California-based Airline and Leading Carbon Offset Provider Launch Option for Travelers to Support Innovative Emissions Reduction Projects
Silver Spring, MD and San Francisco, CA – Dec. 4, 2008 – As part of a continuing effort to implement innovative environmental sustainability practices, Virgin America, the California-based airline, has partnered with Carbonfund.org , the nation’s leading nonprofit carbon offset provider, to allow travelers to help offset the environmental impact of their flight. Travelers on the new airline can choose to offset their flight at the time of booking through the Virgin America ticket purchase confirmation web page. Coming soon, Virgin America will also give guests the opportunity to offset during their flight via the airline’s touch-screen seatback inflight entertainment system.
“As both a Virgin-branded company and the country’s only California-based airline, it is in our DNA to make environmentally sustainable practices a core priority in our business model,” said Virgin America Senior Vice President Dave Pflieger. “While our investment in new aircraft and consistent use of operational practices already make us one of the most environmentally efficient airlines in the U.S., our partnership with Carbonfund.org will give our guests the option to help us further reduce our carbon footprint through fully-vetted and impactful offset projects.”
Virgin America and Carbonfund.org selected offset projects focused on emissions reductions in renewable energy and energy efficiency. As with all projects supported by Carbonfund.org, these projects are independently verified. The new carrier also looked to Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) CarbonOffsetList.org to help select credible and meaningful offset projects. EDF’s carefully researched list provides a strong and independent starting point for selecting carbon offsets that represent real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Virgin America’s selected projects include:
• Inland Empire Utilities Agency Biodigester, a methane capture project that creates clean, renewable energy and reduces more than 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, while also protecting the quality of the region’s groundwater. The project is located in Chino Basin, Calif.
• IdleAire, a truck stop electrification project that reduces tailpipe emissions from trucks by connecting truck cabins with electricity at rest stops and eliminating the need to keep engines running for power. This approach saves a gallon of diesel per hour.
“Our partnership with Virgin America means support for two innovative projects in the fight against global warming,” said Executive Director Eric Carlson of Carbonfund.org. “We are excited to partner with Virgin America, an airline that has been committed to sustainability practices since day one. Providing travelers a way to get involved in the sustainability effort, by offsetting their flight emissions at the time of bookings, fits well with our goal of making it easy and affordable to offset one’s carbon footprint and support emissions reductions.”
“While leading companies are eager to purchase carbon offsets to help meet their sustainability goals, many remain unclear where to start in selecting these offsets,” said Tom Murray, managing director, corporate partnerships, EDF. “We developed CarbonOffsetList.org to enable companies such as Virgin America to confidently choose credible offsets. CarbonOffsetList.org eliminates the guesswork and offers buyers direct access to a list of thoroughly vetted projects that meet EDF’s high-quality criteria.”
Developed through a rigorous review process in collaboration with a committee of external experts, CarbonOffsetList.org identifies pre-screened, independently verified offset projects that meet EDF’s criteria for high-quality carbon offsets. Of the 11 projects featured on CarbonOffsetList.org, four are offered through Carbonfund.org.
Virgin America launched in 2007 with the goal of building an airline from the ground up that makes environmentally sustainable practices a core part of its business model. Virgin America operates a fleet that is up to 30% more fuel and carbon efficient than the average fleet flying domestically. From its launch, the airline has employed progressive practices to reduce its carbon footprint, such as single engine taxiing, idle reverse landings, maximizing use of efficient ground power, utilizing advanced avionics to fly more efficiently, and cost index flying – the practice of regulating cruising speeds to reduce fuel burn. The airline’s company-wide sustainability principles can be found at:http://www.virginamerica.com/va/html/sustainability.pdf
More details on the offset program and selected projects can be found at:www.carbonfund.org/virginamerica.
EDITORS NOTE: Virgin America is a U.S.-controlled and operated airline and an entirely separate company from Virgin Atlantic. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is a minority share investor in Virgin America.
About Virgin America: Launched in August 2007, Virgin America offers guests attractive fares and a host of innovative features aimed at reinventing air travel. The carrier’s base of operations is San Francisco International Airport’s ultra-modern International Terminal. The airline’s new Airbus A320-family aircraft offer touch-screen inflight entertainment, moodlighting and power outlets. In 2008, Virgin America was named “Best Domestic Airline” in Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. The airline recently became the first commercial passenger airline to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders program, and is affiliated with the Virgin Group, which has committed to reinvesting profits from Virgin-transport related businesses to renewable fuels research and other initiatives that combat climate change. To learn more, visit: www.virginamerica.com.
About Carbonfund.org: Carbonfund.org is the country’s leading nonprofit carbon reduction and offset organization, making it easy and affordable for individuals, businesses and organizations to reduce their climate impact. Carbon offsets enable individuals and businesses to reduce carbon dioxide emissions they are responsible for in their everyday lives by supporting third-party validated renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects where they are most cost effective. Carbonfund.org has over 400,000 individual supporters and works with over 1,000 corporate and nonprofit partners including Discovery, Avis Budget Group, Amtrak, Volkswagen, Dell, and Staples. Visit www.carbonfund.org.
About EDF: Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 500,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. Environmental Defense Fund has a 20 year track record of success in partnering with business. To maintain its independence and credibility, EDF accepts no money from corporate partners; generous individuals and foundations fund its work. For more information, visit www.edf.org.