Measure the “Carbon Footprint”

September, 2006

A carbon footprint is a relatively new term used to indicate the amount of carbon thrown out into the atmosphere by a person, a place or a thing using fossil fuels. This community wants to measure and map its carbon footprint and reduce the tons of carbon it spews into the atmosphere. How can it do this huge project most effectively?

Scope of the Study: Count the many ways fossil fuels are used starting with cars, trucks and buses. Include the places that use electricity produced at power plants outside the community.

Method: Prepare a large map of the community and place flags where the most fossil fuel is used. Use colors to highlight dense areas of housing and commercial zones with grocery stores. Research ways to reduce energy usage and create a second map to show a reduced carbon footprint.

What did you find?

The biggest waste of fossil fuel the biggest polluter in most neighborhoods is the combustion engine. To reduce the carbon footprint help design a better, safer, pedestrian experience and encourage non-polluting forms of efficient transportation like electric cars, bikes and mass transportation.

Another huge polluter is the coal burning power plant. First the coal must be dug out, then hoisted onto endless trains and then finally burned. Reducing the need for more power plants by conserving energy and not wasting precious fossil fuel is something everyone can do.

Other very inefficient engines are the lawnmower, leaf blowers and weed trimmer that run on gas.

Additional Projects:

  • Pick several traffic intersections and count vehicles for a day several days a week. Approximate an average speed and miles per gallon.
  • Involve the community with a marketing plan to explain the connection between global warming and burning fossil fuels. Educate and include every group and school in the plan to reduce carbon emissions from inefficient combustion engines and increase energy efficiency. See Ways To Save Energy
  • Adopt a healthy view towards walking and biking because the experience is safe, comfortable and especially pleasant.
  • Encourage using sustainable building practices. Build spaces that use the least amount of energy. Build with products that use the least amount of energy in their manufacturing processes.

Added Benefits:

  • Cleaner air
  • Reduction of the noise from cars and trucks
  • Healthy physical activity in a safer environment.
  • Students experience a community dedicated to designing and measuring the effects of a future not dependent upon fossil fuel but upon technology such as renewable energy.
  • New jobs.
  • Low cost, high return.
  • Choose to become a pedestrian friendly shopping experience utilizing wider sidewalks with planters and benches, much slower traffic, public transportation and sequestered public parking and infrastructure for electric cars.

In New York there are plenty of organizations who would like to work with you.

  • Mayor’s Council on Greenhouse Coordination
  • The Point Community Development Corporation
  • Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College
  • New York Power Authority
  • Running Clubs, baseball clubs, soccer clubs
  • Schools
  • Cities for Climate Protection
  • NY Climate Rescue
  • NY Metropolitan Sustainable Energy Collaborative
  • Cap Carbon in NY Coalition