Measuring Environmental Impact

Green ICT and ICT for Sustianability


The everyday actions we perform or engage ourselves in performing such actions have an environmental impact. The activities may be consuming electricity, driving a vehicle, cooking food, travelling and other similar acts. The amount of carbon dioxide ($CO_{2}$) emitted during these actions is one way of measuring environmental impact. This metric is also known as carbon footprint.

The carbon dioxide ($CO_{2}$) is one of the greenhouse gases. Other examples of greenhouse gases are methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, to name a few. A broader term called Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is also used frequently to measure the environmental impact of an activity or an artefact such as a building, organization, gadgets etc.

The greenhouse gas emission considers all other gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides and others. The increase in the amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases is one of the prime reason behind global warming or climate change. The $GtCO2e$ is commonly used to express the emitted greenhouse gas in ton carbon dioxide equivalent.

Besides the green-house gas emission, some of the other metrics used to measure environmental impact are:

  1. Energy Generation Mix: It refers to combining the various primary energy sources used to meet energy needs in a given geographic region. It includes fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and many renewable energy sources. These primary energy sources generate power, providing fuel for transportation and heating and cooling residential and industrial buildings.

  2. Water Use or Water Footprint A water footprint shows the water consumption by people. The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community. Analysts

    can calculate a water footprint for any well-defined group of consumers such as an individual, family, village, city, province, state or nation.

  3. Water pollution amount of polluted water generated by a community often expressed in litres.

  4. Waste Generation The waste generated by a community and expressed in Kg.