The Math for Creating a Negative Carbon Footprint
How Much Carbon We Produce
Buildings release carbon into the atmosphere through two channels – the generation and use of electricity, and the burning of natural gas for fuels. In order to determine the total carbon released, we must analyze the carbon from each of these activities and then add them together.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), electrical generation in the US produces energy at an expense of .999lbs / carbon / KWH. Additionally, based on the fact that the average American home comprises 2,386 square feet, the EIA estimates that the average American home utilizes 10,972 KWH on an annual basis.
This equates to 4.6 LBS per square foot.
Natural Gas Usage
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the US uses 5,000,000,000,000 (5 Trillion) cubic feet of natural gas in the residential sector, per year. Estimations predict that there are 125,820,000 homes in the US, and 50% of them use natural gas. Therefore, the average home uses 79,478 cubic feet of natural gas annually.
The average home that uses natural gas is 2,386 square feet. Additionally, the US Energy Information Administration calculates that the carbon produced is 117.1 LBS / 1000 cubic ft of Natural Gas. Therefore, the average 2,386 sq ft home produces 9,298 pounds of carbon annually
This equates to 3.897 lbs of Carbon produced annually for each square foot.
How Much Carbon Our Trees Capture
According to America Forest timeless research, our trees sequester a minimum of 10lbs of carbon per year over a 50-year life. This is a very conservative estimate, but we will use this to ensure each structure is Carbon Negative.
Total Carbon Vs Offset with Trees
The total Carbon produced by each square foot of a home is 8.497 lbs of Carbon each year
We are offsetting this by planting a tree that will sequester 10 lbs of Carbon per year
A 2,368 square foot home produces 20,260 pounds of carbon annually – 10,961 pounds through electric usage and 9,299 pounds through natural gas usage
By planting 1 tree for each square foot, we will capture 23,680 lbs of Carbon each year for the average 2,368 sqft home. Our pledge ensures a negative carbon emission of 3,420 lbs of carbon each year. Over the average 50-year life, we will capture 171,000 net lbs of Carbon under this example.
It should also be noted that these calculations are taking averages of all homes, of all ages across the country. I personally audited my new homes, and found my carbon footprint to be approximately 60% less than these averages on a / per square foot basis. This is due to many sustainable initiatives, increased energy efficiency, as well as a reduction in heat/loss with new buildings. I suspect all new buildings will offset significantly more carbon that they produce in the above example by a factor of 2x.