How to Make Your Car Eco-Friendly


Until recently, reducing your individual impact on the environment has often been an imprecise task at best.

You could use low-energy light bulbs and make sure that your houselights were off before you left. You could carpool or take the bus to work. You could recycle.

Another option would be to do something more substantive, like forking over extra cash for a hybrid vehicle, or spending $50,000 to install electricity-generating solar panels on your roof. Unfortunately, the size of these investments tend to prohibit all but a lucky few individuals from utilizing these options.

But there is something else that can be done in order to make a difference -- use tools that accurately measure and then provide a chance to counteract the impact of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

One such tool is, a Web site that allows users to calculate an approximate value of carbon emissions that they produce from driving a car, traveling by plane or hosting an event. The site then lets users make a payment to offset those emissions. The money goes to pay for one of a number of carbon-reducing projects that has agreed to help fund.

Carbon-offset programs have also recently been adopted by travel sites Travelocity and Expedia(EXPE).

Since kicking off its operations in 2006, DrivingGreen says it has offset more than 27.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide. By taking part, a consumer can reduce the net impact of driving a car or taking a flight to zero emissions.

For instance, according to DrivingGreen, a 1999 Chrysler Sebring driven 18,000 miles a year produces 15,400 pounds of greenhouse gases annually. To "undo" those emissions would cost $56.

Because carbon-offset programs are voluntary in the U.S., participants in programs like DrivingGreen tend to do so because they are personally committed to reducing their emissions footprint or because of the public relations benefits that such participation might bring, according to Dan Linsky, program director for

All of the emissions-reduction projects that DrivingGreen is now working on involve capturing methane from animal waste. A list of the current projects can be found on DrivingGreen's Web site.

The amount of emissions contained by the various projects is verified by an independent third party, SES Inc.. The verifier visits the projects and confirms that the amount of methane being captured at the facilities is being correctly reported.

Each pound of methane that's kept out of the atmosphere is equal to cutting out 21 pounds of carbon dioxide, DrivingGreen says.

DrivingGreen will soon offer a broader range of eco-friendly projects that users will be able to choose from, Linsky says.

The company recently offset the entire operations of a major conference on carbon markets and trading in New York. The conference was sponsored by Point Carbon, a international consultancy for energy and carbon markets. After accounting for the number of attendees at the conference, the distance traveled by those attendees, and the number of hotel rooms required to house the attendees, DrivingGreen calculated that the event produced close to 522 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

The cost to offset this carbon was just over $4,100.

DrivingGreen is a for-profit company. When a carbon offset is made, 70% of the funds are sent to help fund the methane-capture project, while 30% is retained by DrivingGreen. The company is a subsidiary of AgCert, a global developer for carbon-offset projects, whose shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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