What’s your Emission Factor (EF)?

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Apr 6, 2009

Office equipment in Delaware creates 400 times as much carbon output as it does in Vermont. In Canada, a single kilowatt creates 155 times more CO2 in Alberta than in Quebec, where power is primarily driven by nuclear plants. Calculating carbon output is clearly more complicated than Energy Star ratings.

With increasing attention being paid to the “green” office in Europe, Canada, and the U.S., businesses are paying more attention to their carbon footprints and demanding that vendors help them understand these metrics. Of course, carbon output is only one factor in environmental sustainability, albeit a prominent one in the minds of today’s politicians, businesspeople, and consumers.

Carbon dioxide emission factors (EFs) provide a localized translation from energy usage, often in kilowatt-hours (kWh), to equivalent pounds of carbon output (lbs CO2).For energy-consuming office equipment devices, the proper EF represents the indirect public electricity EF. Simple multiplication can provide an understanding of a device’s average carbon output relative to similar products:

Average energy usage (kWh) * EF (lbs CO2/kWh) = Carbon Output (lbs CO2)

The following EF’s were gathered from the Environmental Protection Agency (US), Environment Canada, and the International Energy Agency via the World Resources Institute. They represent the latest figures available. InfoTrends’ clients can access state-, province-, and region-level EFs — as well as more detailed analysis and implications — by downloading the full report.

Country Carbon Output EF Carbon Output EF
(g CO2/kWh) (lbs CO2/kWh)
Austria

225

0.496

Belgium

268

0.591

Canada

205

0.452

Denmark

284

0.625

France

91

0.200

Germany

349

0.770

Greece

776

1.712

Hungary

339

0.747

Ireland

584

1.288

Netherlands

387

0.852

Netherlands Antilles

718

1.583

Norway

6

0.012

Poland

659

1.453

Portugal

498

1.098

Spain

394

0.869

Sweden

45

0.098

Switzerland

26

0.058

United Kingdom

473

1.042

United States

718

1.583

Note that the U.S. EF represents non-baseload calculations, which should be used for estimate carbon reduction, not carbon footprint.

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