Carbon Footprint

Your Home`s Carbon Footprint

Thank you so much to Monique Wismer and her team for all of the information about Carbon Footprints. Monique is a Research Scientist at the Saskatchewan Research Council and can be reached at 306-933-7598.

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is a calculation of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product, person, or even a home! To calculate a carbon footprint, activities or things that use energy or fuel are identified and from there GHG emissions are calculated. GHGs include gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) and are emitted from almost everything we do. Heating our homes, driving and producing the food we eat all produce GHGs!

What does the numbering system represent?

Carbon Footprints are talked about in terms of CO2E. To put it simply, this takes all GHG emissions and converts them into an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. This ensures an apple to apple comparison. In more technical terms, GHG emissions are calculated based on the relative potential of GHGs to cause global warming relative to CO2, the main GHG. As such, they are reported as CO2 equivalent (CO2eq). For example, methane (a constituent of natural gas, but also produced naturally by animals such as cattle) has a potential 21 times higher than CO2.

What are the top things we could do in a typical home to lower the footprint?

  • Add insulation to your home reducing the requirement for space heating
  • Seal air leaks by using caulking and weather-stripping
  • Monitor electrical usage of appliances in your home – a variety of tools are available to homeowners to monitor electrical use.
  • Low flow showerheads, high efficiency lavatories, aerating nozzles on water using equipment will reduce hot water and potable water use
  • Drought resistant landscaping
  • Drive less – use public transit, walk, bike, carpool
  • When purchasing or replacing appliances, electronics, etc. look for Energy Star logo as these will use less electrical energy than other products on the market
  • Energy efficient lighting – choose fluorescents bulbs, use task lighting when needed, turn off lights when not in use
  • Replace furnaces, water heaters with the most efficient models on the market. Ensure furnaces have a high efficiency fan motor
  • Use a programmable thermostat to reduce household temperature overnight and when the house is unoccupied

What services does SRC provide to homeowners and homebuilders/construction companies to lower the carbon footprint?

The Saskatchewan Research Council’s (SRC) EcoAccounting experts work with companies, organizations and individual clients to provide services in environmental protection and sustainability. By applying innovative tools to assess environmental effects, our services contribute to preserving the quality of natural ecosystems. We offer professional, reliable and accurate assessments for the purpose of reducing and managing effects on the environment.

Carbon footprinting services assist homeowners and builders to find the simplest and most cost effective solutions to increase efficiencies and decrease costs. In addition, home builders can use the information garnered for marketing the sustainability of their homes.

A visual example

A graphic representation of a home that shows carbon emission sources for a 1,500 foot, four person family home in Saskatchewan.

Summer 2012 Carbon copy

You will see energy use constitutes a large source of carbon emissions for a family and, as such, any reduction to energy use reduces your carbon footprint. Bubbles show easy and tangible ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Remember, making small changes add up over time, especially when many people get on board!