In 2017, Duke University and its athletics division took enough business-related flights to generate around 5,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. One round-trip, cross-country flight between Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, where the University is based, and the West Coast nets out to around .6 metric tons of CO2, but for universities and their teams and staff, nonstop travel is inevitable. But the environmental footprint doesn’t have to be.

Duke just announced a partnership with Delta Airlines, its travel provider, in which they will purchase enough carbon offsets to balance out their 2017 emissions. A single carbon offset represents one metric ton of greenhouse gases; the purchase of carbon offsets generally goes toward financing energy efficiency projects around the world, from wind and solar installations to reforestation efforts.

So in deciding how to source the offsets for the Duke-Delta purchase, the two entities turned to a North Carolina-based startup aiming to ensure that carbon offset purchases also have a tangible local effect. Urban Offsets, the startup acts as something of an intermediary between organizations or companies looking to purchase carbon offsets, and the larger carbon marketplace. Urban Offsets, says CEO Shawn Gagné, vets and rates carbon offsetting opportunities, and helps potential purchasers select those that align with their sustainability efforts.

To carry out the tree-planting portion of the bundle, Urban Offsets also coordinates partnerships with on-the-ground agencies in the 12 U.S. markets in which the startup currently operates.

Linking urban forestry with more commonplace carbon offsetting measures, Gagné says, is intended to drive investments toward a community asset “that only provides intangible benefits, and as such is always treated as an expense, not a necessity.”

Read the full article about purchasing carbon offsets by Eillie Anzilotti at Fast Company.