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How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

As a chemical engineer, it is imperative for us to care and know more about environment. It is our responsibility to educate those people around us to control the release of CO2 to the air in order to reduce the green house effect and save the world.

This article will show you how to easily calculate your CO2 impact. You will learn how to calculate your household or business environmental impact and determine ways to reduce it.

1. What is a Carbon Footprint?

The term is used to describe a measure of the direct effect our activities have on the environment around us. It allows you to asses your impact on various global issues such as climate change. It is essentially the amount of "greenhouse gas" (Carbon Dioxide) produced as a result of our everyday lives. We produce greenhouse gases when we burn any kind of fossil fuel, we burn fossil fuels when we use electricity, heating and transportation etc.

The term was coined as the measurement of all greenhouse gases we individually produce as a household or as a business, it is measured in tonnes or kilo grams of carbon-dioxide equivalent.

A truly accurate impact assessment is made up of two parts, direct and indirect.

  • The direct footprint is a measure of your direct emissions of Carbon Dioxide green house gases from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation (e.g. car and plane). You will be amazed how much control you have over these and these direct footprints are easily reducible with some concentrated effort.
  • The indirect footprint is a measure of the indirect green house gas emissions from the whole life cycle of products we use - for example the energy used to create a plastic bottle, delivery it to a store, recycle it and so on. You will hear people say that you can decrease your carbon footprint by reducing and reusing - this is because the more we buy the more emissions will be caused on our behalf.

2. So How Do I Calculate My Impact?

2.1 The EASY Method!

The easiest way to start calculating your footprint is search for an on-line tool such as that provided by CarbonFootprintLtd which uses information from the following sources;

  • DEFRA's Guidelines for Reporting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions - July 2008
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • US Department for Energy (DOE)
  • Green House Office - Australia
  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA) GHG Registries

2.2 The Complete and Detailed Method

OK, so you have tried out the easy method and perhaps are ready to take your impact calculation to the next level. You need to go visit an amazing site known as the Green House Gas Protocol Initiative, they are a self proclaimed foundation for sound and sustainable climate strategies and their site contains literally every guide you will need to completely detail and calculate your home or business green house gases impact.

If you want to delve deeper into the detail of calculating your environmental impact visit their resource section, register with GHG Protocol and start downloading the free guides;


You will find a choice between a PDF document with guidelines for producing hand calculations or excel spreadsheets for you to get started entering your consumption values straight away. Registration is easy, it took me less than a minute to register and start using the free calculation spreadsheets.

For example, I downloaded the "Indirect CO2 emissions from Purchased Electricity, Heat, or Steam" calculation tool and filled in information such as the square footage of my home and the number of occupants, the amount of electricity we use in KWh and the Texas CO2 grams per KWh which is provided in a look-up table in one of the worksheet tabs. In less than 2 minutes I had calculated the amount of CO2 my household produces from purchased Electricity!

So what are you waiting for? Get started today and who knows, tomorrow your eco impact might be reduced significantly!

This article is written by guess writer Martin Holland, website administrator for Our Everyday Earth - A Texas Family Trying to Go Green and Improve Our Earth Print, an Eco Friendly Blog About all things Green. If you are interested, you can read their articles at oureverydayearth.com.

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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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