PublicationJournal Article Quantifying Carbon Footprint Reduction Opportunities for U.S. Households and Communities

April 7, 2015
Publication Type:
Journal Article

Car­bon man­age­ment is of increas­ing inter­est to indi­vid­u­als, house­holds,
and com­mu­ni­ties. In order to effec­tively assess and man­age their cli­mate impacts,
indi­vid­u­als need infor­ma­tion on the finan­cial and green­house gas ben­e­fits of effec­tive
mit­i­ga­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties. We use consumption-​​based life cycle account­ing tech­niques
to quan­tify the car­bon foot­prints of typ­i­cal U.S. house­holds in 28 cities for 6 house­hold
sizes and 12 income brack­ets. The model includes emis­sions embod­ied in trans­porta­tion,
energy, water, waste, food, goods, and ser­vices. We fur­ther quan­tify green­house
gas and finan­cial sav­ings from 13 poten­tial mit­i­ga­tion actions across all house­hold types.
The model sug­gests that the size and com­po­si­tion of car­bon foot­prints vary
dra­mat­i­cally between geo­graphic regions and within regions based on basic demo­graphic
char­ac­ter­is­tics. Despite these dif­fer­ences, large cash-​​positive car­bon foot­print
reduc­tions are evi­dent across all house­hold types and loca­tions; how­ever, real­iz­ing this
poten­tial may require tai­lor­ing poli­cies and pro­grams to dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tion seg­ments
with very dif­fer­ent car­bon foot­print pro­files. The results of this model have been
incor­po­rated into an open access online car­bon foot­print man­age­ment tool designed to
enable behav­ior change at the house­hold level through per­son­al­ized feedback.

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