Carbon Footprint Green Basics
The concept of the carbon footprint is to determine a universal way of qualifying how renewable and finite resources are used up and who uses them. For example, urban infrastructure is exceptional for its longevity but the nonrenewable resources to maintain and make the components useable may be substantial.
Conversely, many short life disposable items may be recycled easily or use only renewable resources. This is the carbon component. Who uses the resources is the footprint since measuring all resource users identifies responsibility for consumption and how it can be lessened.
Responsible use can be achieved in many ways. The most effective is restraining from using a resource or in many cases almost as effective is sharing. The following examples show how footprints change in response to not using and sharing resources for transportation and accommodation which are on average over 2/3 of an individual footprint.
House Family Carbon Footprint
Family detached and attached homes are the least energy and land efficient residential option.
They are also the least affordable.
However, since carbon and environmental footprints are population based, families generate efficiencies.
This diagram, a family of four reduces footprints by sharing.
House Non-Family Carbon Footprint
Under-utilizing family homes creates numerous sustainability problems. Carbon and environmental footprints increase.
Also, by forcing new families to locate to new housing, the overall community transportation carbon footprint will increase with urban sprawl.
In this diagram, empty nesters with two children gone have increased their housing carbon footprints 200% but reduced their transportation footprint by using 1 car.
Apartment Non-Family Carbon Footprint
Multi-residential is the optimum solution for sustainable living for no-children family housing.
The energy and land use efficiency of compact homes halve the occupancy portion of the carbon footprint and the potential for living in a walkable mixed use neighbourhood area can reduce transportation carbon footprints.
In this illustration, empty nesters have retained their family footprint by sharing a car, not having to drive to work, and choosing a walkable community.
Single Apartment Carbon Footprint
Single person occupancy residential has the potential for a large footprint.
In this illustration, a single home owner has a small footprint by living in a small unit and not owning a car.
Note that a single person in an apartment has a twice the footprint of a couple in one of the same size.
Non Family + Family House
When a non family moves to an apartment they experience not only a lower carbon footprint but the financial benefit of downsizing to smaller accommodation. They will also obtain more leisure time and if their move is closer to services they may enjoy improved access to them and a better social life from closer contact with people with similar interests.
When a family moves to the vacated home they have not only reduced the higher carbon footprint but have the financial benefit of a home in a mature neighbourhood. They will also benefit from closer access to services and less transportation needed in a centrally located community.
And the entire community benefits from a higher population which brings in the young to fill schools and use the services. Retaining the empty nesters in a community provides the benefits of social continuity as well as retention of population.
Single Apartment vs NonFamily House
Two young singles can decide to live together in a house and retain or reduce their carbon footprint which will be further reduced when they start a family. They receive the benefit of sharing the cost of living and the long term benefit of home ownership. The single apartments left behind will allow the next generation to obtain affordable and low carbon footprint accommodation until they wish to start families and remain for life in the community. And the community benefits by having affordable family housing filled which will increase the population of the neighbourhood for years to come.
Having a next generation of families enhances the social character of the community by having people retained who know and appreciate the benefits of a mature community. A further benefit of starter homes is that they will be upgraded improving the quality of the homes and stabilizing the community supply of family residences.