On February 22nd, Stanford hosted its 36th Viennese Ball at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Bringing together the ancient traditions of Fox Trot, Waltz, Salsa, and Breakdancing, Stanford students descended on San Francisco in tuxedos and ballroom gowns. In the not age-old tradition of eliminating the environmental impact of an event, the not-for-profit Carbon Lighthouse Association purchased carbon allowances to balance out the carbon footprint of the Ball.
Carbon Lighthouse Association accomplishes its mission by competing with power plants for pollution permits in California and nine Northeastern States. In each of these States, every power plant or utility is required by law to purchase one Allowance from the State government for every ton of CO2 it emits. The number of available allowances is capped, hence the term cap-and-trade, and the Carbon Lighthouse Association (an independently governed organization from Carbon Lighthouse, LLC) participates in quarterly auctions for these same permits. This lowers the overall number of available permits, directly reducing emissions and increasing the cost of pollution. While it is better environmentally, and actually profitable, to reduce energy use on site, it is usually not practical to eliminate 100% of energy use on site. Thus, the remaining environmental impact of energy use in a building can be balanced by raising the cost of pollution. To learn more about how to cost-effectively reduce energy use in your own home, visit our article on energy efficiency for individuals.