One of the aspects I mentioned as a commonly accepted benefit of working remotely is the affect it has on society’s collective carbon footprint. As the above-linked article demonstrates, the potential green benefits are impressive, especially when one crunches a few widely accepted bits of data regarding Americans’ fossil fuel consumption.
The following figures, which were taken directly from the ZDNet piece, are, as the author states, conservative estimates.
- Americans spend 36.9 billion hours a year, commuting
- Americans drive 1.9 trillion miles commuting each year
- Americans spend $255 billion just for the gasoline to commute
- Americans consume 60.5 billion gallons of gasoline (the capacity of 1,298 Exxon Valdez tankers, fully loaded) each year to commute
- Americans release 1.16 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide into the air while commuting.
Some of the comments I received in response to my earlier post touched on the environmental benefits of fewer cars driving to and from the office. I completely agree with such commentary, but I admit I didn’t fully comprehend the issue’s magnitude. And while I was a bit taken aback by the individual numbers listed above, I’m more impressed by the extent to which they collectively represent such a huge opportunity for major change.
Obviously there are many workers in lots of industries for whom telecommuting simply isn’t a viable option. But as the numbers show, even a small reduction in the percentage of those who regularly drive to and from the workplace can affect a dramatic downward shift in America’s total carbon footprint.
As always, your comments are encouraged.