI aims to provide flexibility and usability to Project Developers while maintaining the environmental veracity and scientific consistency necessary to ensure that projects developed against its standards and methodologies are recognized as being of the highest quality, whether used for voluntary, pre-compliance or compliance purposes.
Adherence to the EcoBalance Standard and associated methodologies will ensure that project-based offsets represent emissions reductions and removals that are real, measurable, permanent, in excess of regulatory requirements and common practice, additional to business-as-usual, net of leakage, verified by a competent independent third party, and used only once.
The EcoBalance program is erected on values of accountability, transparency, responsiveness, and hands-on processes. EcoBalance benefits from the backing and supervision of GCI, an established, trustworthy organization. that has been operating since 2008. GCI Management and the Governance Board provide direct oversight of all EcoBalance operations.
Project Developers desiring to develop a project for registration on EcoBalance shall follow this standard and must apply an EcoBalance approved methodology (as outlined below). This standard v1.8 supersedes standard v1.7 (May 2015). Any project listed subsequent to January 1, 2021, must follow all requirements of and be validated against the this standard v1.8. New projects listed prior to January 1, 2021, may be validated according to a previous version of the standard, as applicable at the time of listing. Project proponents and other interested parties should refer to cc.greenci.org for the latest version of the standard, methodologies, tools, document templates, and other guidance.
EcoBalance objectives are to:
- Kick start action to manage GHG emissions;
- Make available guidance, transparent infrastructure, and science-based quality reductions in GHG emissions;
- Implement best practices in project-level GHG accounting;
- Innovate new methodologies;
- Promote all-inclusive adoption of practices that lessen climate change with clear community, economic, and environmental benefits;
- Enhance public confidence in market-based action for GHG reduction;
- Support merging of carbon markets.
EcoBalance accepts projects from worldwide locations, provided they conform to an EcoBalance approved methodology. Certain sectors and methodologies prescribe a narrower geographic scope (e.g.,Middle East only).
EcoBalance registers emission reductions and/or removal enhancements of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide , hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, nitrogen trifluoride, and black carbon. EcoBalance scope also includes destruction of ozone-depleting substances listed in annexes a, b, c, and e of the Montreal Protocol. December 2020.
SCOPE: PROJECT TYPES
EcoBalance accepts all projects validated and verified against a EcoBalance approved methodology, provided they comply with the current version of the EcoBalance standard. These include:
- Avoided nature loss (including deforestation);
- Nature-based sequestration, such as reforestation;
- Avoidance or reduction of emissions such as CO2 or Methane;
- Technology-based removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
These types of projects are accepted as long as they meet all the following requirements:
- The project displaces direct emissions by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels at a facility that the Project Developer owns or controls, or for which the Facility Owner has assigned the Project Developer clear and uncontested offsets title;
- The project meets additionality and other requirements of the EcoBalance standard;
- The GHG reductions have not been used to meet a regulatory compliance obligation under a binding limit;
- Under jurisdictional regulations, the project does not take place at a regulated source;
- The project has not been counted toward a mandatory renewable energy obligation (such as a renewable portfolio standard) obligation or claimed any other voluntary renewable energy incentive (such as renewable energy credits).
UNIT OF MEASURE
Project Developers shall tabulate, quantify, and report all GHG reductions and removal enhancements in metric tons, converting each metric ton to its CO2 equivalent (CO2e). GHG reductions and removal enhancements with a vintage year of 2021 or later shall use conversion calculations based on the 100-year global warming potential factors listed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fifth assessment report (AR5), working group 1, chapter 8, table 8.7 for CH4 and N204 and table 8.SM.16 for HFCS, PFCS, SF6, NF3, and all ODS. GHG reductions and removal enhancements with a vintage year of 2020 or earlier will maintain the original application of GWP factors from an earlier IPCC assessment report referenced in previous, relevant versions of the EcoBalance standard.
UNIT OF EXCHANGE
The EcoBalance unit of exchange is a verified emissions reduction, serialized and registered as a Carbon Offset Ton (COT), denominated in metric tons of CO2e. COTs, also known as offsets, carbon offsets, carbon credits and carbon offset credits, include emission reductions and removal enhancements.
CARBON ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES
EcoBalance affirms a set of guiding principles, based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14064 Part 2 (2006) specifications from which all other EcoBalance principles and eligibility criteria follow, as summarized below:
- Relevance – choose the GHG sources, GHG sinks, GHG reservoirs, data, and methodologies suitable to the requirements of the intended user.
- Completeness – take account of all relevant GHG emissions and removals. Include all pertinent information to support criteria and procedures.
- Consistency – allow meaningful comparisons in GHG related information. Use consistent methodologies for meaningful comparisons of emissions over time. Transparently document any changes to the data, boundary, methods, or any other relevant factors.
- Accuracy – eliminate bias and uncertainties as far as is practical.
- Transparency – reveal sufficient and appropriate GHG related information to allow intended users to make decisions with realistic confidence. Disclose any relevant assumptions and make suitable references to the accounting and calculation methodologies and data sources used.
- Conservative – use conservative assumptions, values, and procedures to ensure that GHG emission reductions or removal enhancements are not overestimated.
Where required to estimate GHG emission reductions or removal enhancements in the project or baseline scenario, the methodology shall specify GHG emissions or removal factors that:
- Taken from a scientific peer-reviewed origin;
- Are suitable for the GHG source or sink concerned; and
- Take into consideration the quantification uncertainty.
PROJECT ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
The following are the eligibility criteria for all projects, defines each criterion, and articulates EcoBalance requirements. Project Developers shall address, in their GHG Project Plan, each of the criteria below along with the project type-specific requirements.
Start Date: Projects must be validated 3 years of the Project Start Date.
Minimum Project Term: Project types with no risk of reversal after crediting have no required Minimum Project Term. Projects with a risk of reversal will have a Minimum Project Term of 10 years.
Crediting Period: The crediting period for Projects shall be 2 years. The start date and the start of the first crediting period are generally the same, unless otherwise allowable in the relevant methodology.
Real: GHG reductions and/or removals shall result from an emission mitigation activity that has been conducted in accordance with an approved EcoBalance Methodology and is verifiable.
Emission or Removal Origin: The project proponent shall own, have control over, or document that effective control exists over the GHG sources and/or sinks from which the emissions reductions or removals originate.
Offset Title: The project proponent shall provide documentation and attestation of undisputed title to all offsets prior to registration.
Additional: Every project shall use a EcoBalance approved audit and pass a three-pronged test of additionality in which the project must: 1. Exceed regulatory/legal requirements; 2. Go beyond common practice; and 3. Overcome at least one of three implementation barriers: institutional, financial, or technical.
Regulatory Compliance: Adherence to all laws, regulations, and other legally binding mandates directly related to project activities.
Permanent: Permanence refers to the longevity of removal enhancements and the risk of reversal. A detailed risk assessment must be conducted as part of the audit process.
Net of Leakage: Requirement for Project Developers to address, account for, and mitigate certain types of leakage, according to the relevant sector requirements and methodology conditions. Project proponents must deduct leakage that reduces the GHG emissions reduction and reveal this data voluntarily during a surveillance audit.
Independently Validated: Requirement of third-party validation of the GHG project plan by an accredited, certified EcoBalance Auditor once during each crediting period and prior to issuance of COTs.
Independently Verified: Requirement of third-party verification of the GHG project plan by an accredited, certified EcoBalance Auditor once during each crediting period.
Environmental and Community Assessments: Requirement that all projects develop and disclose an impact assessment to ensure compliance with environmental and community safeguards best practices.
ECOBALANCE APPROVED METHODOLOGY
The Certified Green Computing Facility Certification by GCI is used as the primary methodology in implementing the EcoBalance standard.