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Carbon footprint game

Post in 'The Green Room' started by jharkin, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Alright fellow earthy crunchy tree hugging granola eating commie socialist libs! Just for fun, take the test and lets compare ...

    Winner gets an organic free range cage free fair trade tofu granola bar.


    http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

    My personal footprint is 10.88 tons CO2
    Our household total footprint for 4 people is [edit] 25.67 tons CO2 ( 6 tons per person)

    I excluded flights an mileage of business trips, count those as your employers impact.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    Fairly thorough. I like that you can actually enter kWh and therms and put in exactly where you fly and the exact year and model of your vehicles.

    As with many of these, I imagine that people who fill this out are not completely honest. i.e. when reality falls between two possible answers, they pick the one that casts them in the most favorable light or put the one that makes them feel better.

    Criticisms:
    1) Since I didn't see a cordwood option, I estimated with wood pellets.

    2) Also, no option for me selling energy back to grid from PV array. I imagine that would be an offset.

    3) What about pets?

    Overall, not a bad calculator, though.

    13.95 personal.

    17.9 household (4 people)
  3. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Northern MI - in the mitten
    Your Carbon Footprint:
    House 0.34 metric tons of CO2
    Flights 0.00 metric tons of CO2
    Car 3.99 metric tons of CO2
    Motorbike 0.00 metric tons of CO2
    Bus & Rail 0.00 metric tons of CO2
    Secondary 3.67 metric tons of CO2
    Total = 8.00 metric tons of CO2
  4. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Annoying layout for this thing.

    My personal looks to be 8 tons/yr, and 6 of that is 'secondary'.

    Looks like our family footprint for 4 people (2 adults and 2 kids) is ~16 tons
    home energy: ~4 tons (we currently buy 50% wind power)
    commuting: ~6 tons (2 cars and commuter rail)
    "secondary": ~6 tons (food for 1 person? + other stuff??).

    Leaving off my business travel (~20000 air miles/yr): ~6 more tons.

    Looks like the right ballpark values....but breaking down the secondary values would be more educational.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    They forgot to include imported goods. Lots of CO2 in transporting crap from China and wines from Europe.
  6. Poult

    Poult Member

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    9.49 for me, one person. divided more or less in thirds for house, car, and secondary.
  7. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    8 tonnes per year, mostly secondary (food, etc.). House is 1.5 tonnes between two of us (electricity + natural gas). Secondary is about 4 tonnes, and the rest is an annual flight to the US to visit the in-laws.
  8. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    Interesting.

    My carbon footprint is 4.33 tonnes.

    I'll be tree planting in the near future as I have 5 apple trees on order.

    If apple trees count towards offsetting a footprint, I'm feeling doubly smug ;)
  9. gmule

    gmule Feeling the Heat

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    Cord wood should be zero other than processing. No option for that though

    Overall for my family of 5 is 8 tons most of that is due to the cars we drive. Medium sized suv and a minivan. Not sure how it calculates for my motorcycle that I ride 6 months out of the year.
  10. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    It gives a CO2 intensity of wood at 80kg/tonne, which isn't unreasonable given that it's a UK calculator and very few people in the UK have the land to do their own wood processing - the overwhelming majority have to buy it in.
  11. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Family of 5 here...results are not bad I guess...I used a factor of 2 tons of pellets for the 1 1/2 cords of wood we burn.

    Your Carbon Footprint:

    House 1.75 metric tons of CO2
    Flights 0.00 metric tons of CO2
    Car 9.88 metric tons of CO2
    Motorbike 0.00 metric tons of CO2
    Bus & Rail 0.00 metric tons of CO2
    Secondary 4.70 metric tons of CO2
    Total = 16.33 metric tons of CO2
  12. gmule

    gmule Feeling the Heat

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    I was always under the assumption that wood is going to release the same amount of CO2 if it is burned or rots on its own?

    Wood pellets have a manufacturing process that is much more energy intense so I would expect them to have a higher CO2 release overall
  13. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Impressive results, I am amazed at the low numbers you guys get, especially considering the US national average is 20 tons per person.

    We hearth'ers are a thrifty lot :)


    I ran mine one more time for the family:

    House 10.29 tonnes of CO2
    Flights 0.00 tonnes of CO2
    Car 9.07 tonnes of CO2
    Motorbike 0.00 tonnes of CO2
    Bus & Rail 0.00 tonnes of CO2
    Secondary 6.31 tonnes of CO2
    Total = 25.67 tonnes of CO2

    House:
    The big culprit is electric, specifically the dehumidifier I need to keep the stone basement dry. I could buy wind power from the elec co and cut out 5 tons there but it would add $600 a year.
    We could cut 2-3 tons more if I went to 100% wood heat but with a small lot and our schedules its just not practical right now.

    Car:
    Culprit here is my wifes SUV. But even if we trade it in for a hybrid and cut back our driving even more (we are only about 8-9k miles per car which I think is below average for USA) I'm not going to get that under 5. And that would cost $$$$$

    Secondary
    Here I just gotta ask - how do you guys with 2 car families get such low values? With 2 cars, even if I ate local organic vegetarian and buy all second hand I don't think I could get this under 4. We buy half organic and about half local as it is.
  14. gmule

    gmule Feeling the Heat

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    In my household we really don't drive much. When we do we plan our trips so that we don't have to go out. Commuting to on my motorcycle really helps a lot since it gets close to 50 mpg. I also think that they take the age of the vehicle into the equation since older vehicles have less impact on the environment from a manufacturing point of view.
  15. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    gmule - it doesn't include any CO2 given off in combustion of wood for that very reason, rather they are counting fossil fuel used in transporting and processing it. 80kg of CO2 works out at about 5 gallons or so of fuel, which doesn't sound bad for processing and shipping a tonne of wood.
    Vehicle age is counted for in the secondary effects under "car manufacture" - they assume you replace it every few years. If (like me) you only drive second hand cars I'd suggest it is legitimate to count that as zero.

    jharkin - in our case we've only got one car, I cycle to work and my wife's new job will require her to take the bus - city centre of a city that really hates cars. Her current job requires her to do ~12,000 miles a year for about 4 tonnes of CO2, the new one we'll be about 1 tonne of CO2 per year.
    Our car is a 10 year old VW Golf which averages 44 mpg (US) based on petrol pump and odometer, and on those rare occasions we've got something we can't fit in it (running about once a year over the extended family - this year my sister was the one who needed something bigger to move house) we just hire a van for a weekend. Lot cheaper than running a big car all the time.

    The effects of gasoline at $8/gallon!
  16. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    jharkin - another thought about the basement - have you considered ways to stop the water getting in in the first place? If the water table outside is low enough it might be worth digging around the outside of the basement and fitting insulation + french drain. Alternatively, is it possible to use improved ventilation rather than a dehumidifier for part of the year to deal with the moisture? The energy costs of even a big fan are a fraction of those of a dehumidifier.
  17. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I played around with the secondary and it just uses 1 metric ton (tonne) of CO2 per car. OK that's one more ton I can knock off as we bought said gas guzzling SUV used.

    You guys do have some significant advantages over on your side of the pond that make this easier. no doubt. Better transit and transit oriented development, a lot more small car options and incentive to buy them.

    We used to do much better with car impacts when we lived near Boston. My wife rode the commuter train and I drove my 30mpg hatchback 5 miles to work. Now we live in the suburbs and when the kids came along we traded my wife's Corolla for a used Honda Pilot SUV. The mileage is crappy (18 to maybe 22 on the highway) but I feel a little better considering 80% of our miles in that thing is with 4 people & cargo in the car vs. as I drive back and forth to work I still see lots of Americans commuting solo in big V8 monsters.

    Next year we are trading my hatchback for something like an Accord, so hopefully we will be doing a lot more family road trips at 35 mpg instead of 20 and put less miles on the SUV.
  18. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, Ive thought about it quite a bit. Unfortunately we do have a high water table... During a very wet spring like we had 2 years ago the level comes up to almost the basement floor level. The main basement has a (probably post 1900) poured concrete floor which I'm sure has no vapor barrier under it. The rest is a shallow dirt floor crawl - I did put down plastic to seal the floor that helps a bit. The walls are rubble stone. Digging the foundation from the outside would be problematic as with the rubble stone, #1 if you dig it out it might fall apart when it looses the support of the surrounding soil and #2 on the outside there is no smooth surface that you can seal.

    Even if we could do a job like that the cost would likely be more than 20 years worth of dehumidifier bills.

    We use window fan ventilation in the fall... spring and summer around here tend to be too humid.
  19. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    What fraction of the dehumidifier bill is for the spring/summer? You can drop relative humidity by increasing temperature as well as reducing water content, and it's pretty simple to knock up a simple air heating solar panel, or even use air from an attic/loft space of some sort which would probably also keep the rest of the house a little cooler. Loads of examples on buildit solar - http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/SpaceHeating/Space_Heating.htm
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    In the worst months the dehumidifier can run up to 250 KWh/month (over 1/4 of the bill). Problem is I use the basement as workshop space. When its 80F (27C) outside the last thing I want to do is heat the basement and sweat down there!
  21. pdf27

    pdf27 Member

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    I think you're probably stuffed then, depending on electricity prices. Ours are $0.25/kWh, and at those prices I'd look seriously about buying an absorption/adsorption air conditioner and powering it off a solar hot water panel. US electricity prices tend to be significantly lower, which makes the economics dodgy.

    If you're feeling adventurous you could look into knocking up a system like this - http://2007.solarteam.org/page.php?id=641 - although to be honest most types of dessicant will work. If you've got two beds - one do dry the incoming air, a second to be regenerated by solar heat - it should work moderately well. Problem is it'll take a lot of time and end up costing you more than the electricity bill.

    Edit: for comparison, our total electricity bill is 1800 kWh/year
  22. gmule

    gmule Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, I do drive second hand cars and I drive them for a very long time. Both of my vehicles are 12 and 13 years old with over 195,000 miles on each of them. I don't see a need to replace them since they still look and run good. I also have the needed tools and skills to make most any repair so keeping them in great running condition is not an issue for me.
  23. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    OK, I bit. Our total for all the categories for our house of 2 is 16.88 tonnes, so about 8.4 for each of us. (house = 4.88, flights =. 61, cars = 7.54, secondary = 3.84)

    Now, we also own 33 acres, of which 23 is forested and 10 is grassland. I calculated that this property (located in NY) offsets about 2544 tonnes per year. If that calculation is correct, our net total is -2527, or about -1263 each. Woohoo, makes paying those property taxes worth it, I suppose?

    Also, our heat is from a geo system, so our house is all electric. the calculator does not ask what your source of electricity is. I buy all mine as wind power, so that would drop it a little more.
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Since getting into brewing I guess I fail. Though airlocks are burping CO2 at about 2 bubbles a second.
    nola mike and SmokeyTheBear like this.
  25. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    FYI, that works out to ~4 kg/yr. :)

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