Author: 3Degrees Staff

At 3Degrees, we make it possible for businesses and their customers to take urgent action on climate change— providing renewable energy and carbon offset solutions to Fortune 500 companies, utilities, universities, green building firms and other organizations that are working to make their operations more sustainable. And as a certified B Corporation and eight-time winner of the EPA Green Power Supplier of the Year award, we’re primed to deliver custom clean power solutions that will help each organization make an environmental impact. Founded in 2007, 3Degrees is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with offices across the United States.

I-REC: A renewable energy option in international markets

china at night

In 2015, the World Resources Institute (WRI) unveiled new guidance for Scope 2 emissions accounting within the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. This update introduced a market-based accounting mechanism that gives companies the opportunity to reduce their Scope 2 emissions through the purchase of renewable energy certificates, PPAs, and other contractual instruments. This provision has driven a new focus on global energy purchasing, with more organizations looking for options across the globe.

Product Profile

The I-REC, an international renewable energy certificate, represents proof that one MWh of electricity was produced from renewable energy sources and added to the grid. It embodies all of the environmental attributes of renewable generation.  The source can be wind, solar, ocean energy, biomass, hydropower, landfill gas, aerothermal, geothermal and landfill gas. 3Degrees only transacts in I-RECs issued in countries authorized by the 2016 International REC Standard and traded on the I-REC international registry. This standard establishes rules and regulations for a transparent system that simplifies claims and eliminates double counting issues, making products compliant with Scope 2 reporting guidelines.

IRECs chart

Regulatory Considerations

In some cases, I-REC has country specific restrictions on technology or other criteria. In addition, individual countries many have their own specific regulations and protocols above and beyond the I-REC standards.

IRECs map

IRECs map in 2017

For more information on renewable energy options across the globe, contact us.

Guarantees of Origin: An option for renewable energy in Europe

europe street

In 2015, the World Resources Institute (WRI) unveiled new guidance for Scope 2 emissions accounting within the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard. This update introduced a market-based accounting mechanism that gives companies the opportunity to reduce their Scope 2 emissions through the purchase of renewable energy certificates, PPAs, etc. This provision has driven a new focus on global energy purchasing, with more organizations looking for options across the globe.  

Product profile

The Guarantee of Origin is a voluntary renewable energy product, currently available within 20 European countries. Similar to a REC in the U.S., a GO represents the environmental attributes (but not the power) associated with renewable energy.

A GO represents one megawatt hour of electricity from a renewable resource. The European Energy Certificate System (EECS) certifies and registers each GO, preventing double counting and identifying the source of the GO and the method of production. GOs , include a wider set of technologies than US RECs do, including hydropower, biomass, and combined heat and power (CHP).

GO certificates are viable for 12 months from the date of issue.   

GOs details


Regulatory considerations

The European voluntary market is well defined with clear norms of transparency and accountability. However, there are some complexities to the market that are important to understand. Although the EECS system creates rules around the creation and transfer of GOs, there are some country specific rules that can impact customers, specifically around project eligibility and GO retirement.

GOs map

Note: As of September 2017, Lithuania and Greece are in the process of applying to participate. Portugal and Britain are in active discussions.

Akamai’s comprehensive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Akamai wind farm

Akamai Technologies, the world’s largest cloud delivery platform, recently invested in an 80 megawatt wind farm in Texas. This investment (through a PPA) is designed to match the company’s aggregated energy load in Texas with new renewable energy. The project is Seymour Hills Wind Farm, developed by Infinity Renewables and expected to come online in 2018.

This is the latest chapter in Akamai’s long-term approach to decarbonizing their operations. 3Degrees (originally Origin Climate) has been working with Akamai since 2015 to build and implement a renewable energy strategy.

Laying the foundation

Our first project together laid the foundation when we worked with Akamai to analyze their worldwide energy use. Akamai’s energy use is not large or concentrated, but is rather small and distributed throughout outsourced data centers, beyond their operational control. With Akamai’s challenge in mind, we analyzed several alternatives including tax equity investments, virtual power purchase agreements and long-term renewable attribute purchases. We looked at environmental impacts as well as cost, benefits and risk they might entail. The Akamai team used this analysis to establish a strategy and start to engage company stakeholders.

Setting a greenhouse gas and renewable energy goal

To formalize their strategy and ensure company-wide alignment, Akamai decided to set a formal renewable energy and climate goal. 3Degrees benchmarked more than 30 other companies, calculated baseline performance for key metrics, and projected those into the future, taking into account company growth estimates, the changing grid around the world, and the impact of actions Akamai could take.

In addition to the analytical work, we helped Akamai build the materials needed to educate internal stakeholders. As a result, Akamai’s Board of Directors adopted a goal to power 50% of the company’s global network operations with renewables by 2020, and to achieve an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the same timeframe.

“The team from 3Degrees has been instrumental in helping us set goals, develop a strategy and implement projects. With their help we have been able to find new ways to invest in renewable energy that meet our business objectives.”

– Dr. Nicola Peill-Moelter, Akamai Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability

Executing the plan with an innovative PPA

With the goal in place, the company was ready to begin executing its plan. Given Akamai’s load distribution and favorable development environment, the Texas power market was selected for their first procurement. 3Degrees worked with the Akamai team to develop the procurement specs and manage the RFI and RFP process, including developer interviews. We reviewed proposals, conducted financial analysis and due diligence, provided a project recommendation and assisted with developer negotiations, accounting policies and other details.

“Only recently have companies like Akamai with small, distributed loads been able to make a meaningful impact on decarbonizing operations that go beyond purchasing unbundled renewable energy credits. We believe this can be a model for others and we’re excited to help lead the way.”

– Jim Benson, Akamai EVP and CFO

In May 2017 Akamai signed a deal to source energy from an 80 megawatt wind project in Texas. The project is slated to go online in 2018. Akamai expects to offset the energy use from their Texas cloud services operations, which are largely housed in co-location data centers. The Texas commitment represents about seven percent of Akamai’s global power load. They continue to pursue other initiatives to meet their renewable energy and climate goals.

More on 3Degrees Energy and Climate Consulting

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Scoping and Mitigating your GHGs

An airplane flying over mountain landscape representing responsibility for GHG

Most human activities emit greenhouse gases (GHGs). The dramatic rise began in the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution and today many GHG emitting activities are considered essential to the global economy. However, that doesn’t mean we are powerless. Here are three steps you can take to mitigate and reduce your carbon footprint. 

  1. Conservation through reduction and efficiency measures. Local utilities and hardware stores often have programs and products that help you use less every day.  
  2. Choosing renewable energy. Onsite generation, direct purchase agreements or matching usage with renewable energy certificates are all ways to get the environmental benefits of clean power for the electricity you do use.  
  3. Balancing carbon emissions. Purchasing carbon offsets allow you to compensate for non-electricity based emissions resulting from boilers, vehicle fleets and travel as examples.

Counting GHGs

To get started we recommend you prepare a GHG inventory following the World Resources Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The protocol recommends you sort GHG producing activities by Scope 1, 2 and 3 criteria. Doing so will give you clear understanding of where GHG emissions originate. It will also give you a sense of where you have direct control over changes versus where you simply have influence, such as your supply chain. The separation by scope also avoids ‘double-counting’ of emissions.

  • Scope 1: Direct GHG emissions that occur from sources owned or controlled by the organization, such as emissions from combustion in boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and other assets owned or controlled by the organization.
  • Scope 2: GHG emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by the organization. Scope 2 emissions physically occur at the facility where electricity is generated.
  • Scope 3: GHG emissions that are a consequence of the organization’s activities but occur from sources not owned or controlled by the organization. For example, Scope 3 GHG emissions are those associated with the production of purchased goods, employee commercial flying, or the use of sold products.

Once calculated you may be surprised by the size of your business’ carbon footprint. The good news is each scope category can be addressed:

3Degrees' GHG chart


What are greenhouse gases?

The health of earth’s climate is linked to how much sunlight is absorbed and reflected by our atmosphere. Our atmosphere acts like a filmy blanket around the planet, holding in some but not all of the heat. Some common atmospheric gases can thicken the blanket trapping in heat and cause temperatures to rise. These gases are called “greenhouse gases” or GHGs.


3 Great Carbon Calculators

Hands over computer keyboard

 There are many carbon calculators around but here are three of our favorites


1. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Household Emissions Calculator

  • The EPA’s online calculator allows you to determine your household’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Their website also provides suggestions on actions you can take to reduce your emissions.

2. The Nature Conservancy Carbon Footprint Calculator

  • The Nature Conservancy, a conservation organization and 3Degrees partner, hosts a calculator on its website that allows you to calculate both your personal greenhouse gas emissions, as well as those of your entire household.

3. Safe Climate Carbon Footprint Calculator

  • A project of the World Resources Institute, a global environmental think tank, this calculator can be used by individuals outside of the U.S. and Canada.

This is just a partial list of carbon calculators available. Of course we can’t list them all but if you have a suggestion please let us know. And if you are a business, non-profit or government agency ready to supporting renewable energy and mitigate the impact of your unavoidable carbon emissions we want to hear from you. We have options ranging from Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to carbon offsets to direct procurement.

What Inspires your Environmentalism?

To celebrate Earth Day, 3Degrees' employees share moments that influenced their decision to work for the environment

In celebration of Earth Day we asked some of our coworkers what inspires their green streak. Here’s what we heard.



My tipping point was during a trip to Laos where we hiked to a remote village and stayed one night…

Valerie from 3Degrees is inspired by her trip to a village in Laos

Basic necessities, like clean water and septic systems, were all things that most of them had never experienced. They hauled jugs of water back and forth each day from a clean water source a mile away. Cooking happened over an open fire and candles were used after sundown. I realized that if something were to happen to their rice crop, not only would they have nothing to eat but also no source of income. In one night, I was enlightened and realized even basic water pump irrigation systems or renewable energy sources would absolutely change their lives and protect them from unforeseen climate changes. It made me feel incredibly lucky that I grew up where I did and want to do what I can to help to make their lives easier.




My interest in environmentalism grew gradually…

Jason hikes Pacific Crest Trail

I didn’t realize I cared so much during the 4 months I spent hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I just knew I loved being in nature. I noticed in the months after, when I was digesting my trip and sleeping on the floor of a New York City apartment, that the biggest adventure of my life was on a strip of land 2 feet wide.




Growing up in northern California, my family spent summers at a cabin in Lake Tahoe…

Megan from 3Degrees' summers spent in Tahoe with family inspired her to work for the environment

The days were filled with hiking and fort building with my brother. Year-round, this early appreciation for the wilderness informed my everyday activities, eventually leading me to study Political Science and Environmental Studies. So for me, there wasn’t a “tipping point” or ah-ha moment. I just never conceived another way to be. It’s always been my dream to help build a future where the wonder of our world’s wilderness will be protected, valued and accessible.




I grew up “off-grid” in a communal family arrangement in rural Vermont…

Gates from 3Degrees carrying a pile of boxes in front of cabin

So naturally, in my teens and early twenties I rebelled and sought materialism. Post-college, after a few years of 80-hour work weeks and New York City life, it felt wrong. So I quit. I took a low-paying job at a back-country lodge on the Appalachian Trail. One morning while baking bread for the guests at 5 a.m and desperately sipping coffee, I looked out the window at an under-cast sky.  I saw an ocean of clouds with the mountains peaking through and suddenly understood why my parents chose to raise us the way they did.




I’m an animal lover – and that’s what motivates my environmentalism…

Leslie from 3Degrees knew she wanted to help protect animals when she handfed a manatee when she was 15

I want our planet to be a safe home for everything we share it with: kittens, sharks, snakes, you name it. I realized it when I was 15 growing up in Tampa Bay. I had the chance to hand feed a manatee. Her mouth opened horizontally and then vertically. It was amazing. All my life I’d seen commercials and signs warning boaters to slow down. But it was in that moment, with the manatee, that I realized I should do something to help protect them too.




I grew up in Bluemont Virginia…

Kelly from 3Degrees was inspired to protect the environment after watching The Last Mountain

It’s in a region of our country where MTR (Mountain Top Removal) is a fact of life. Every day at home I was surrounded by beautiful mountains. I never imagined a world where they would be gone. Then I watched The Last Mountain and realized how close Appalachia is to a dramatic restructuring. I knew we still needed energy but I thought there has got to be other options. While majoring in Environmental Studies at VCU I interned at a biofuel company and quickly learned that other people want the choice too.



Sometime in late 2000 I met one of the authors of Cultural Creatives…

Lisa from 3Degrees was inspired to protect the environment after meating the author of Cultural

That’s how I learned that there are 50 million people in the US that care about health, environment and other issues that also mattered to me. I’d been working in investment banking and telecom but was ready for something more inspired. Not long after the meeting, I won a position at a green building materials retailer and quickly recognized that the building industry was a transforming market. Together the two experiences opened my eyes to a different, better way to approach business and that I could be part of doing something beyond business as usual.

REC Claims: Accurate Promotion of Renewable Energy

lone wind turbine on pasture

We all want more renewable energy. It’s a good thing. And we want to talk about its benefits. Renewable energy generators, sellers and customers want to promote their environmental actions. Generators should be able to say they generate renewable energy and renewable energy buyers should be able to say they’re consuming renewable energy. The goal is to do this in a manner that protects consumers and doesn’t jeopardize renewable energy certificate (REC) contracts.

The issue

When you sell a REC, you are essentially selling the claiming rights, reporting rights and environmental attributes (e.g. emissions avoided) associated with renewable energy generation. REC contracts are jeopardized when two parties are claiming the same environmental attributes — known as double counting. Accurate marketing by renewable energy sellers protects their REC sales and reduces the risk of double counting and consumer deception.

Example: If you sold the REC to Party A and the power to Party B, do not use language that gives Party B the impression that he/she is consuming renewable electricity or the associated environmental benefits. Party B has no right to claim any use of renewable energy. If you’re telling both Party A and Party B that they’re both receiving environmental benefits from the same MWh of renewable energy, then that is double counting.

The solution

Below are some best practices for renewable energy sellers that help avoid the risk of double counting:

  • If you do not legally own the REC, don’t make a claim about the renewable energy — where it goes, who buys it or who is benefiting. If you do not make a claim, there is no chance of double counting.
  • Limit the scope of your marketing statements so they do not exceed the RECs you are keeping. The scope of your claims should not overlap with the scope of your REC sales. If you want to talk about the benefits of the renewable energy, it must be done accurately. Do not claim to receive any environmental benefits of the renewable energy unless you own the REC.
  • Match the volumes: If you own 100 percent of the RECs from a project and are retiring those RECs for yourself, then you can make claims about consuming 100 percent of the renewable benefits. However, if you’ve sold some or all of the RECs, then your marketing claims should not exceed the REC volumes you are keeping for yourself.
  • Match the time periods: If you are keeping the RECs in Year 1 and selling the RECs in Year 2, then your marketing in Year 1 should not state or imply that you are using renewable energy in Year 2.
  • If you sell some or all of the RECs, then say so. If you put out a press release or highlight a project profile on your website that describes the renewable energy your project is generating (and this is a project from which you’re selling the RECs), then include a statement to that effect. By doing so, you won’t give the wrong impression that renewable energy is going someplace it’s not. For example: “Hotel Acme has solar panels that generate clean, renewable energy. Some or all of the renewable energy is sold to others.” 

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for REC sellers is to be thoughtful about language use surrounding REC claims. Open, direct and honest communication between REC sellers, REC purchasers and electricity purchasers will help uphold the integrity of REC contracts.

Additional resources:

Powdr’s Clean Energy Initiative Meets Good Clean Fun

Snowboarder treks up the snow

With a mission to share, inspire and celebrate lifestyle and mountain sports, Powdr owns and operates eight mountain resorts located across the country. Understanding that the future of these outdoor spaces depends on a serious effort to stop climate change, Powdr supports a variety of carbon cutting and energy saving initiatives at their resorts.

Resorts have sacrificed revenue from selling plastic water bottles on location, commissioned a series of research on climate change and how it will impact the recreation community and created the initiative, Protect Your Playground, to fund ideas that further advance Powdr’s sustainability goals.

In 2015, Powdr partnered with 3Degrees to purchase enough wind RECs to match 100% of the electricity used at their eight resorts. With a mission to connect people to cleaner energy on a massive scale, 3Degrees enlisted their in-house marketing and creative team to design a campaign to:

  • Build the Powdr Green brand
  • Inspire resort-based marketing teams to talk more about carbon neutrality
  • Increase employee confidence on the subject
  • Give Powdr more value out of their REC and carbon offset purchase


3Degrees designs campaign logo and boilerplate

Our designers and writers conceptualized the look, feel and tone. The campaign communicates carbon neutrality as a brand ideology people should be proud of.


Campaign cover images designed by 3Degrees

We developed social media assets, visuals and copy, to communicate the resort’s investment in renewable energy to their social networks.


Powdr e-blast designed by 3Degrees

A template for e-blasts was created to promote the resort’s green initiative during peak sales seasons.


Powdr "ask me" buttons designed by 3Degrees

“Ask me” buttons not only prompted resort guests to ask about the campaign, but encouraged employees to stay up to date with Powdr’s sustainability initiative.


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