Green-e: Green renewable energy in the US

December 17, 2007

Green-e logo

Green-e is…

the nation’s leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market. Green-e offers certification and verification of renewable energy and greenhouse gas mitigation products.

This is from the Green-e home page. It took me a while to figure out what it meant.

Or maybe not.

In part, the problem for me is that the Green-e is used for three programs.

Program Opinion
1 Green-e Climate is a voluntary certification program that sets consumer-protection and environmental-integrity standards for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions sold in the voluntary market. For a retail consumer – me – this seems to mean a company is selling its ability to produce products with lower manufacturing emissions to those that can’t.
2 Green-e Energy is the independent certification and verification program for renewable energy. I think this means that a company makes energy from renewable sources in an environmentally friendly way.
3 Green-e Marketplace allows companies to display the logo when they have purchased a qualifying amount of renewable energy and passed our verification standards. For a retail consumer – that’s me again – this seems to mean a company has tried to off-set (since this seems to be the word favoured everywhere at the moment) some “bad” things by buying some “good” things. I don’t know how much I need to know to really understand how “good” this makes a company.

And those programs don’t directly relate to what I want to know when I pick up a retail product: how environmentally friendly is this product in manufacture or use? So, for me Green-e has failed to meet its Mission statement, which is all about customers.

This doesn’t mean the programs are rubbish, but they could do with using words more economically.

The bizarre part is that I finally think I understand what this about because I read something on a different website. TerraChoice, “North America’s premiere environmental marketing agency” and “a science-based marketing firm” writes about the Green-e: Renewable Electricity Certification Program, which is one of its marketing products.

Green-e certifies renewable electricity products that meet the environmental and consumer protection standards established by the Program. The Program also requires that electricity providers disclose information about their product to their customers in a standardized format. This enables consumers to make informed purchasing decisions and helps to build consumer confidence in retail renewable electricity products. Through these efforts, the Green-e Program hopes to expand the retail market for renewable electricity products and for power from cleaner non-renewable generation.

Ah! So I didn’t understand what the product is! The product must be the purchase of electricity from an electricity company. I thought that was a (utility) service.

Maybe it’s because I’ve come across Green-e out-of-context, it would have been on a service (sorry, “product”) contract. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to US English.

Or maybe not?

This entry is part of the Infomancy Eco-Symbols Series.

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