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Green Power and Carbon Offsets BDC v4 Tip Sheet

Determining What You Need to Buy

To meet the credit requirements your team must commit to purchasing RECs, green power, or carbon offsets equal to 50% (1 point) or 100% (2 points) of the building’s annual energy consumption. Keep the following tips in mind when executing this credit:

  • RECs and green power can only be used to mitigate the effects from Scope 2 emissions (electricity use). However, carbon offsets may be used to mitigate the effects from Scope 1 or Scope 2 emissions. Scope 1 emissions include those resulting from natural gas, steam, district hot or chilled water, and other fuels consumed on site.
  • Pricing of RECs, green power, and carbon offsets change over time with the market and so it’s always beneficial to look at the cost of carbon offsets and RECs/green power to find the most cost effective solution for your project.
  • RECs and green power must be Green-e Energy certified and carbon offsets must be Green-e Climate certified. Check to make sure your provider can provide verification that your purchase meets these requirements. Be careful sourcing utility provided green power as not all utility programs meet the Green-e Energy certification.
  • The credit requires that the project commits to purchasing RECs/green power and / or carbon offsets for a period of 5 years.
  • For Core & Shell projects, if the core and shell floor area is less than 15% of the gross floor area, use 15% of the total building area for the calculations. If not, use the actual percentage of core and shell floor area to determine the amount of energy consumption.


Per the Rating System language and Reference Guide, the credit calculations are based on annual energy consumption. But what isn’t clearly indicated in the reference materials is that the % threshold met by the project is based on the mitigated emissions resulting from the REC/green power and carbon offsets purchased. See the example below, which can be confirmed via the LEED credit form available in the LEED Credit Library at www.USGBC.org.

LEEDuser expert

Marcus Sheffer

7group / Energy Opportunities
LEED Fellow

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