Much like a human footprint, a carbon footprint changes significantly when different variables are considered. A carbon footprint can be calculated through a number of methods which use data from a range of sources. There are many websites available that offer basic information for determining these results using diverse scales.
I recently determined the carbon footprint of my travel. I flew from Des Moines, Iowa to Los Angeles, California. The carbon footprint for my air travel calculated out to be .48 metric tons of CO2. Now, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean much on a small scale, but as more and more people begin to think about their activities, vehicles and buildings, we begin to see the extent to which we are personally responsible for the carbon footprint. Maybe next time, I will push to connect through Denver, rather than Chicago, if there is a CO2 savings involved.
Taking this philosophy into building planning and design can become a vital tool for sustainable design practices for the future. As we become more aware of our personal impression on the environment, it will become clear that unlike a human footprint, our carbon footprint can change.