Off Campus Travel > Offsetting Travel

Your athletics department and institution may want to consider reducing the net carbon emissions associated with its transportation needs by purchasing carbon offsets. When your sports department buys a carbon offset, it is investing in a project – such as new renewable energy projects – that will yield a measurable reduction in future greenhouse gas emissions.

You may also wish to suggest similar programs to the bus, truck, car, and rental companies with which you do business.

However, carbon offsets should not be the first option when attempting to improve the environmental profile of your transportation. Before purchasing offsets, consider implementing other initiatives to promote environmentally superior forms of transportation such as walking, bicycling, public transportation, carpools, and the use of high fuel-efficiency vehicles.

Green-e and the California Climate Action Registry have certification programs to ensure the environmental quality of carbon offsets. We recommend offsets that meet the Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy and any of the Climate Action Reserve protocols. However, it is still useful to ask providers what type of projects they invest in, how they ensure that these investments deliver additional environmental benefits, and whether the projects have negative environmental impacts.

Identify and contact any staff on your campus who might help identify opportunities for promoting offsetting travel associated with your major games and events. The departments with knowledgeable staff may include the Transportation, Facilities, and the Sustainability Office, among others.

Calculate your carbon emissions.


Greenhouse gas offsets are investments in projects that avoid, capture or sequester emissions of greenhouse gases. When your sports department buys an offset, it is investing in a new project that will cause a quantifiable decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of such projects include renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind power, and the capture of methane at agricultural facilities.


Promoting environmentally sensitive transportation throughout athletics and recreation can help your institution earn up to 7 points within the “Transportation” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.


It might not be possible to bike to work or ride public transportation every day. And while hybrid cars are more fuel efficient than the average car, they still run partially on gasoline and therefore emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So even if your sports departments and institution implement the transportation changes suggested in this section, you will likely continue to have a sizable carbon footprint associated with fan and staff transportation. When you buy offsets, you reduce your net emissions of greenhouse gases, helping to reduce your contribution to the harmful effects of global warming.


NRDC: Transportation
AASHE: Resources on Sustainable Campus Transportation
The University of Vermont: Certification for Sustainability Transportation
EPA’s Carbon Calculator
Clean Air, Cool Planet: Consumer’s Guide to Retail Carbon Offset Providers