Case Studies 7 Jan 2020

Here's the Rest of the Story on Looker's Real-Time Offsetting

Check out the fascinating details of how Looker used its new Looker 7 data platform and Cloverly to offset the carbon footprint of attendees’ travel to and from Looker’s JOIN conference in November—“a demo on measuring environmental impact with data that was both fun and good.”

That quote is from a blog post about the feat by Daniel Mintz, the company’s chief data evangelist. During the keynote presentation, Looker got more than 750 attendees to fill out a quick esurvey about how they’d traveled there and where they’d started.

Looker analyzed the results onstage, used Cloverly to offset, and sent everyone a personalized message about how much carbon Looker had greened for that attendee’s journey.

“We built a little JavaScript application to let you select how much of your carbon footprint you wanted to offset and then got an estimated price via Cloverly, which provides a simple API for purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs),” Daniel wrote in his post.

“Once we had the estimate from Cloverly, which helpfully tells you not just cost, but also where the RECs you’re purchasing will come from, we approved the purchase and executed it via the API.”

It all took less than 10 minutes. Very cool. You can see the whole thing on video at Daniel’s post. (Notice, by the way, how affordable offsetting can be.)

One note: Daniel wrote that Looker bought RECs instead of carbon offsets because “the ‘Sustainability as a Service’ API from Cloverly we used currently only sells RECs, not carbon offsets.” That’s not quite the whole story.

Cloverly does in fact include both offsets and RECs in our portfolio. However, we had a huge jump in sales during November, and we simply maxed out most of our offsets, as well as most of our RECs.

We had been holding off on restocking our portfolio in order to fully sell our older assets. The newer the offset or REC, the better, because that encourages the development of new green projects. With our older stock cleared out, we’ve already begun acquiring new offsets.

It’s easy to get confused about offsets, RECs, and how they work. Here’s a quick explanation:

  • Offsets: A carbon offset certificate represents the reduction of 1 metric ton, or 2,205 pounds, of carbon dioxide emissions. The emissions may be reduced through capturing and destroying a greenhouse gas, producing energy using a clean and renewable resource, or capturing and storing (sequestering) greenhouse gases to keep them out of the atmosphere. Buying offsets helps fund projects that do those things.
  • Renewable Energy Credits (also called Renewable Energy Certificates; the European equivalents are Guarantees of Origin, or GOs): Each REC certifies that 1,000 kilowatt-hours (1 megawatt-hour) of electricity has been generated by renewable means and delivered to the electric grid. RECs represent the rights to all of the environmental benefits of generating energy by clean, renewable means. Again, buying RECs helps fund solar and wind farms and other renewable-energy projects.

For more, see our How It Works page. Thanks again to Looker. LOVED the demo. Glad we could help.

Cloverly Team