Sustainable living is one of the obvious benefits of sharing housing. The Vancouver publication “Save the Planet, Save the Earth” describes the benefits of sharing housing. (Original source not available.) What caught my eye was the information of the ecological benefits of sharing housing.
The author, Chris Cannon, cites statistics that lead to the statement that if everyone lived in shared housing the gains in reduced CO2 emission would “make the Kyoto targets quaint.” He writes, “Our structures account for the greatest portion of CO2 emissions in North America; more than a third of the carbon released into the atmosphere is the product of electricity from our residences and workplaces, and for every kilowatt hour used in a home, twice as much is lost in generation and transmission. The average North American household produces about 150 pounds of CO2 a day, nearly five times the global average, and twice that of Europe.” According to that statistic, in North America, if you move from living alone to living with one other person, you have eliminated 54,750 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere in a year.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a bit more cautious. When I asked for statistics the EPA sent this email:
“You raise an interesting question. We are not aware of any published statistics on the greenhouse gas benefits of shared housing, and it would be difficult to come up with a representative figure for the savings because there are many variables that could influence the results. One possible way to illustrate potential benefits would be to run some scenarios through EPA’s Household Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator using actual energy use or expenditures from dwellings with just one occupant compared with similar dwellings with multiple occupants.
Intuitively, one would expect to see energy and greenhouse gas savings from shared housing in the areas of waste (if occupants share packaged items such as laundry detergent, for example) and possibly transportation if occupants combine their shopping trips or commute together to work. An individual’s carbon footprint associated with home heating and cooling, lighting, and the use of appliances such as refrigerators could be generally lower in a shared housing situation than in a comparable solo dwelling, but unless the solo dwelling remains unoccupied there may be little reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Also, take a look at the ENERGY STAR FAQs (Site no longer on line) this maybe of some help.
We hope you find this information helpful.”
Use the EPA calculator if you want to actually figure out what you are saving. Use the average to get an idea. Either way, if you want to live sustainably choose to share housing.
Have you done the calculation? Have you made the change to cut down on carbon emissions?