Take the Challenge Estimate your carbon emissions and see the difference you can make by making a few simple changes. Go to http://green.azcentral.com to use the interactive calculator.
Carbon Footprint Calculator Here is an example using the SafeClimate’s carbon footprint calculator for a household that: • Consists of three people living in Arizona. • Drives 15,000 miles per year in a car that gets 25 mpg. • Travels 6,000 miles by air per year. • Consumes 15,000 kwh of electricity per year. • Consumes 450 therms of natural gas per year. Results from the calculation find that this household’s carbon footprint is 37,185 pounds of CO2 per year, of which 58% is caused by home energy use and 42% by transportation. The legend on the calculator suggests that this carbon footprint is approximately equal to the national average for a household this size. The purchase of carbon offsets is an option of the last resort and usually needs to be researched, because not all carbon offsets are the same. For example, planting trees in the tropics may not be valued as highly as installing solar panels on a local school. Like many new markets, the carbon market is still maturing and has had its share of abuses. International protocols and auditing practices have been established and quality carbon-offset programs should adhere to these conventions. Performing a carbon-footprint calculation can be a revealing exercise for individuals or families. Armed with this information fosters accountability and encourage us to be better stewards of our planet.
Carbon Footprints Resources Recommended Calculators • www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html • www.carbonfootprint.com • www.carbonfund.org/component/content/category/21-carbon-calculators • www.safeclimate.net/calculator Recommended Books • How to Live a Low-Carbon Life: The Individual’s Guide to Stopping Climate Change. Chris Goodall, 2007. • Carbon Counter: Calculate Your Carbon Footprint. Mark Lynas, 2007. • Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5,000 Pounds. David Gershon, 2006. • The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices. Michael Brower and WarrenLeon, 1999. Harvey Bryan is a professor in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the School of Sustainability at ASU. His most recent research involves establishing techniques for measuring the carbon footprint of buildings. This article is one in a series of articles contributed by Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability. The Institute was established to catalyze and advance interdisciplinary research and education on environmental, economic and social sustainability. > Printable pdf of article