Help understanding and measuring carbon offsets

I run the trade association for the cellulose insulation industry and we are discussing the idea of carbon offsets. However we would likely need to have someone verify the amount of carbon we are sequestering and provide a report before we seek companies looking to purchase the offsets.

Our association is composed of 17 manufacturers and a total of 33 plants across North America. We have a figure for total tons of cellulose insulation manufactured in 2022 (85% of which is post-consumer recycled product). We’re at the starting block and seeking more information about the ease/difficulty in verifying this data, along with what the potential offset could possibly be.

Does anyone have experience with this? I’m trying to determine our eligibility for carbon offsets and, if so, which methodology is most appropriate.


Hi Rachel, this is a bit outside of my area of expertise (I work on in architecture on whole building LCAs), but if no one else responds, here are a few threads to pull -

You might want to reach out to the folks at OneClick LCA. They have tools for industries to create EPDs and do GHG reporting.

If it doesn’t already exist, you all should look into producing an industry-wide EPD (or hopefully, product specific, or even better, plant specific). This will give you an idea of the carbon per volume of product you’re producing. It also helps us on the WBLCA side select among products, so there’s benefits to more specific epds. I know in the architectural industry, we’re seeing more and more preference given to manufacturers who have transparency data like this.

As far as offsets… That’s a difficult subject. All offsets are not created equal, and no offsets are perfect. We lean towards the offsets offered by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (Carbon Offsets – BEF | Sustainability Products and Services), but these should only be used after you’ve done all you can to make reductions up front. The short reasoning for why these should be last resort is that offsets are often not time aligned (carbon emitted may warming the atmosphere for years before it’s re-absorbed through offset projects) and are often reversible (wild fires burning reforestation projects for example). There’s a LOT more on this subject. If you want a primer, we’ve written one here: 08 – Carbon Offsets, Sequestration + Honesty - LMN Architects