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Benchmarking: First, Know Your Impact - Then Change It!

Green: (ɡriːn) – adj. Concerned with or relating to conservation of the world’s natural resources and improvement of the environment. (Source: World English Dictionary).

We hear a lot of talk about "going green."  So, what does it mean to be green, anyway?  Broadly speaking, “green” relates to stewardship of the environment.  That’s pretty wide-ranging…which suggests there are a lot of ways that we can “go green.” 

But before we can make changes, we need to understand our impact on the environment.  That's why the LEED for Homes program rewards projects that either install advanced energy monitoring systems to track energy and water use, or enroll in the USGBC's Building Performance Partnership for all of its utility accounts.  The Sunset Green home project is planning to capture a point toward certification this way.

You, too, can easily track the impact of your activities on the health of our environment.  And once you're armed with information, you may even want to take action to reduce your "footprint."  Here are a few ideas...

Image courtesy of digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1.       Arm yourself with information about your home’s energy use.  Sign up with wegowise to track your use of water, electricity, oil and gas.  Wegowise’s free wegoHome service will allow you, over time, to track your utility usage, analyze your consumption, and measure the results of any upgrades you put into place.  The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have useful information to act upon.  Get your kids involved...make learning about and lowering your energy consumption a family project.  

2.       Know your carbon footprint and erase it.  The Nature Conservancy has a comprehensive calculator and a way to donate to the organization to support its carbon offsetting projects. 

3.       Erase your carbon footprint when you travel.  Check out Trip Zero, a new travel service that calculates your carbon footprint every time you travel, and automatically offsets it when you use the site to book your hotel. The best part about it?  It’s free.  Trip Zero promises that you won’t pay more for the hotel room than if you booked through another travel service.  For the science nerds among us, Trip Zero also provides a nifty explanation of how a carbon footprint is calculated.

4.       Erase your carbon footprint when you drive.  We can’t all trade our cars in for hybrids or electric vehicles.  But we CAN offset our impact on the environment by calculating the carbon emissions of our cars and funding projects that offset our impact on the environment.  TerraPass has a calculator and a subscription service that makes it easy for you to erase the impact of your driving. 

These are only a few (out of many!) ways that you can better understand - and take action to reduce - your environmental impact.  Another source of information is the Carbonfund.org Foundation web site, which has a page devoted to strategies for reducing your carbon footprint.

The more you know, the more you can do.  Arm yourself!

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