Getting Green With Transport

In the US, possibly more than in any other country, we love our cars. The space between places means that we rely upon driving to get us from one place to another and it’s difficult to find alternative modes of transport for when time is short and distances are long!

Obviously, choosing to travel on foot or by bicycle is a great way to reduce your individual impact on the environment. The thing is, we’re not in to preaching and understand you can’t simply stop using your car. Trains and other public transport are great, but they’re not always convenient, especially if you have a family with children and don’t want to be tied down to specific times.

Whether we like it or not, cars are here to stay. Even if you are a dedicated car driver, there are a number of ways to reduce your carbon emissions and make your transportation a bit greener. As with any environmental action, taking control of our individual impact on the world around us can make a huge difference.


Do you have to drive?

 Before getting in your car, consider whether you could reach your destination by another means. Walking regularly can reduce your risk of heart problems and other illnesses, as well as making you fitter. Identify your most common destinations, and investigate whether you could get there by bus, train, bike, or walking. A study carried out found that on average, people overestimate the time that journeys by public transport will take by more than 80% and underestimate the time that car journeys will take by 18%. Is it really quicker to drive? Travel to work or school by public transport, walking, or cycling once a week. You might find that you enjoy it!

How to cut emissions when using your car

The following tips have been pulled together to give you an overview of how to be more green about your transport, so you can arrive at your destination feeling a bit smug about how you got there…

Investigate the possibility of car sharing. You can register for car-sharing by going online and seeking out other people who regularly go to the same destination as you. By sharing with just one other person, you could half your costs of driving.

When you’re driving, get rid of any surplus weight, such as roof bars or bike racks. This makes your journey a little cheaper and also cuts down on emissions by losing the excess weight your car has to pull along.

Use air conditioning carefully, as this increases fuel consumption by 15% – by cutting it down where you can and opening the windows, you cut fuel costs and assist to reduce your emissions. When you are driving, try to change into a higher gear as soon as possible, to reduce the impact on your engine and cut costs. Accelerate and brake as slowly and smoothly as possible, so that you use less fuel and drive with awareness of the environment.

If you drive at slower speeds, you can reduce your emissions significantly. Obviously, the faster you go, the more gas you use!

Have your car serviced regularly – an incorrectly adjusted carburetor can waste up to 25% of fuel. Incorrect tyre pressure can increase fuel consumption too. Switch off your engine at short stops when you are idling for more than a minute, to save on fuel costs.

All these things can support you to make your mark on environmental change and get you to make a real difference on a personal level when considering your impact on the environment. If each one of us makes these small changes, imagine the collective impact we could have on reaching our targets!


New website available for calculating CO2 usage

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has recently launched a new site dedicated to helping people calculate their CO2 emissions, and reduce them. It enables us to visit the site and work out how much CO2 we generate when we heat water in our homes.

The Trust suggests that CO2 from energy used to heat water in homes accounts for 5% of our nation’s total carbon emissions. According to the Trust, water use is an area where we can make a real difference, simply by taking small measures against waste. Homes, businesses and policymakers can all benefit from this new initiative.

The EST produced the calculator as an interactive, simple to use tool that helps make the link between the water we use, how we heat it, and efficiency. Apparently, research from the Trust estimates that heating water accounts for around thirty percent of an average household’s energy bills.

Simple tricks like taking shorter showers, reducing the number of baths we have, and not leaving taps running for a long time all have a big impact on the amount of energy we use in the home.

The new calculator offers a personalised report that lets us find out how much water we use within the home, and then make the link to CO2 emissions and cost. The site is Flash-based, and takes you on a virtual tour to look around a typical home and identify areas that can be addressed when it comes to thinking about how much water we use, and how we heat it.

Thinking green about water

When you consider the typical home, it’s easy sometimes to forget just how much water we use for laundry, cleaning, bathing and flushing. There are simple and quick ways to reduce water consumption, which supports the environment, reducing processing requirements for fresh water, and also helps to cut down on your energy costs. A running tap wastes more than six litres of water a minute, so even turning it off while you brush your teeth is a great way you can reduce waste and support a greener household.

You can check out the Energy Saving Trust’s new calculator here, to find out how much of an impact your own household is having on the environment when it comes to heating and wasting water – and you could save yourself a few dollars in the process!

Communities Fight Ecological Effects Of Climate Change

Nick from Big Green Smile has written an interesting post on how the Government is rewarding communities trying to stop climate change:

Communities battling to stop the ecological damage of climate change could receive a share of a £10 million government fund.

Twenty successful communities will receive funding from the Low Carbon Communities Challenge, which will be used to pay for energy saving measures chosen by the residents themselves, such as electric car charge points.

If measures put in place by the project are successful at cutting emissions on a local scale then they could be rolled out nationally.

Currently around one-quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from powering heating, lighting and electrical appliances around the home, and this number needs to fall to almost zero by 2050 if the country is to meet government energy saving targets.

The Government also wants to see around 40 per cent of energy produced by low carbon sources by 2020.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, explained that the project is a chance for communities across the county to play their part in tackling climate change.

He said: “The UK has the most ambitious emissions reduction commitments in the world and projects like this will develop the policies we need to be successful.”

Free Program That Reduces Your PCs Carbon Footprint

Supported by Microsoft and developed by Verdiem, Edison is a new computer program/programme that lets you monitor the energy your PC uses and allows you manage that consumption. And it’s free.

Verdiem say uses of its Edison software in the US are saving around $60 a year and 325 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions per PC. Explained in the video below, collectively, computers use a huge amount of energy and if just one per cent of the world’s one billion PCs used Edison, it would be the carbon dioxide equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road. And with PC usage set to quadruple by 2020, that’s a lot of CO2.

Edison is available for free here.

Employers Not Doing Their Part

Employees in the leisure industry are keen to shrink their workplace emissions but need more support to do so, according to new research carried out by Carbon Trust. The results are similar to what has been found in other industries by other surveys – employees don’t think their employers do enough.

Smoking chimney

It found that 63% of employees wanted to cut emissions but need more guidance and empowerment. Just 18% thought their company was doing enough to cut its emissions and 71% said that their employer made no attempt encourage them to consider different ways of lowering their carbon footprint.

Hugh Jones, solutions director at the Carbon Trust, said: “Our research shows that those in workplaces where a ‘Carbon Champion’ has been appointed say it encouraged more action to reduce emissions. You can put in a new energy-efficient boiler, or install low-energy light bulbs, and those will make a difference, but many of the measures that will have the biggest impact and achieve the greatest savings require buy-in across your workforce.

“In the current economic climate it’s never been more important for all businesses, of all sizes, to act on climate change. With savings of up to 20 per cent to be made on energy bills through no cost or cost effective measures it makes perfect business sense to empower employees to do their bit both at work and at home.

“You need your teams to think twice before printing documents, to turn off their PCs and lights at the end of the day, to participate enthusiastically in recycling schemes and to consider the carbon footprints of the method of travel they use and the products they source.”

[Source: Carbon Trust]

Campaign For Tougher CO2 cuts –

Yesterday (or today depending on where you are) launched, a UK site that is asking you to conatct your local MP to campaign for tougher CO2 cuts. The Climate Change Bill is proposing a 60% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050, green bloggers like ourselves are campaigning for 80%.

Canvass Your MP

Many green bloggers were invited to see Steve Webb MP at the House of Commons. Although we couldn’t make it, many bloggers did including GreenGuysGlobal, Greenormal, Turnfront, Beth Eats Local, Being Unchained, People Against Dirty, and TreeHugger who had this to say:

“There’s nothing like a bit of one on one time to convince someone of your true feelings and many British people feel passionately that the UK Government needs to take positive action on Climate Change. Canvass Your MP is providing three easy steps for you to take action.

1. If you don’t already know your MP you can find out by entering your postcode into the Find Your MP website.

2. Contact your constituency MP at their surgery. You can use this website to find telephone numbers and surgery times.

3. As soon as you get a response from your MP, saying that they will (or won’t) support the 80% target, let us know by reporting back.

The Canvass Your MP website will show people taking their future into their own hands, proving that the power of the individual is an amazing force. The more people that meet their MPs to discuss their thoughts about the Climate Change Bill the more informed the Government will be and the more likely they will vote for the 80% target.”

The site was created in a weekend and massive thanks must go to Jez Swinscoe of Make Hay Media for getting such a great site up in such a short time. The site makes it quick, simple and easy, so is it time you contacted your MP and let them know 60% isn’t enough?

US Carbon Footprint Map

Just a quick post, I received an email from Ed regarding a US Carbon Footprint Map, an interactive United States Carbon Footprint Map, illustrating the greenest states & cities. The site has all sorts of stats on individual state & city energy consumptions, demographics and state energy offices, state taxes and more down to the local US city level.

The interactive map itself is further down the page, tables explaining the data are at the top. When clicking on the map you can click through to further details, such as for California that contains an impressive level of data. Worth a look, especially if you live in the US.

US Carbon Map