By: Cary Weiner on April 21st, 2017
Waaay back in 2011, Christopher Jones and Daniel Kammen of UC-Berkeley published a paper that quantified carbon emissions (CO2 equivalents) from households in a freshly comprehensive way. Their method accounts for CO2e embodied in everything we do – from eating to air travel – using life cycle assessments. In short, it’s the real deal.
Luckily for those of us who are into such a thing, they’ve also published an online calculator so the Average Jane can calculate her own carbon footprint pretty painlessly and then see custom suggestions for reducing it. We here at Your Energy Colorado took it upon ourselves to scratch the surface of the footprint of an average Colorado household. (Direct energy use is colored orange.)
Surprised? The average Colorado household emits about 52 metric tons of CO2e annually. The 25,000 miles driven per year by this household is significant – much more than the 16,500 driven by an average New York household. And although our electricity mix is getting greener by the day, we still run a majority fossil fuel mix. Our 8.9 tons of CO2e per household from this sector towers over the 5.1 tons from a typical household in Washington state.
Direct energy uses make up a very significant portion of the overall emissions. In fact, the footprint of vehicle fuel, electricity, natural gas, and air travel make up over half (52%) of the average Colorado household’s total carbon footprint! Which is to say that wisely chosen conservation, efficiency, and renewables can be carbon-effective in addition to cost-effective. Give a moment for Earth Week by checking out the calculator for yourself.
Jones, C. and Kammen, D. Quantifying Carbon Footprint Reduction Opportunities for U.S. Households and Communities. Environmental Science and Technology, 2011 (45).