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Another Approach to Consumer Carbon Offsets: DriveNeutral

DriveNeutral, created in 2005 as a student project to educate the public around the imminent problems of global climate change, has launched an online campaign to promote carbon offsets for individual drivers.

Like TerraPass (earlier post), DriveNeutral allows consumers to buy a certification decal, the funds from which are used to purchase and retire carbon emissions credits.

Both organizations offer online CO2 emissions calculators (TerraPass by the model, DriveNeutral by the class), but DriveNeutral allows one to factor in the type of fuel: gasoline, diesel, biodiesel or CNG.

DriveNeutral purchases credits exclusively through the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). The carbon credits on the CCX come primarily from US industrial companies such as Dupont, IBM and Dow Corning. As a requirement of their membership, companies must reduce emissions by 6% below a baseline of their 1998-2001 average annual emissions. If they reduce more emissions than are required, they can translate these additional reductions into credits and sell them to other CCX members who have not achieved their reduction target.

DriveNeutral is a non-profit enterprise of the San Francisco-based Presidio School of Management, which offers an MBA in Sustainable Management. The first college in California to join the CCX, Presidio has pledged to offset 100% of its greenhouse gas emissions each year from electricity use, travel and fuel consumption.

DriveNeutral will remain an enterprise of the school, and be integrated into the Presidio curriculum.

We aim to grow our enterprise as a vehicle of education on how to take action on climate change in addition to merely offsetting one’s CO2 footprint through emissions reduction credits.

We’d like to be a source of knowledge and empowerment for those who wish to take even stronger action, such as increasing their use of public transportation or bike-riding around the city. There are also energy-efficiency issues to consider. We are preparing this expansion over the course of this summer.

—Jason Smith, Chief Environmental Officer, DriveNeutral


fyi CO2



There is a third CO2 offset company.

The nice thing about CarbonFund is you can offset your air travel, electricity, natural gas and heating oil use in addition to gasoline. For me, air travel comes to 43% of my total emmissions!

I wonder why DriveNeutal offsets biodiesel seperate from diesel, but not ethanol seperate from gasoline.


I tested DriveNeutral's calculator and noticed they are assuming 19.4lb of CO2 produced per gallon of gasoline burned. CarbonFund assumes 17.74lbCO2/gal. DriveNeutral must include more of the well to tank emissions.

CarbonFund allows you to offset indirect emissions - the ones from manufacting and transporting that T-shirt you bought in Wal-Mart and was made in China. Those well to gas-tank emissions would be another example of indirect emissions.

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