EPS tool puts emissions in context

GCN Insider

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a laudable goal, but how do you quantify the savings? Carbon dioxide emissions, for instance, are typically presented in metric tons, but how many people have a clear idea of a metric ton of a gas? A new Environmental Protection Agency online calculator translates those numbers into everyday terms.

The Greenhouse Gas Equivalences Calculator (GCN.com/957) relates emissions to things such as a number of cars, barrels of oil or gasoline, or energy for a number of homes per year.

The calculator, which uses the agency's Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID), also converts emission metrics into tanker trucks of gasoline, trees per acre, waste recycling or electricity generated from coal-fired power plants for a year. The magnitude of savings can be expressed in as many as 13 ways.

The eGRID converts kilowatt-hours of electricity generation into units of carbon dioxide emissions and contains a comprehensive environmental performance record of electric power systems nationwide.

The database contains air emissions data for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and mercury.

The latest version, eGRID2006 Version 2.1, includes data to 2004, the most recent available, EPA said in a statement announcing the online calculator's launch.

EPA's online tool shows, for example, that if a typical household switched all its incandescent light bulbs to Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent bulbs, it would save about 75 percent on electricity used for lighting, or about 1,463 kwh a year. After five years, that would be equivalent to conserving 530 gallons of gasoline or recycling 1.6 tons of waste.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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