Big environmental footprints: 21 percent of homes account for 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions

Jul 18, 2013

Energy conservation in a small number of households could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, scientists are reporting. Their study, which measured differences in energy demands at the household level, appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Dominik Saner and colleagues point out that the energy people use to power their homes and to satisfy their mobility needs accounts for more than 70 percent of emissions of carbon dioxide, the main involved in global climate change. To cope with that problem, policymakers and environmentalists have focused largely on the supply side, for instance, electric power plants, heating systems and cars that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Saner and his team decided to take a close look at the other end of the equation—how energy consumption for housing and land-based mobility at the household level impacts greenhouse gas emissions.

Their study of more than 3,000 households in a Swiss town found that only 21 percent of the households accounted for almost 50 percent of greenhouse . The biggest factors contributing to a few families having a disproportionately large environmental footprint were large living spaces (which use energy for heating, lighting and cooling) and long commutes in private vehicles. "If their emissions could be halved, the total emissions of the community would be reduced by 25 percent," the scientists concluded.

Explore further: 21 percent of homes account for 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions

More information: pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es304084p

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Report: Use of coal to generate power rises

Jul 12, 2013

Power plants in the United States are burning coal more often to generate electricity, reversing the growing use of natural gas and threatening to increase domestic emissions of greenhouse gases after a period of decline, ...

EU emitted 3.3% less greenhouse gas in 2011

May 29, 2013

Europe emitted 3.3 percent less Earth-warming greenhouse gases in 2011—the lowest level since 1990, a European Environment Agency (EEA) report said Wednesday.

German greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2012

Feb 25, 2013

Germany saw increased emissions in greenhouse gases last year due to more coal and gas usage while the country seeks to develop its renewable energy sources, officials said Monday.

Researchers set out path for global warming reversal

Jul 10, 2013

Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) can reverse the global warming trend and push temperatures back below the global target of 2°C above pre-industrial levels, even if current policies fail and we initially ...

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

Apr 18, 2014

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 10

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rwinners
2.8 / 5 (12) Jul 19, 2013
Actually, the headline is misleading. It isn't (just) the home, it is the people who own that home.
rug
3.6 / 5 (12) Jul 19, 2013
Before any of the normal "Global warming is a hoax" people show up I would just like to say one thing. I've said it before, but I think it's a valid point.

CO2 is bad for you. You can't breath to much of it and live. So why put it in the air we breath? Doesn't matter if it's warming the Earth, just look to your own personal health. If you think putting CO2 in the air is a good thing then let me hold you over a smoke stack of a coal burning power plant for an hour.

The same goes for all the other crap we put int he air/water/ground. We simply need to stop because none of it is any good for health and long life. I would think this point would be pretty basic but I never hear anyone make it.
Neinsense99
3 / 5 (14) Jul 19, 2013
Climate change deniers using dirty tricks from 'tobacco wars'
http://phys.org/n...ars.html

Science under fire from 'merchants of doubt': US historian
http://phys.org/n...ian.html

Leaks show group's climate efforts
http://phys.org/n...rts.html

Learn more about logical fallacies and real critical thinking here:
http://rationalwi...-science
or here http://rationalwi...y_theory
ScooterG
1.3 / 5 (16) Jul 20, 2013
Before any of the normal "Global warming is a hoax" people show up I would just like to say one thing. I've said it before, but I think it's a valid point.

CO2 is bad for you. You can't breath to much of it and live. So why put it in the air we breath? Doesn't matter if it's warming the Earth, just look to your own personal health. If you think putting CO2 in the air is a good thing then let me hold you over a smoke stack of a coal burning power plant for an hour.

The same goes for all the other crap we put int he air/water/ground. We simply need to stop because none of it is any good for health and long life. I would think this point would be pretty basic but I never hear anyone make it.


But plants love it - they make oxygen out of it, which we all need. Besides, who likes flat beer?
ForFreeMinds
1.3 / 5 (15) Jul 21, 2013
Actually, the headline is misleading. It isn't (just) the home, it is the people who own that home.


Al Gore would be a good example of someone living in a large home (over 10,000 sq ft) with a huge travel carbon footprint (as he jets around in his personal/chartered planes). It's ironic that his personal actions are quite contrary to what he says we must do to survive,

And it's criminally immoral that he'd use government to force us to use less energy and what we'd use to be heavily controlled by government force, while he goes on his merry way consuming all the energy he wants, and polluting all he wants.
ForFreeMinds
1.3 / 5 (15) Jul 21, 2013
Actually, the headline is misleading. It isn't (just) the home, it is the people who own that home.


Al Gore would be a good example of someone living in a large home (over 10,000 sq ft) with a huge travel carbon footprint (as he jets around in his personal/chartered planes). It's ironic that his personal actions are quite contrary to what he says we must do to survive,

And it's criminally immoral that he'd use government to force us to use less energy and what we'd use to be heavily controlled by government force, while he goes on his merry way consuming all the energy he wants, and polluting all he wants.
Neinsense99
2.9 / 5 (15) Jul 21, 2013
Before any of the normal "Global warming is a hoax" people show up I would just like to say one thing. I've said it before, but I think it's a valid point.

CO2 is bad for you. You can't breath to much of it and live. So why put it in the air we breath? Doesn't matter if it's warming the Earth, just look to your own personal health. If you think putting CO2 in the air is a good thing then let me hold you over a smoke stack of a coal burning power plant for an hour.

The same goes for all the other crap we put int he air/water/ground. We simply need to stop because none of it is any good for health and long life. I would think this point would be pretty basic but I never hear anyone make it.


But plants love it - they make oxygen out of it, which we all need. Besides, who likes flat beer?

And no one ever drowns because we all need water.
rug
3.6 / 5 (10) Jul 22, 2013
@ScooterG - Sure the plants love it but all the animals on the planet that breath oxygen breath out CO2. The plants will survive. About the beer comment, that is a by product of the yeast AKA Natural process.

@Neinsense99 - What exactly does drowning people have to do with anything? Yes people drown and we need water. However, look at the statistics and I'm sure you will see most drownings are caused from people being stupid and go out in deep water when they can't swim or bad parenting letting small children near dangerous areas.

Another point is the Human race is grossly over populated. A drowning here or there sucks for them and their families. Over all is not going to hurt anything.

The main point Neinsense99 is the drowning topic was completely off the wall and made no sense for you to waste time to type it out.
Neinsense99
3.1 / 5 (11) Jul 23, 2013
The systematic denier down-voting is in evidence again.
deepsand
2.7 / 5 (11) Jul 27, 2013
Actually, the headline is misleading. It isn't (just) the home, it is the people who own that home.


Al Gore would be a good example of someone living in a large home (over 10,000 sq ft) with a huge travel carbon footprint (as he jets around in his personal/chartered planes). It's ironic that his personal actions are quite contrary to what he says we must do to survive,

And it's criminally immoral that he'd use government to force us to use less energy and what we'd use to be heavily controlled by government force, while he goes on his merry way consuming all the energy he wants, and polluting all he wants.

What is criminally immoral is the lie that is your alias.

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.