Telecommuting working models are curbing US carbon emissions by almost 14 million tonnes a year, according to a major new report from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) that argues reductions in travel associated with home working more than offset increased residential emissions.
Some experts have questioned the environmental credentials of increased levels of home working arguing that any carbon savings associated with eradicating the daily commute may be countered by increased emissions from heating and lighting people's homes all day.
However, a new report last week from the CEA entitled The Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of Telecommuting and e-Commerce estimates that even with increased residential emissions accounted for the reduced "energy consumption associated with transportation to and from the office and, in some cases, a portion of the energy associated with commercial office space" led to an overall decrease in emissions as a result of home working.
The research, which was carried out by consultancy TIAX LLC, estimated that the 3.9 million US workers who work from home at least one day a week had reduced gasoline consumption by about 840 million gallons, equal to removing 2 million vehicles from the road every year. It also calculated that that one day of telecommuting saves the equivalent of up to 12 hours of an average household's electricity use.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA, said that while electronics firms were working to enhance the energy efficiency of its products the research provided evidence that communication tools and high speed broadband will also play a critical role in the transitioning to a low carbon economy.
"With power companies looking to reduce electric demand, and our nation seeking to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, I believe there is terrific potential for the consumer electronics industry to drive emissions reductions and energy savings, if more workers telecommuted," he said. "We urge all businesses to fully consider the potential of consumer electronics to achieve these important environmental goals."
The report argued there was massive potential for an expaniosn of home working in the US, citing previous research that estimated 53 million workers could feasibly embrace telecommuting.
The research also argued that new eCommerce models enabled by consumer electronic devices such as PCs and wireless networks could also help limit carbon emissions. It calculated that if half of the 2.5 billion DVDs and VHS tapes rented in the US each year were hired using new video-on-demand technology it would save enough energy to power 200,000 households.
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