Climate Plus Program: Green Building Projects Made Easy with Eco-Friendly Construction Offsets

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

May 22, 2024

According to numerous studies, the construction industry generates over 39 percent of global energy related emissionsover one-third of the world’s greenhouse gases!

But the carbon emissions that have been measured… don’t include the overall ecological cost that remodeling and new commercial and residential construction have on the planet. These combined activities do more than simply use energy, construction impacts the environmental landscape itself.

Unfortunately, current green building certifications are costly and, many experts argue, completely unrealistic in their design.

That’s why 8 Billion Trees has established the “Climate Plus Program” for construction projects and existing buildings. It delivers real results for offsetting the ecological footprint produced by new buildings and remodeling projects… in a way that is easier to use and more effective in combating the impact of construction than conventional green building certifications, because it’s more than a climate or carbon mitigation plan.

It pays the ecological debt to the planet by performing habitat and community restoration.

Climate Plus Green Building Program

With Climate Plus, builders and anyone can ensure that their upcoming project is completely carbon net zero… and the beauty of it is that even existing structures can have their carbon emissions erased.

Climate Plus creates a net positive environmental impact associated with each building project. 

Walking stick in the Brazilian rainforest.
8 Billion Trees team members work the soil in a nursery for seedlings.
Family in Brazil walking to plant trees nearby.
Tocantins Wildlife Center howler money.
Tocantins Wildlife Center jaguar.
Giant sequoia trees in California.
Close up of Sequoia tree mossy bark growth.
Redwood trees in California.
Mosit forest inthe Great Smoky Moutains National Park.
Planting native trees in Kenya.
Reforestation in Kenya, carried out by 8 Billion Trees team member.

How Does Climate Plus Erase Construction Ecological Footprint and Create a Green Building Project?

In any new construction project, or even a remodeling one, there’s both a carbon footprint and an ecological footprint. The energy used is one factor, but the resources consumed and the area of land also play a large role in the environmental cost of the project, creating a debt to the planet.

We achieve a net positive environmental result by being the first green building program to use the Ecological Footprint model created by Mathis Wackernagel, sustainability advocate and President of the Global Footprint Network.

The Ecological Footprint concept is simple:

  • Understand the negative impacts, including pollution, consuming ecological goods and services (lumber harvesting, concrete manufacturing, energy use, and more) of construction.
  • Account for these impacts by tree planting for carbon offsetting and repaying the ecological debt

To make the program easy to use by anyone, the construction carbon footprint calculator above figures the footprint debt to the construction project using a cost per square foot, which is applied to our tree planting and habitat restoration programs.

This establishes positive environmental benefits… forever! 

CLimate Plus membership badge atop scene from forests in Tennessee.

Construction’s Carbon Footprint—Operational and Embodied Carbon

Each new construction project generates both operation and embodied carbon emissions. Operational carbon refers to the energy consumed to keep the building operating, including climate controls, electricity, and other energy related needs. These costs to the planet can be reduced through green energy options and through basic conservation, but the fact remains that every new building will create carbon emissions where there weren’t any before.

Embodied carbon refers to the building’s lifespan, including emissions that begin when the site is prepared and materials are removed (transported), and continue through the construction phase and afterward (like refurbishments) and finally adding any demolition and disposal.

Construction Ecological Footprint—Why Green Building Materials Aren’t Used for Sustainable Construction

In addition to the carbon emissions, there’s an ecological footprint for all construction projects. The natural resources and materials harvested for use contribute to the ecological cost, which is a measurement of how much humans consume that can’t be replaced or regenerated by the planet.

The Earth has a limited, renewable ‘supply’ of resources, or “biocapacity,” and consuming those resources has a price. But, because many green building materials cost more than their counterparts, their use is not widespread.

The sad truth is that these ecological costs can only be slightly impacted by using current green building and eco-friendly construction practices.

Something more is needed to eliminate these emissions from the environment. Enter Climate Plus Construction Offsets.

What’s Wrong with Using Current Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Building Certifications?

The building certification and rating process framework developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and it is designed to increase awareness about the ecological impact of building among contractors and architects, as well as encourage the use of green technologies and sustainable materials in new and refurbishment projects.

That’s great!

But, there’s a huge problem. These plans were not developed by the actual builders and designers who do the work, nor was the framework organized around actual metrics involving ecological health. So, the certification is impractical for almost every project, due to the complexity and measurement standards that ignore key factors.

For example, one LEED Platinum building in a suburb generated a huge carbon footprint (lots of concrete and steel and glass were used) and it’s not transit oriented, so residents must drive to get there. Yet, it’s still recognized by the USGBC as ‘exemplary.’

This is essentially greenwashing because the project’s very existence is highly detrimental to the environment.

Likewise, there’s no way to erase the footprint from buildings that were constructed years ago.

Although USGBC is streamlining efforts to certify green construction, there’s no time to waste. Real action is needed now by everyone.

How Does Climate Plus Program Work for the Planet and for Users?

8 Billion Trees’ Climate Plus Program has eliminated the bottlenecks and problems associated with the current LEED framework. It cuts out all the hoops to jump through in order to make any project (even older existing structures) green, right now.

And, it provides continuing benefits for Earth!

By calculating the carbon footprint of a construction project or a construction business, company owners and individuals are able to remove the carbon emissions equivalents association with the operation.

We use afforestation and reforestation projects to erase ecological debt.

 Make a Bigger Difference

In fact, this plan makes it possible to do even more for the planet than simply building a ‘green construction project,’ because the impacts are long lasting, in both habitat restoration and the cultural and economic (local jobs) benefits that exist through reforestation strategies.

Carbon Neutrality

With Climate Plus, any construction project can be completely carbon neutral. It’s a re-pay and reinvestment strategy in Earth, using the materials that were harvested… Trees! The building carbon footprint or firm’s yearly fee is paid, but the benefits continue because the trees remain protected and growing!

Who Can Enroll? How Much Does It Cost?

Anyone can enroll! That’s the beauty of this program. Whether it’s a large architect or design firm, the city council, or anyone who wants to help the planet. You don’t even have to own the building or structure to pay for its ecological cost and work to eliminate greenhouse gases.

The one-time cost erases the footprint of a new building (or project), because once the trees are planted, they continue to benefit the environment for ever. For construction businesses, their yearly footprint is calculated, demonstrating a holistic approach to lowering carbon emissions from every project they’re involved in producing.

Compared to current building certifications, these fees are relatively inexpensive. Moreover, we make it easy for anyone to enroll any building! The money is allocated directly to dept repayment and not to expensive consultants, required for the conventional programs.

How to Enroll

Use the Construction Carbon Footprint Calculator above to offset the environmental cost of any project.

Follow the link to erase the emissions and start helping the planet rebuild.

Or, construction businesses can use the business carbon footprint calculator here to figure their annual footprint.

Business Carbon Footprint Calculator

In addition to these options, you can get a personalized ecological footprint estimate by using the form below to contact our emissions calculation team.

Once the project or structure’s emissions are calculated, we’ll send you a link to complete the one time purchase, or a monthly subscription and the fees go to work directly and immediately pay back the earth for what is borrowed, including emission impacts.

Contact Us Now to Get Started Erasing Building Emissions

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Sustainable Construction with Climate Plus Green Building Certifications: How Construction Carbon Offset Programs Work

In order to help renew the planet’s biocapacity and eliminate the carbon cost of construction, offsets offer real carbon removal solutions.

 Action Can Be Taken Now

With a carbon offset program, the energy ‘footprint’ of the construction job, the materials and their processing and transport, and even the eventual maintenance of the structure can be eliminated! This is an environmental solution that can be applied before, during, or after the project is completed.

 Builders, Homeowners, Architects… Anyone Can Do It

Another benefit of carbon offsets is that they can be employed by anyone involved in the project, from the architect to the homeowner. The program enrollment for a project counts toward the building itself, regardless who orders it.

 Offset the Carbon Generated by Buildings Already Constructed

One of the best things about the Climate Plus Program, is that it allows home and property owners to offset the carbon that was generated by any structure, regardless of its age. By answering a few simple questions about the structure, the offset plan makes it ‘retroactively green,’ so you can help the planet erase greenhouse gas emissions from decades ago!

 Tree Planting Delivers Actionable Results

Forestry projects used to create carbon offsets deliver effective solutions because the trees keep on sequestering carbon emissions their entire lives.

Although the emissions and ecological footprint of construction projects seems overwhelming, there are long-term and immediate solutions for the planet. Using carbon offsets to eliminate the greenhouse gases generated by any new or remodeling project, makes it a “green building project” that is working to restore the environment for decades after the enrollment.

Business Membership Benefits

Construction businesses receive:

  • An easy method for builders and other professionals to provide their clients with a measurable way to reduce emissions.
  • Framed notice of participation in the program.
  • Scheduled up-to-date resources and statistics about your building (or firm’s) positive ecological impact, including the amount of CO2 sequestered, as well as other updates on the rainforest reforestation where your trees are planted, habitat restoration and wildlife rehabilitation.

Plus new benefits are being added all the time!

A hand holding earth with different types of carbon offsets (solar, forestry, and wind) on the surface of earth with buildings mixed in.