PublicationJournal Article Spatial Distribution of U.S. Household Carbon Footprints Reveals Suburbanization Undermines Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Urban Population Density

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.

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols present cool climate prize to Riverside, CA

Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols present cool cli­mate prize to River­side, CA


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