About the Carbon Footprint Calculator
The electricity distributed by the City of Tallahassee Utilities emits, on average, 1.020 lbs of CO2 per kWh. This is a result of the mix of power plants that generate the electricity, which rely on a variety of energy sources, such as natural gas, hydro, and on rare occasions oil. The city also purchases some power. In comparison, Florida's average emission rate is 1.340 lbs per kWh, and the national average is 1.329 lbs per kWh.
The CO2 emission factor of the City of Tallahassee Utilities electricity is 1.020 lbs of CO2 per kWh, or 135.60 kgCO2 per MMBtu.
- Natural Gas
Natural gas is relatively clean burning fuel, composed mostly of methane, and is usually a byproduct of producing oil. One of the advantage of using gas over electricity in a household are that the carbon savings are substantial. Whereas electricity is generated far away, and losses are incurred through distribution over power lines, gas comes straight to the home or business, and can deliver the same amount of energy as electricity with 40% to 60% less greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas in the Tallahassee area is delivered in units of 100 cubic feet, or ccf.
The CO2 emission factor of natural gas is 12 lbs per ccf, or 53.06 kgCO2 per MMBtu.
Propane is produced as a byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. Common throughout the world, it can be used in households for cooking and heating as well as in vehicles for transportation. Through not as clean a fuel as natural gas, it is much cleaner than gasoline, and its ease of compression makes it convenient for handling, even in small quantities. Propane is heavier than natural gas, has more carbon per molecule than natural gas, and therefore slightly higher CO2 emissions.
The CO2 emission factor for propane is 12.67 lbs per gallon or 63.10 kgCO2 per MMBtu.
Wood is a natural, high carbon source of energy, used throughout the world for heating and cooking. For the purpose of this calculator, a cord, or 128 cubic feet of seasoned Live Oak was used to estimate CO2 emissions. A cord of dried Live Oak weighs approximately 4,200 lbs, and has ~ 2,000 lbs of carbon in it. At combustion, the carbon combines with oxygen to create Carbon Dioxide (CO2), a heavier molecule, resulting in around 7,392 lbs of CO2.
Because wood regenerates quickly, relative to coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels, it is treated as carbon neutral and will not add to the Total Carbon Footprint.
The CO2 emission factor for seasoned Live Oak is around 7,392 lbs per cord, or 115 kgCO2 per MMBtu.
Note: A size of a bundle of wood varies, and can range from 0.75 to 1.5 cubic feet. A supermarket bundle at 0.75 cubic feet would be 1/170 or .006 of a cord, and produces around 45 lbs of CO2.
Gasoline is derived from petroleum and is primarily used as fuel for internal combustion engines. It is also used a solvent, mainly to dilute paints. The bulk of gasoline is made up of hydrocarbons, with between 4 and 12 carbon atoms per molecule. It is this carbon that combines with oxygen during combustion, thus forming carbon dioxide, a gas that can trap heat in the earth's atmosphere. A gallon of gasoline contains about 85.5% carbon, which weighs a bit over 5.2 lbs. When combined with oxygen, it weighs more, and the 5.2 lbs of carbon turns into 19.37 lbs of CO2.
The CO2 emission factor of gasoline is 19.37 lbs per gallon, or 70.88 kgCO2 per MMBtu.
Note: In Florida, retail gasoline may contain up to 10% ethanol. Though ethanol has a lower carbon impact, per volume, than gasoline, for the purposes of this calculator, the ethanol component was deemed negligible and not factored into the gasoline CO2 emission factor.
Diesel is derived from petroleum and a variety of other sources. Diesel derived from crude oil is heavier than gasoline, often containing between 8 and 21 carbon atoms per molecule. Because it delivers more energy per gallon, it produces more carbon dioxide, but since the vehicle can go farther on that gallon, on a per mile basis it is more carbon efficient than gasoline. The high energy content also lends itself to heavy duty applications, and diesel is typically found in work equipment such as trucks, bulldozers, trains and cargo ships.
The CO2 emission factor of diesel is 22.23 lbs per gallon, or 73.51 kgCO2 per MMBtu.
Bio-diesel is produced from a natural sources, such vegetable oil or animal fat, and is used as a substitute for conventional diesel. Bio-diesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids, the structural parts of cell membranes, which are found oils, animal fats and waxes, with an alcohol. Bio-diesel can be used alone, or blended with conventional diesel, which is actually more common.
The blend ratio is indicated by use of a B factor, where the B stands for the amount of bio blended into a conventional hydrocarbon-based diesel. B100, for example, stands for 100% bio-diesel, B20 indicates 20% bio-diesel. Though the emission factor of the bio-portion of bio-diesel depends on the type of bio and how it was processed among others, bio-diesel typically contributes to a lower carbon footprint overall.
As B20 is a very popular blend, it was used for this calculator, with a CO2 emission factor of 17.97 lbs per gallon, or 59.44 kg CO2 per MMBtu.
CNG stands for Compressed Natural Gas, and is a growing alternative fuel source for cars, trucks and buses. Consisting of mostly methane (CH4), it is produced and recovered alongside oil production, from coal beds, and frequently from landfills. To make use of it in vehicles, the natural gas is compressed and stored in a tank. A clean burning fuel, CNG delivers approximately the same energy as gasoline, but often with 20 to 25% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, making it attractive to users who want to lower their carbon footprint. CNG does require a conversion to run in a conventional gasoline or diesel engine, but popular vehicle manufacturers are adding dedicated CNG vehicles to their products, and currently, around 10 millions vehicles worldwide run on compressed natural gas.
CNG is sold in gasoline gallon equivalents (it normally is a gas) and has a CO2 emission factor of 15.2 lbs per gallon equivalent, or 53.06 kgCO2 per MMBtu.
Air travel is a challenging category to carbon footprint, as airlines use a variety of aircraft, the passenger occupancy changes from time of year, the airplane may be circling the airport, or have a tailwind and get there quicker. Nonetheless, by averaging out annual passenger load factors, matching aircraft type with typical distances flown, and analyzing industry fuel consumption datasets, the approximation of a per passenger carbon impact has become a lot clearer lately. For the purposes of this Carbon Footprint Calculator, 3 frequent Tallahassee based round trip distances were assumed and translated into CO2 impact.
Short trip is a return flight to Orlando or Atlanta, a total distance of around 450 miles. The CO2 impact for one passenger in coach is 330 lbs, or 150 kgCO2 per trip.
More information on the methodology for calculating air travel ghg emissions.
For the purposes of this Carbon Footprint Calculator, a medium trip is a return flight to Boston, a total distance of around 2,200 miles.
The CO2 impact for one passenger in coach is 880 lbs, or 400 kgCO2 per trip. Medium trip destinations from Tallahassee include: Chicago IL, Wichita KS, Madison WI, and anywhere in Texas.
For the purposes of this Carbon Footprint Calculator, a long trip is a return flight to Seattle, a total distance of around 4,790 miles.
The CO2 impact for one passenger in coach is 1,790 lbs, or 785 kgCO2 per trip. Long trip destinations from Tallahassee include: Los Angeles CA, Calgary AB, Quito Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, and anywhere in Central America and the lower Caribbean.
For the purposes of this Carbon Footprint Calculator, a Europe trip is a return flight to Paris, a total distance of around 9,209 miles.
The CO2 impact for one passenger in coach is 2,410 lbs, or 1,093 kgCO2 per trip. Europe destinations from Tallahassee include: London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Madrid.
For the purposes of this Carbon Footprint Calculator, an Asia trip is a return flight to Singapore, a total distance of around 20,783 miles.
The CO2 impact for one passenger in coach is 5,775 lbs, or 2,619 kgCO2 per trip. Asia destinations from Tallahassee include: Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Bangkok, Manila, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and Auckland.
The British thermal unit (BTU or Btu) is a traditional unit of energy equal to approximately the amount of energy needed to heat 1 pound (0.454 kg) of water 1 °F (0.556 °C). It is used in the power, steam generation, heating and air conditioning industries. In North America, the term "BTU" is used to describe the heat value (energy content) of fuels, and also to describe the power of heating and cooling systems, such as furnaces, stoves, barbecue grills, and air conditioners.
By comparing CO2 emissions of different fuels relative to the amount of energy contained in those fuels, one can see an apples-to-apples view of the greenhouse gas impact, from energy sources that maybe solid, liquid, or gas, whether they are fossil based, natural or a blend of both.
What is a Metric Ton?
1 ton of CO2 easily fills up a 19,000 cubic feet / 556 cubic meters container
A ton of CO2 is equal to 2,204 lbs, about the weight of a Volkswagen Beetle, or the water in a regular sized hot tub. Ametric ton of CO2 is sometimes written as a tonne of CO2, to distinguish it from US tons, which are 2,000 lbs. A tonne of CO2 is produced by burning 114 gallons of gasoline, equal to a round trip from Orlando to San Antiono, Texas, in an average US car. A tonne of CO2 is also produced by a round trip flight from Atlanta to Rome by a single coach passenger. The average American house produces about 1 tonne of CO2 per month, or 12 tonnes per year. To counteract a tonne of CO2, you can plant trees, for example, which then use the CO2 as they to grow to become bigger. On average, an acre of pine forest absorbs around 1 tonne of CO2 each year.
For more info, read What is a metric ton? (PDF)
For additional reading, please visit the following links:
Disclaimer: This calculator was developed on behalf of Sustainable Tallahassee by CarbonSolutions, using the latest emission factors sourced from Federal and state agencies. The accuracy of the data is the responsibility of the developer, and does not necessarily reflect the official policy, position, or opinions of Sustainable Tallahassee and its community partners.
<< Go Back to the Carbon Footprint Calculator page
<< Back to the Carbon Footprint main page