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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 green house gas that is released – carbon dioxide is the green house gas most maligned with being the biggest contributor. But there are others. Methane gas produced by cows is far more serious an issue and more potent form of green house gas emissions.

2. Amount of green house gas released and where its released. Airplanes release green house gases at high altitudes. The effect is far more dramatic than if the same emissions were released at sea level. Its calculated to have an affect 1.9X greater.

3. Cradle to Grave Carbon footprint calculations. How much does one human create over a lifetime.

Why Carbon Footprint?

Thinking about carbon footprints is a simple way of thinking about ways and means of reducing environmental pollution. By reducing ones 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 green house gas emissions.

Reducing the Carbon footprint – Follow the three R’s.

Fortunately, there are actions we can take to reduce our carbon foot print. 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 use of electricity. And 17% is associated directly to 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, geo-thermal 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 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
Coal 955
Oil 893
Natural Gas 650
Nuclear Energy 60
Hydro Electricity 15
Solar Energy 40

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%
Nuclear 18.9%
Renewables (total) 20.1%

 

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, adding timers and photocells to lights to they are only running at night – all reduces 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 a metal halide bulbs its designed to replace. On top of that, lifespans for LED bulbs are 3-5X longer than Metal Halide without any costly recycling fees at end of life.

  Metal Halide LED
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 one 400 Watt Metal Halide over to LED reduces the 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?

Dwayne Kula

 

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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.

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