Strategic Offsets

Columbia will utilize strategic offsets in accordance with the carbon hierarchy.

In partnership with faculty, students, and administrators, Columbia has developed a set of criteria to guide the University’s future purchase of carbon offsets to neutralize emissions that cannot be reduced and eliminated. Using the campus as a living lab, one of the Earth Institute's capstone courses examined this as part of their coursework.  

The below offset standards serve as guidance for choosing offset projects that:

  1. Are high-quality offsets, and
  2. Align with Columbia’s sustainability mission and environmental justice principles​​​​​

The offsets must:

  • Have been vetted and verified by a third-party entity
  • Be proven to result in no negative externalities
  • Result in the permanent, quantified and veritable sequestration of carbon with no leakage
  • Result in additional carbon reduction or sequestering
  • Align with local environmental justice principles

Ideally, the offsets should:

  • Be local, in and around the New York area
    • Local projects are desirable because they provide co-benefits to Columbia’s immediate surroundings and community. However, international projects can provide co-benefits such as clean water and air to the most vulnerable communities worldwide. A combination of local and international projects may thus be explored with recognition that monitoring to ensure no adverse environmental or cultural impacts is especially important and challenging.
  • Offer some social, environmental, and economic co-benefits to the local community