A carbon footprint is the sum of all greenhouse gases emitted by a single individual based on their lifestyle and activities. Additionally, you can also calculate a carbon footprint for a company, a product, or even a specific event. The calculation of carbon footprint depends on three specific factors:
1. Type of greenhouse gas that is released – carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas most maligned with being the biggest contributor. But there are others. Methane gas produced by cows is far more serious an issue and a more potent form of greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Amount of greenhouse gas released and where it’s released. Airplanes release greenhouse gases at high altitudes. The effect is far more dramatic than if the same emissions were released at sea level. It’s calculated to have an effect 1.9X greater.
3. Cradle to Grave Carbon footprint calculations. This is how much one human creates over a lifetime.
Why Carbon Footprint?
Thinking about carbon footprints is a simple way of thinking about ways and means of reducing the environmental pollution. By reducing one’s carbon footprint each one of us can contribute to making the earth a safer, better place to live in.
Of more immediate concern to skeptics may be the global negotiations in Copenhagen aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized countries. It is likely that the billions of dollars that will be needed to enforce these cuts may have a debilitating effect on the economy or cause many more manufacturing jobs to migrate to less developed nations. It, therefore, makes sense to invest in technologies that would reduce the carbon footprint allowing developed countries to continue to grow without a commensurate increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing the Carbon footprint – Follow the three Rs.
Fortunately, there are actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint. We can fly less often. Use electric cars. Drive more fuel-efficient cars. Ride a bike whenever possible. Use Energy Star-rated products. Replace old appliances. And convert old light bulbs to LED.
Remember the three R’s – “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”.
Carbon footprint and electricity
Estimates suggest that almost half of our carbon footprint profile comes from the use of electricity. And 17% is associated directly with our use of lighting. Our dependency on electricity in our daily lives is undeniable. Electricity is generated by nuclear, natural gas, and coal. It can also be produced by renewable generation, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro generation. The carbon footprint of a typical household or human is directly correlated with the amount of electricity used and its generation source. The table below shows the CO2 grams equivalent produced when 1 KW/H of electricity is produced from different generation sources.
|Source||Grams of CO2 produced
for every 1 KW generated
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, here’s the breakdown of how we produce electricity in the United States:
|Fossil fuels (total)||60.8%|
Save electricity – and – reduce carbon emissions
For every 1 kWh of electricity produced, its calculated 830g of carbon equivalents are released into the atmosphere. Therefore, it follows that if we reduce our consumption of electricity, we will then reduce our carbon emissions.
How can we do this? Replacing old, outdated appliances, using motion sensors on lights, and adding timers and photocells to lights so they are only running at night – all reduce energy consumption.
Reduced Energy Consumption = Reduced Carbon Footprint = Money Savings for you
Replacing Metal Halide with LED
LED lights use 50% -75% less energy than metal halide bulbs designed to replace. On top of that, lifespans for LED bulbs are 3-5X longer than Metal Halide without any costly recycling fees at the end of life.
|Power Consumption (watts)||455 (400 Watts + Ballast Factor)||105|
|Kwh (Units of Electricity Used Each Hour)||0.455||0.105|
|Hours of Operation Per Day||12||12|
|Carbon Emissions (tons) per year/lamp||1.4||0.323|
|Reduction in Carbon Footprint (tons) / lamp||1.077|
How can a business dramatically cut its carbon footprint? Convert to LED. Think about that, converting 400 Watt Metal Halide over to LED reduces carbon emission by over a ton per year. And that’s per light. A large facility will see that multiply for every light in the facility.
Now let’s put it into economic terms. That same 400 Watt Metal Halide to LED Conversion is a 75% reduction in your electricity bill. Now, do we have your attention?
About the Author
Dwayne Kula is President of LED Lighting Supply. On any given day, Dwayne is writing content for the site and helps manage the marketing initiatives that are on-going. He has a Software Engineering degree and still dabbles in writing software for the company as needed. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, working out, playing the occasional game of golf and exploring New England.