Potential carbon offset buyers got some help wading through their options over the last week with the launch of two online offset portfolios and the release of a report ranking North America's top providers.

EcoSecurities and TerraPass have made their offset portfolios available online. Meanwhile, Carbon Concierge, a Bainbridge Graduate Institute offshoot, released a report last week that evaluates offset companies based on its Carbon Offset Provider Evaluation Matrix (COPEM).

EcoSecurities launched ProjectNet Tuesday to give buyers an online trove of information related to more than 40 projects in its portfolio, such as videos, photos, project design documents, third party verifications, and notes from its technical team during onsite monitoring and verification.

TerraPass Inc. is in the midst of shifting from offset retailer to U.S.-based carbon credit originator with the release of its 2009 carbon offset portfolio Monday. The newly unveiled TerraPass Carbon Management Services will focus on small, U.S.-based landfill and agricultural methane abatement projects. Already the division has signed 10 contracts that will generate 2.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions reductions.  

Carbon Concierge ranked 17 North American offset providers in a report issued last week, placing Native Energy at the top of the heap based on eight criteria: business and project transparency; offset quality; project location and offset traceability, industry leadership, business model and program services ratio; third party evaluation; education; and social benefit. TerraPass and EcoSecurities earned top marks in offset quality, industry leadership and third-party evaluation, with final scores of 81 percent and 72 percent, respectively.

In general, the offset providers scored well in third-party evaluation and business and project transparency. The bulk of companies scored poorly in two difficult categories: project location and offset traceability, which emphasizes regionality (tough because of the low volume of high-quality offsets in the U.S.); and business model and program services ratio, which rewards alternative business models (but not traditional business models).