Is Remote Work Greener? We Calculated Buffer’s Carbon Footprint to Find Out

I wish I could tell you that I have always been an environmental warrior.

But my story is a more common one. I’ve always done my best to care for the environment. I cycle, accompany or take public transport as much as I can. I use my refillable water bottle and tote bags to avoid waste.

That’s not too bad, right? So I reflected, until I speak the 2018 special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change( IPCC ). It is evident that we need bolder, more urgent actions.

“There are no gray areas when it comes to survival. Either we go on as a civilization or we don’t. We have to change.”

Greta Thunberg on the TED stage

As I were starting to build more changes in my personal life to reduce my carbon footprint, I became curious to figure out the environmental impact of my work as well. I have worked at Buffer- a fully remote company– for four years. I have always assumed that a remote corporation must have a lower carbon footprint, but is that right?

Calculating our impact in 4 key areas

In this affix, I’ll do my best to calculate our remote company’s carbon footprint versus a co-located company, analyzing lists including daily commute, bureau space, data storage, use hasten, and more.

Daily commute

Environmentally speaking, one of the most important benefits of remote work is that you don’t need to commute to the office anymore.

The average American commutes to work by vehicle time under 1 hour every day– approximately 32 miles, which equates to about 3.2 tonnes of CO2 per person every year.

The daily commute to and from work histories for more than 98% of an employee’s work-related carbon footprint. Having the choice not to travel feels like a great way to cut our carbon footprint.

Based on our State of Remote Work 2020 report, 80% of remote craftsmen use their home as their primary working place. That be interpreted to mean that 80% of remote workers who would have needed to commute can now walk from their bedroom to their desk( or work from their bed, though we don’t recommends the following )!

For others who prefer working from coworking seats or cafes, it’s likely that they would work from closer discerns which might be accessible by sauntering, cycling or public transportation.

Advantage: Remote work

Office space

How about the fact that Buffer doesn’t have a physical power at all? Does that abbreviate our overall impact on the environment?

Based on the business calculator from Carbon Footprint, office space for 90 beings in California, U.S. is creating approximately 234 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent( also known as CO2e, a standard unit for assessing carbon footprints ), per year- 2.6 tons per Buffer teammate!

For reference, the annual CO2 radiations for home exertion practice per person in an average household( of three parties in California) is around 1. 39 tons.

For someone who works from dwelling, I expect that my intensity consumption would be higher than average because I spend more hour there. Although I can’t find specific data on how much the projected increase would be, we could infer that it would be much lower than the 2.6 tons I would otherwise generate by working in an office.

As a side mention, the “buildings and constructs construction” spheres combined are responsible for 36% of world-wide final energy consumption and nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 radiations. As more beings work in home offices, that should decrease the demand for office houses to accommodate for the increase of population across the world.

Advantage: Remote work

Data center energy

There are other aspects of running an office that are tougher to calculate, such as the power consumed by what individual organizations grows and how. Since Buffer is a software-as-a-service companionship, our major intensity expenditure is storing the large amount of data needed to power our tools.

All the data centers in the US are estimated to consume more than 90 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually- approximately 3 percent of America’s total electrical energy use( and ripening ).

Companies can either house all their functions on their own server that they purchase and have on-site, or move their data to a cloud work. A vapour service is a way to rent server space, rather than own the server, and access it via the internet.

Since they’re not physically located, remote business are most likely to use the cloud, which is generally more force efficient and has a smaller carbon footprint than on-premise servers.

Is Remote Work Greener? We Calculated Buffer’s Carbon Footprint to Find OutSource: NRDC

With the shadow, corporations generally use less than 1/4 of the servers than they would on-premises- a major energy reduction!

But not all clouds are created equal- some are greener than others.

Buffer consumes AWS, which has specified a target for 80% sustainable servers by 2024 and 100% by 2030.( By comparing, Google has already achieved this goal .) We could do more here by questioning AWS for more renewable hosting and moving our server environments to sustainable, carbon neutral regions where possible, like those noted here 😛 TAGENDIs Remote Work Greener? We Calculated Buffer’s Carbon Footprint to Find Out

It’s difficult to estimate exact counts for this section, but according to this organization, cloud server abusing non-green electricity would be 0.5 tons of CO2e/ time and server, and an on-premise or data center-server apply non-green electricity would be 1 ton of CO2e/ time and server.

Advantage: Remote work

Work travel

As a remote companionship, Buffer has one company-wide retreat plus an additional “onsite” for each area per year. These are invaluable minutes for remote crews to meet in person and construct the link that no sum of video calls or Slack weaves could replace.

With teammates various regions of the world , no matter how much we try to optimize the departure places, most teammates it is necessary fly each time we encounter. Unfortunately, air travel has a greater environmental impact comparison with other modes of transportation.

Using the interval between the dwelling of each Buffer teammate and the last two retreat locales( San Diego and Singapore ), I calculated each teammate’s amount of emission using the flight carbon footprint calculator and then double-dealing it( to represent the two jaunts per year ). Based on this estimation, the average emission per Buffer teammate would be around 4.9 tons CO2 for our wander each year.

This calculation does not include other types of business travelings, like conventions and client sessions, is based on the premise that same non-remote corporations likewise movement as much for those occasions.

This is a big hit when it comes to our company’s carbon footprint. But confront teammates in person at least once a year is invaluable to remote corporations. Hopefully, as virtual reality continues to improve, that could be another fun and environmentally responsible way for remote crews to connect in the future!

Advantage: Co-located work

The grand total: Remote work materializes better for the environment

Overall, when we look at the three major categories we can compare with some accuracy using data, it appears that our remote company has a smaller carbon footprint than a co-located company, at 4.9 tons of CO2e per person per year versus 5.8. Daily commute( tons of CO2 per person per year) Office cavity( tons of CO2e per person per year) Company passes( tons of CO2e per person per year) Data middle exertion( tons of CO2 per server per year) Buffer — 4.90.5 Co-located office3. 22.6 -1

Remote companies with less air travel would watch an even greater difference compared to co-located work!

The welfares flexibility gives can’t be measured

While these figures are undoubtedly handy, they don’t tell the full fib. There are many crucial aspect of remote labouring that are difficult to measure, but impactful nonetheless.

Since I assembled Buffer four years ago, the flexibility of remote wreak has free-spoken me to make a lot of positive changes in my life, including ones that align with my importances to care for the environment.

I have been able to choose an energy supplier that proposals 100% renewable energy for my home office, and I can also pick my coworking space based on their commitment to minimize their carbon footprint.

By working from home, I can cook more instead of snacking out- this acquires it much easier for me to eat vegan banquets and select seasonal, regional render- not to mention trenching the packaging that would come from takeaway food.

Since I am spend much more time at home, it becomes appreciation for me to invest in a flat that is well-insulated and energy efficient. I even have the flexibility to wash clothes at a more optimal hour during the day to lower the burden of the grid to ensure more renewable energy is in the mix.

There are many more illustrations from my teammates who have felt empowered to make more environmental options due to remote toiling 😛 TAGENDNicole: “Working remotely has allowed so much more work flexibility so that we were able to expand our backyard homestead from simply a few cases chickens to much better; including duck and turkey-raising, gardening, home-brewing kombucha, and fermenting and canning fresh fruits and veggies. We’re a lot more self-sufficient when it comes to food and make fewer outings to the store.”Kelly: “Working remotely and not travelling has freed up much more time for cooking dinners at home, starting a pollinator garden, and composting. Not commuting too cured me find ways to be less car-dependent and provoked me to sell my vehicle last year! ”Joe: “I used to drive 60 minutes a day for my previous enterprise. Since labor remotely, I’ve been able to greatly reduce my carbon footprint from not having to commute to work”Arielle: “I’m able to cook most of my meals at home, and pop over to my regional grocer to buy fresh veggies more often. I also have more time to garden and develop my own meat! ”Keisha: “From drastically weakening my commute to and from work( and out to lunch on several occasions ), to the decline in the amount of’ employment clothes’ I’ve acquired, wielding remotely has improved my life in so many paths! ”

The flexibility of remote wield sanctions individuals to make decisions that are better for their lives and our environment.

Can private individuals genuinely make a difference? Yes!

Overall, remote study seems to provide more flexibility and opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint further. That feels unbelievably energizing to me.

The climate crisis is an unprecedented challenge for humanity, and its flake can feel overwhelming. But each small change we reach is a declaration that demonstrates those around us that we care.

One young person can provoke millions. Hundreds of collective transformations could incentivize transactions to adopt more sustainable rehearses. Thousands of articulates can urge governments to commit to a carbon-neutral future.

We cannot underestimate the ripple effect of the individual.

So what can we do as individuals to keep the movement proceeding? Here are some ideas.

Stay informed

Awareness and insight are the first steps to positive changes. Fortunately, there is a lot of responsible coverage on climate change coming from major media channels like The Guardian and The New York Times.

To go deeper, books like There is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years, The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, and online courses like the Carbon Literacy course can furnish us with the facts of the case, expression and practical steps to take action.

Reduce what you can measure

As I was experimenting this berth, I recognise first-hand how difficult it can be to measure our repercussion. I came across quite a few immense an instrument for both individuals and companies to calculate their carbon footprints 😛 TAGENDTerraPass( U.S .) offers carbon footprint calculators for individuals, businesses and event organizers. You can also purchase carbon offsets and renewable energy recognitions immediately via them.Carbon Footprint( U.K .) also offers carbon footprint calculators and carbon offset options for individuals and transactions. Establishments has the potential to sign up to their carbon tracking program and monitor their environmental impact over an extended period.WWF’s environmental footprint calculator is an accessible alternative for individuals as it takes you through a questionnaire about your lifestyle, even if you don’t have the numbers ready, yet.Another mode to offset your releases is via Gold Standard Climate + projects that are supportive of local communities with sustainable development assistances like safe clean drinking water, protecting woodlands, improving health or developing regional jobs.Offset your travel

The most planet-friendly option is to avoid air travel as much as possible, and some immense companies like Climate Perks are working on that.

When air travel is necessary, there are ways to minimize the impact. Flying direct is the most environmentally friendly option, since aircrafts burn the most fuel during takeoff.

Many airlines offer fares the opportunity to offset their traveling releases via carbon offset curricula, which antagonize your personal hazardou emissions by allowing you to fund projects elsewhere in the world that induce scavenge intensity or reduce carbon emissions in other ways.

On top of these, airlines that fly internationally are starting to freely offset most of the growth in their carbon dioxide emissions emissions under a UN agreement, which is a positive step.

If you have a hefty daily travel in a gondola, you can consider offsetting that as well!

Share your advocacy

Are you or your busines committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take actions in line with the global targets? If so, “re trying to tell”! It’s not about bragging- it’s about raising awareness and tackling this greatest challenge together.

I know that I is definitely not even close to my own personal goal yet- 2 tons CO2e per person per year by 2050. Nevertheless, by being translucent about the fact that I’m trying, I view myself accountable publicly.

I’ve also attained a superb community of people who are also doing their best- check out the Sustainable Web Manifesto and if you work in tech.

Your voice contents. Join a community or start one. Take a friend or peer with you while you’re at it.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself

If you’re starting to feel devastated at this part, you are not alone. Many of us ordeal eco-anxiety, and that could cause the feeling of hopelessness, apathy or even denial.

The climate crisis compels urgent measures, yet it is also a marathon rather than a sprint. Having compassion for yourself and others is the key to transform despair into the energy for activity. This long-form article by Kaira Jewel Lingo has helped me to befriend my eco-anxiety and find regenerated reasons to take meaningful actions.

Over to you!

Every individual and society is going to have a different starting point when it comes to environmental action, and our expeditions will be different.

There are incredible riches out there, like this online repository of “the worlds largest” ethical tech alternatives, a roster of steers for specifying science-based targets, Greenpeace’s list of everyone’s favorite apps sorted by which are clean( or soiled ), and B Lab’s playbook that leader industries through the process of declaring Climate Emergency.

Are you thinking more about environmental impact lately? Have you quantified your carbon footprint or that of your business? What have you done or are you in the process of doing, either as private individuals or on an organizational level, to combat the climate crisis? I would love to hear your narratives and keep the conversation leading!

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