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Is Telecommuting Really Green?

In the last blog-post we covered the advantages and challenges of telecommuting. Today, we will discuss if working from home is really more Earth-friendly. 
Even though how much carbon dioxide you save from working at home depends on how far you live from work, how you get there and the climate you live in, among other factors, there are some researches that by making some assumptions found out very interesting results.
According to Slate, a daily magazine on the Web, an average employee working from home instead of driving to the office saves approximately 4,900 pounds of CO2 each year. However, because people tend to do extra things when working from home, such as running household appliances, taking trips to the grocery store and watching TV, telecommuters tend to break even. (1) 
Another research confirmed the same theory (2). 
  • The American Community Survey concluded that 86% of the nation’s workers drive to work, which ends up producing 20.9 pounds of CO2 per day. Due to the fact that average employee works 235 days per year, the annual output of his commute is 4,890 pounds of CO2. 
  • This survey states that the workplace is a more energy-efficient work environment than the average American home. First, because less air has to be heated or cooled. Second, office workers share certain equipment, like printers and fax machines. At home, you’re probably running your own peripherals (4.9 pounds of CO2 per day compared to 0,9 at the office). 
  • In addition, people who work at home tend to do energy-intensive things they probably wouldn’t do if working at the office. According to a study Erasmia Kitou and Arpad Horvath at University of California-Berkeley Kitou and Harvath, the carbon emissions associated with these extracurricular is around 6.6 pounds of CO2 per day. 
Although it is difficult to quantify the environmental benefits of telecommuting, other great benefits of working at home, such as employee’s retention and increase productivity, could be taken into consideration when analyzing the consequences of implementing this innovative way of doing business. 
Sources
(2)http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/09/how_green_is_telecommuting.html

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