21 Percent Of Homes Account For 50 Percent Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Megan Charles

Reports disclosed by scientists back in May indicated worldwide levels of the chief greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), had reached its highest atmospheric saturation level ever – generated from both natural and industrial sources.

Industrial includes the burning of fossil fuels – coal, natural gas, and oil – and is a by-product from certain chemical reactions that are emitted during manufacturing processes.

Carbon dioxide is sequestered when it is absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle, but this removal cycle can be outpaced by the excessive volume of CO2 being generated.

Thus carbon dioxide is said to be responsible for global warning, influencing an incremental but perpetual rise in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, as the gas traps heat like a greenhouse. Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are referred to as greenhouse gases.

Other greenhouse emissions include methane (CH4) – generated from both the production and transport of coal, but also from livestock, and the decay of organic waste; nitrous oxide (N20); and fluorinated gases – which are synthetic hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fluorinated gases are often used as substitutes for stratospheric ozone-depleting substances – chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and halons. These gases are typically emitted in smaller quantities, but because they are potent greenhouse gases, they are sometimes referred to as High Global Warming Potential gases.

A recent environmental study, published in ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, addresses how energy conservation – even in a small number of households – could go a long way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The study, funded through the Competence Center for Energy & Mobility and Swisselectric Research, measured differences in energy demands on a household level – evaluating more than 3,000 households in a Swiss town.

Dominik Saner and his colleagues who conducted the research found 21 percent of the households accounted for almost 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Science Daily reports, the most noted factors contributing to the disproportionately high environmental footprint were those living in open, larger homes – requiring more energy for heating, cooling, and lighting – as well as lengthy commutes in private vehicles. Carbon dioxide emissions accounted for more than 70 percent of the by-product created by the energy used to power the homes and meet mobility needs of those in the study.

There are several ways to reduce independent carbon emissions, also referred to as carbon footprints: Buying local products, being mindful of packaging, energy-proofed housing, shutting off a/c when tolerable, heating only necessary living spaces, utilizing alternative clean energy sources, ditching bottled water, unplug items when not in use, bike or walk in lieu of driving when possible, and reduce, reuse, and recycle.

[Image via Shutterstock]