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Latest News

Brookgreen Gardens Is First Full Compliance Offset Project To Be Awarded ARBOCs in South Carolina:

If you’ve ever vacationed in the Myrtle Beach area, maybe you were lucky enough to venture a little further south to Brookgreen Gardens, near Pawley’s Island, SC. This world-class botanical gardens has recently been awarded the first full California Air Resources Board (ARB) offset credits in South Carolina through ARB’s Protocol for US Forest Projects. Brookgreen Gardens partnered with Green Assets, Inc., to commit to conducting natural forest management in longevity. ESI was hired as the third-party auditor to fully verify this project. We are proud to partner with ARB and Green Assets, Inc., on this full offset project verification and hope you will consider ESI’s expanding experience when you are searching for a third-party verifier on future ARB offset project work. Read more>>>

Middleton Place Project Awarded First Avoided Conversion Early Action Offset Credits:

Since the California Air Resources Board (ARB) enacted the Cap-and-Trade Regulation allowing Early Action Offset Projects (EAOPs) into the mandatory market, it has been quite a process to see these credits realized. The Middleton Place project is the first Avoided Conversion EAOP to make it through the entire Early Action process and be awarded offset credits. ESI is proud to have partnered with ARB and Green Assets, Inc., as the third-party Early Action desk reviewer on the Middleton Place project near Charleston, SC. Our experience on this EAOP continues to add to an ever-increasing portfolio with the California cap-and-trade program for both Early Action Offset Projects and full Compliance Offset Projects. Please contact us if you want to work with a firm fully experienced in this process and committed to superior solutions for our clients. Read more>>>

Along with sunny skies and ocean breezes, Summer 2014 has brought many new faces and opportunities to Environmental Services Inc. One that is very exciting is the newest Forestry, Carbon, and GHG Services Team member, John Culver. His experience with GHG emission inventories and background in corporate sustainability will enable ESI to bolster and expand its services to business and professional clients.

Since 2007, ESI has been a leader in the GHG emission, sustainability and verifications markets, both in the U.S. and abroad. This new addition will allow ESI to work more efficiently and personally on process-level and organizational-level verification projects, as well as offer a broader scope of sustainability services.  As today’s federal and business regulations are updated and new requirements are added, our team is committed to staying ahead of the curve in order to provide the highest quality product to its customers.

Our sustainability services enable ESI to help businesses of all shapes and sizes. ESI sees corporate sustainability as the primary means for making a business operate longer and more profitably. By leveraging systems thinking, corporate strategy, and energy, water, and waste management, ESI provides a service that will simultaneously lower risk, reduce costs, and engage stakeholders.

John and I look forward to working with you and helping you realize your sustainability goals.  We are excited to see old relationships grow and new ones develop. How can we help?

For additional information or to set up a meeting with our team, please contact Janice McMahon – Division Director (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 330-833-9941).

In June, 2015, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Delta Institute announced the first fertilizer nitrogen offset credits generated through ACR’s new, streamlined ALM methodology, based on reducing nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from farmland. ESI was honored to be the first V/V body to validate and verify this type of project. We look forward to seeing more projects using one of the nitrogen fertilizer reduction methodologies and protocols developed by ACR, VCS and CAR.

The verification/validation process was relatively simple, in no small part because the farmer involved in the project kept meticulous fertilization records. However, the uncomplicated nature of the methodologies themselves would make almost any nitrogen fertilizer reduction project a straightforward venture. 

To read more about the Delta Institute project, click here.

To read more about the EPRI project, click here.

By Richard Scharf

Over the last few years, the number of Agricultural Land Management (ALM) methodologies available to project developers has been increasing. The American Carbon Registry (ACR), Climate Action Reserve (CAR) and Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) have all added to agricultural project opportunities, including methodologies for reducing nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizers, reducing methane emissions from rice cultivation, introduction of sustainable ag. land management, grassland management and a modular soil carbon quantification methodology.

N2O Emissions Reductions on Agricultural Crops

Perhaps the most notable recent additions to ALM methodologies include the streamlined N2O emission reduction methodologies approved by the American Carbon Registry, Climate Action Reserve and the Verified Carbon Standard, based on a recently published study (Hoben, et al., 2011). Since the methodology authors of the ACR and VCS methodologies are the same, and the same work influenced the CAR protocol, the three share these similarities:

1. Simply reducing nitrogen fertilizer applications below business as usual rates for agricultural crops creates N2O emissions reductions without risk of reversibility.
2. In the North Central Region (or NCR, which is essentially the corn belt) of the United States, where significant research on N2O emissions from agricultural soils used to grow corn has been published, a more precise emissions factor for corn crops is used than the IPCC default factor used for other areas. This means NCR projects are credited for greater emissions reductions than similar projects outside the region.

The main differences between the methodologies can best be summarized in a table.


Important Differences Between N2O Emissions Reduction Methodologies.

The basic premise of these methodologies is that a percentage of the nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops is transformed to the GHG N2O. A simple mathematical model determines the amount of N2O emitted based on the application rate. The IPCC emissions factor of 1% is used in the ACR and VCS method on non-corn crops and corn crops grown outside the NCR, resulting in a conservative, linear model. Within the NCR on corn crops, all three methodologies use a peer-reviewed, non-linear model that results in greater emissions reductions over the IPCC default factor.

These N2O emissions reductions are irreversible, because the fertilizer applied for a harvested crop cannot be increased once the growing season is over. The reason leakage is either assumed to be zero or is likely going to be calculated at near zero is based on the value of the farmerís crop relative to the value of any offset credits generated through emission reductions.

The potential for N2O emissions reduction projects is considerable. In the United States, farmers have traditionally over-applied nitrogen fertilizers to corn crops, due to yield goal methods for determining application rates and an aversion by farmers to change a tried and true method for achieving the crop yields they expect to produce. For most corn field in the US, more likely than not, the N fertilizer application rate can be reduced below current levels while maintaining crop yield.

Those who have developed other offset projects should find the relative simplicity of the new N2O emissions reductions methodologies refreshing. Farms with the most detailed fertilizer records will be easiest to document and verify.

The previously developed ACR methodology that is available for emissions reductions by reducing N fertilizer applications depends on the DNDC model. This obviously requires a project developer to have someone adept with this model on the team. However, since the DNDC model is now used by ACRís new rice management methodology and CARís rice project protocol, more people are becoming familiar with the model.

VCS's Soil Carbon Quantification Methodology

In late 2012, VCS approved a multi-module methodology for the quantification of soil carbon and related carbon pools in ALM projects through direct measurement. With considerable experience in the direct measurement of soil carbon in AFOLU projects, ESI personnel recognize this methodology as an important source of guidance for projects and other methodologies where direct measurements of this carbon pool are necessary ñ whether for full quantification of baseline and project stocks, or to calibrate a model for the same purpose.

The methodology is applicable to ecosystem restoration projects, changes in agricultural practices, erosion reduction techniques and other project activities that are expected to affect the soil carbon pool, litter, plant biomass and other sources or sinks related to agricultural operations. The modular approach allows project developers to adapt the methodology for the type of land management being used. For example, litter and woody biomass pools may be important to projects involving grazing lands or agroforestry while inconsequential in row crop agriculture. Each is addressed in a separate module which can be used or ignored as deemed appropriate by the project developer.

Direct measurement of soil carbon stocks can be labor intensive and a number of informed decisions will have to be made by the project development team that will have a strong influence on the cost and accuracy of baseline and project monitoring measurements. It would be advisable to commence a project involving the direct measurement of soil carbon with input from a soil scientist skilled in soil mapping and the collection of soil samples, and who can properly train and supervise field crews.

Soil carbon is extremely variable across a landscape ñ especially landscapes where the soil is plowed or otherwise disturbed by earth moving equipment. A soil scientist who understands the way soil carbon content varies across the landscape will be able to stratify the project area to reduce variation. Other important parameters, including the depth samples are taken and the methods for taking them should be determined with the input of a soil scientist.

The logistics of gathering the samples necessary will have a strong influence on the profitability of a project. Since the methodology recommends that samples should be taken to the depth of 1 meter or more (unless professional opinion dictates a more appropriate depth) soils where hydraulic soil probes can easily be used will translate to lower cost sampling over soils where hydraulic probes are less successful. In the US, the Natural Resource Conservation Service or faculty at the stateís Land Grant University will be able to tell you how useful such equipment will be. Generally speaking, rocky soils will present difficulties for taking samples compared to finer textured soils.

Rice Cultivation Methodologies

ACR approved its Voluntary Emission Reductions in Rice Management Systems methodology in May of 2013. CAR approved its first Rice Cultivation Project Protocol in December of 2011, with an update in June 2013.

The methodologies use similar project activities and both depend on the DNDC model to calculate CH4 emissions from soil in the baseline and project scenarios. CH4 is the primary GHG considered in these methodologies, though the ACR methodology also credits increased energy and water use efficiency in the Mid- South growing region.

The methodologies are based on the fact that anaerobic soil organisms emit significant quantities of methane when soils are saturated with water, excluding oxygen from soil pores. Common rice cultivation techniques include the flooding of soils for long periods during the growing season to keep down competition from weed species. Reducing the amount of time during the growing season when the soils are saturated reduces the amount of CH4 emissions.

In addition to reducing the length of time the rice field soils are saturated, bailing and removing rice straw after harvest and removing rice straw after harvest removes the food for CH4 -emitting soil microorganisms, reducing emissions.

Currently, ACR's methodology can be used in the California rice growing regions and the mid-south region, which consists of the Mississippi Delta region (including Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri) and the Louisiana Gulf Coast region. CARís protocol can only be used in the California rice growing region, at present.

For project developers and verifiers alike, a crop advisor familiar with regional rice cultivation practices is a vital part of the team. Much depends on proving when soils were saturated and unsaturated, so devising strategies to do this effectively may depend on such expertise.

Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands to Crop Production

ACRís Methodology for Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands to Crop Production was released in October of 2013, and is applicable to grassland and shrubland in the U.S. and Canada that are going to be converted to annual crop production.

Most of the carbon associated with grasslands and shrublands is in the soil, the primary carbon pool of concern for this methodology. Inclusion of above and below ground biomass is optional. The concept is that when soil is disturbed for annual crop use, SOC will oxidize and release CO2 until the soil reaches a new steady state with the new land management system.

Restrictions on land use are not as severe as in the USDAís Conservation Reserve Program. Land can still be used for grazing and hay production under the applicability conditions, though additional accounting for livestock emissions and equipment emissions from hay production activities would then be required.

Changes in carbon stocks that would have occurred in the baseline scenario are determined through the use of either process models (like DNDC, DAYCENT and APEX) or empirical models from peer reviewed literature, applicable to the project area. The initial carbon stocks are estimated through direct measurement or through regional soil carbon inventories.

For direct measurement of SOC, the methodology refers to ACRís Tool for the Estimation of Carbon Stocks in Carbon Pools and Emissions from Emissions Sources. This measurement should be conducted or overseen by a soil scientist skilled in stratifying for SOC and in collecting bulk density samples in the field. Another important parameter that should be determined with the input of a soil scientist is the depth to which samples will be taken. This depends on the depths at which SOC concentrations are expected to change in the baseline scenario.

Keep in mind this methodology is for lands that would be converted in the absence of the project. Developers must show the land's highest use is annual crop production and that the land is valued at least 40% greater when use as cropland over grassland/shrubland.

Sustainable Grasslands Management

The most recently released ALM methodology is Sustainable Grassland Management, which was approved by VCS and released in April of 2014. The methodology was developed based on degraded grazing land research in China, but may be applicable to degraded grasslands expected to remain the same or continue to degrade in the absence of the project. Evapotranspiration must be greater than precipitation. See the methodology (VM0026) for the full list of applicability conditions.

Project activities include sustainable practices, like improved rotation of grazers, limiting the number of grazing animals on degraded pastures, restoration of grasslands by replanting with perennial grasses and instituting proper management over the long term.

The two primary carbon pools likely affected by project activities are SOC, likely to increase, and aboveground woody biomass, which may decrease. Some management practices, if included, will also require monitoring of other emissions sources, including N2O emissions from fertilizers and emissions from biomass burning.

Increases in SOC are estimated either through the use of peer-reviewed models validated for the region where the project area is located. Another option is to use a direct measurement approach, which must be an established method or approved standard.

As with all projects where SOC is an important carbon pool, projects developed under this methodology would benefit with the guidance of an experienced soil scientist for stratification and soil sample collection and handling procedures.

The full methodologies are available for download from the carbon registriesí websites:

ACR: Carbon Accounting ó American Carbon Registry for the Methodology For Quantifying N2O Emission Reductions from Reduced Use of N Fertilizer on Agricultural Crops, Voluntary Emission Reductions in Rice Management Systems and the Methodology for Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands to Crop Production.

CAR: for the Nitrogen Management Project Protocol and the Rice Cultivation Project Protocol.

VCS: for Quantifying N2O Emissions Reductions in Agricultural Crops through N Fertilizer Rate Reduction, Soil Carbon Quantification Methodology and the Sustainable Grasslands Management Methodology.

For additional information on Agricultural Land Management methodologies, please contact Environmental Services by subscribing to our sustainable website or emailing Richard Scharf at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

ESI is proud to announce that Dr. Guy Pinjuv has been approved by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) as an AFOLU (Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use) Methodology Expert for the Improved Forest Management (IFM) and the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project categories. With Guy's approval we now have in-house experts for IFM, REDD, and WRC (non-peat).

Congratulations, Guy on being approved by VCS as an AFOLU expert.

Are you developing, or thinking about developing, a VCS methodology? Call ESI at (330) 833-9941. ESI will work with you through the methodology assessment process. For more information about our VCS methodology assessment and project validation/verification services, please contact Janice McMahon (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Back in February, ESI sent three members of our Carbon Division to the California Air Resource Board (ARB) training for the U.S. Forest Protocol. We are proud to announce that all three members - Jonathan Pomp, Guy Pinjuv, and Matt Perkowski - passed their training exams, which now results in ESI having five (5) accredited Lead Verifiers and six (6) Project Specialists for both the U.S. Forest Protocol and Urban Forest Protocol. For more information about our ARB Compliance Offset Program services, please contact Janice McMahon (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

ESI is proud to announce that Shawn McMahon has been approved by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) as an AFOLU (Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use) Methodology Expert for the Wetlands Restoration and Conservation (WRC) project category.

At the time Shawn was approved by VCS, there were no previously existing WRC experts. Congratulations, Shawn on being one of the first WRC experts.

On 10 March 2015, ESI’s Senior Forester Jonathan Pomp delivered a guest lecture in the WVU Division of Forestry’s  Global Forest Resources Class. 

During the lecture, Jonathan informed both undergraduate and graduate forestry students how carbon markets and forest carbon offset projects are combating climate change and other forest resource issues across the globe.

ESI Senior Project Manager Approved as AFOLU Expert

ESI Senior Project Manager, Scott Sager, was approved by the Verified Carbon Standard as an AFOLU Expert for Improved Forest Management projects.

Scott is a Senior Forester/Project Manager with Environmental Services, Inc. based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is responsible for carbon emissions/sequestration projects throughout Florida, as well as having managed carbon projects across the eastern United States, Brazil, and Chile.  He’s an alumnus of the University of Florida-School of Forest Resources & Conservation (BS-’97, MS-’00).  Prior to joining ESI in 2005 he worked for the University of Florida, where he was involved in academic administration and course instruction.  He is a Certified Forester through the Society of American Foresters and a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture, and has been recognized as Young Forester of the Year and one of the “40 Under 40” in the Florida Forestry Association.

Two ESI Team Members Certified as CAR Lead Forest Carbon Verifiers

Environmental Services Inc.’s Senior Project Managers Shawn McMahon and Scott Sager were recently certified as lead verifiers for Forest and Urban Forest Carbon Sequestration Projects by the Climate Action Reserve. To receive the certification, Sager and McMahon completed the Forest and Urban Forest Project Verifier Training Program.

ESI Meets Climate Action Reserve - Reserve Training Requirements

March 10, 2010

Environmental Services, Inc. received additional accreditation from Climate Action Reserve allowing ESI to perform verifications under CAR’s forest and urban forest project protocols. This certification comes on the heels of ESI’s recent accreditation by ANSI under ISO 14065:2007.

“Accreditation plays a vital role in ensuring the competence and quality of the verification bodies operating in the carbon market. It establishes trust and impartiality and harmonizes the rigorous criteria that govern the GHG verification industry. We are very excited to welcome ESI into this arena and look forward to having it work in the forestry sector of our program,” said Sarah Stanner-Cranston, Program Director for the Climate Action Reserve.

Janice McMahon receives GHG Inventory Quantifier Certification from CSA Standards

ESI is pleased to announce that Janice McMahon has become a Certified Greenhouse Gas Inventory Quantifier through CSA Standards. As a member of the first graduating class of certified quantifiers, Ms. McMahon remains at the forefront of the rapidly changing greenhouse gas validation and verification industry.

Certification helps graduates demonstrate their ability to apply the knowledge and skills required to develop and manage a GHG Inventory and bring an added level of confidence to the industry. The new certification program is designed to provide professional credentials to leaders in the emerging carbon management market.

Environmental Services, Inc. Receives ANSI Accreditation Under ISO 14065:2007

March 10, 2010: Environmental Services, Inc. (ESI) is pleased to announce its receipt of accreditation from American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under ISO 14065:2007 for greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies.  The scope of accreditation includes ISO 14065:2007, ISO 14064-3:2006, and verification/validation of assertions related to greenhouse gas emission reductions and removals at the project level for Land Use and Forestry (Group 3).

ESI is now a California Air Resource Board Accredited Offset Verification Body of Offset Project Data Reports. ESI has multiple ARB-approved Lead Verifiers for  both the U.S. Forest Protocol and Urban Forest Protocol that are currently working on ARB Early Action Desktop Reviews as well as full project verifications.

For additional information about our ARB services or to request a proposal, please contact Janice McMahon (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

ESI recently sent three additional staff members to the California Air Resource Board (ARB) training for the U.S. Forest Protocol held on February 24-28.  The successful completion of this training will double ESI's capacity to conduct ARB - U.S. Forest Protocol Verification and will result in ESI having five (5) accredited Lead Verifiers and six (6) Project Specialist for both the U.S. Forest Protocol and Urban Forest Protocol.  For more information about our ARB Compliance Offset Program services, please contact Janice McMahon (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Navigating the American Carbon World Conference

March 26-27, 2014

San Francisco


Join ESI's Janice McMahon and Stewart McMorrow in San Francisco for Navigating the American Carbon World's 2014 conference. NACW offers an unparalleled program that provides the most current, comprehensive update on pressing climate policy and carbon issues. Janice and Stewart would love for you to stop by ESI's booth!