[Greenbuilding] Calculating Carbon Footprint

John Salmen terrain at shaw.ca
Thu Jan 28 09:47:50 MST 2016

I doubt there are many rich folks on this list – by definition being a contributor could eliminate that demographic. Would be interesting to know what the 1% footprint would be that we are busy trying to calculate how to compensate for. The last few decades have been interesting in that is has both globalized our experience and created a demand to share that – which is both exciting as it involve both ‘travel’ and ‘appreciation’  which is thrilling - but it also dissipates the energy and learning that can build in a local environment. It is frustrating though that our experience locally sometimes doesn’t get appreciated as much as it does globally.


As you grow older you may have a family or an extended family of employees and also the people provide your materials and food that are based locally. These are the real relationships that are much more substantial than any visceral experience in travel. And typically if you are true to those needs you really don’t have much time left for being much outside your local region.


Being inside your local region means you know where to buy your supplies and for food where to buy your vegetables, where to buy your meat and how to make your budget work with those choices – because those incomes depend upon your support and ultimately your income depends upon those relationships. 


I am not sure if this is germane to the discussion but thought I would throw it in. 



From: Greenbuilding [mailto:greenbuilding-bounces at lists.bioenergylists.org] On Behalf Of conservation architect
Sent: January-27-16 3:39 PM
To: Green Building
Subject: Re: [Greenbuilding] Calculating Carbon Footprint



Norbert Senf wrote:

According to the IPCC, there is a 2.3 multiplier on the greenhouse effect of airplance CO2, from the water vapour emissions into the stratosphere. I have yet to see a calculator that accounts for this, perhaps because it steps on everyone's toes. It easily makes air travel the largest contributor, for many of us rich folks.................N


My comment:

This is good to know.  Do you have a source for that IPCC discernment?  Since we are measuring co2 or it’s heat trapping equivalent co2 for methane, I would want to use the 2.3 factor if I can find convincing documentation.  Among sicientist, the IPCC has a reputation of being conservative in their projections in order to reach consensus.  Our main purpose in promoting this exercise is to get us to gain awareness of our impact to motivate improvements.  Getting people to look at the impact of very popular air travel is important.  


I want to include food, because that is another important measurable co2 emissions.  I particularly want to see the impact of packaging, distance, and different food types.  Entering in item by item with online food calculator would give the best result.  However, the tedium of doing this may prevent many from participating.  Therefore, an easier metric would increase participation with a loss of accuracy.  I am going to try tracking our grocery purchases to see if I can learn my food carbon footprint.  My vegan daughter as well as some on this list have claimed that a meet diet has as much or more impact than airline travel.  I am doubtful about that discernment.  However, it would be interesting to see if this is true by the numbers.  I do agree that meat from feedlot, particularly beef does have a high carbon footprint.  Some of this is the fossil fuels used.  In the case of beef it also includes the methane they burp as part of their normal digestion.  


Mike O'Brien wrote:

I don't try to include food and consumables, too vague at this point. Above is a good start.


My comment:

I think that tracking the information that is accurate such as quantity of gasoline or electricity should be separate from embodied energy in consumables where the metric by the calculators is less apparent.  


Bob Waldrop wrote:

One issue I run in to when calculating carbon emissions is that we heat with passive solar and wood.  Our household of 4 buys electricity generated by wind (about 11,000 kwh/yr for everything -- hot water, summer AC, entertainment, lights, computers, etc).  We use a small amount (5 gallons) of propane each month as cooking fuel.  

What's the goal we should be shooting for?  i.e. is there a "Kyoto Protocol allowance" per household or per capita?

One thing we don't do is fly.  Nobody in our household has flown anywhere for years and we've pretty much stopped long distance road trips too.  I sometimes go to Tulsa or to my hometown in southwest Oklahoma, so we are operating in about a 130 mile radius of our home.  One car for 3 adults, 1 kid.  Kid gets to walk to school every day.  We seem to be losing the desire to travel, lol.  I wrote a friend of mine who is a cloistered Benedictine monk about that and he replied, "This increased stability in your life is a sign of increased sanity."



My comment:

Your practice appear very mindful of an aspiration to live sustainably.  Getting your choices to become a trend is key for addressing climate change.  


I think travel is a big component of the American lifestyle.  I am often surprised when individuals claiming passionate concern about climate change commonly telling of the trip to China, Africa, Europe, sometimes multiple times or annually.   That is why asking them to tract the impact will give them more information that we hope would inform them of their impact and motivate ethics driven modifications.  The key if for them to identify their own impact.


Thanks for the imput.  I am glad to know the list still gains some attention.  



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