Go Green…Reuse is Recycling

On Earth Day, Friday, April 22, 2011, we launched a carbon-footprint savings tool that will quantify carbon savings that can be attributed to reusing property.

The carbon-footprint savings tool was developed by Cooler, Inc., a for-profit social venture whose mission is to connect every purchase to a solution for global warming. Cooler's carbon calculation technology is based on peer-reviewed economic input-output models and analysis developed by OpenIO, and at Carnegie-Mellon University, UC Berkeley, and research institutions around the world. Since 2008, Cooler has worked to help eBay document the environment and energy benefits of reuse.

The carbon-footprint savings tool is included in this site, www.gsaauctions.gov, and all of our other reuse systems including GSAXcess®, Computers for Learning, and the Agency Asset Management System [AAMS]. It’s a tool that we will make available and requires no effort on your part. When you review an item on GSA Auctions℠ for sale, the record will be sent to Cooler for processing through its carbon-footprint calculator. Cooler will then send the results from the calculator to GSA in grams of carbon savings. This is totally automated and is virtually instantaneous; I want to assure you that it will not have any impact on our processing timeline. Using a table provided by Cooler, we will then translate the carbon savings into 23 equivalencies [click here for a listing and explanation of the equivalencies]. In GSA Auctions℠, the equivalencies will appear on the Item Description Pages.

The postings will be below the photo of the item and headed by a green banner with white text saying, “Go Green…Reuse is Recycling!” Below the banner will be a script that says, “Reusing this item instead of buying new is like saving the carbon equivalent of ...”. Each of the 23 equivalencies can be selected from a drop down. “Gallons of Gasoline Used” is the default equivalency, and each equivalency will be displayed with a graphic representation. For example, “Gallons of Gasoline Used” will display a graphic representation of a gasoline pump. Airline flights will show a graphic representation of an ascending airplane. You can select the equivalency which has the most meaning for you. As you select an equivalency, the page will automatically refresh showing the calculation for the selected equivalency.

At this time, we do not have carbon savings for every item offered in our systems. Currently, the Cooler calculator is matching 75% or more of the assets we report to them with savings. Cooler is aggressively working to improve their matching performance by adding to their calculator those Federal Supply Classes that we have identified to them as priority.

We are proud to announce our carbon-footprint savings addition to our reuse applications. Traditionally, our reuse programs, most especially utilization and donation, have only been evaluated in terms of cost savings. Carbon-footprint savings provide a new, exciting way of looking at the value of excess, surplus, and exchange/sale property. We believe that identifying these carbon savings will encourage federal and state agencies and the general public to turn to reuse as a preferred, environmentally-friendly solution to the disposal of federal assets at the end of life.

Explanation of Carbon Equivalencies

Equivalency
Equivalency Shows
Equivalency is based on: Pounds of carbon generated by --
Long Flight Miles
Number of miles
Producing and "burning" the jet fuel needed to power an aircraft one mile on a long trip.
Short-hop Flight Miles
Number of miles
Producing and "burning" the jet fuel needed to power an aircraft one mile on a short trip.
BOS-DC round trips
Number of round trips
Producing and "burning" the jet fuel needed to power an aircraft from the Boston Airport to an airport in Washington, D.C. and back.
SFO-LAX round trips
Number of round trips
Producing and "burning" the jet fuel needed to power an aircraft from the San Francisco Airport to the airport in Los Angeles and back.
NYC-PAR roundtrips
Number of round trips
Producing and "burning" the jet fuel needed to power an aircraft from New York City to the Paris Airport and back.
Miles Driven
Number of miles
Producing and "burning" the gasoline needed to drive a car for one mile.
Years of Driving a Car
Number of years
Producing and "burning" gasoline needed to drive one car in one year.
Gallons of Gasoline Used
Number of gallons
Producing and "burning"one gallon of gasoline.
Days Energy for an Average Household
Number of days
Producing and consuming the energy required by an average household in one day.
Years Avg Household Energy
Number of years
Producing and consuming the energy required by an average household in one year.
Washing Machine Loads
Number of loads
Produing and consuming the electrical energy needed to power a washing machine for one load.
Dishwasher Loads
Number of loads
Producing and consuming the energy required to power a dishwasher for one load.
Days of Refrigerator Use
Number of days
Producing and consuming the energy required to power a refrigerator for one day.
Hours Laptop Use
Number of hours
Producing and consuming the energy required to power a laptop computer for one hour.
Hours Desktop Computer Use
Number of hours
Producing and consuming the energy required to power a desktop computer for one hour.
Hours of cell phone use
Number of hours
Producing and consuming the battery energy needed to fuel cell phone use for one hour.
Hours TV (27")
Number of hours
Producing and consuming the energy needed to power the TV for one hour.
Hours Listening to Stereo
Number of hours
Producing and consuming the energy needed to power the stereo for one hour.
Trees growing for a year
Number of trees
One tree in a single year through a process called sequestration.
Trees
Number of trees
A 50-year old tree through a process called sequestration.
Acres of tree growth for a year
Number of acres
One acre of trees for one year through a process called sequestration.
Acres of trees
Number of acres
One acre of trees.
Days of Cow Methane
Number of days
cow methane in one day.

Note:
1) Reuse reduces carbon footprint in two critical ways. First, the used item delays the carbon emissions of new purchases. Second, the reuse item delays production of new products."
2) The relationship between pounds of carbon produced and one unit of the equivalency is based on averages.
3) Carbon storage (sequestration) occurs in forests primarily through the natural process of photosynthesis. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is taken up through tiny openings in leaves and incorporated as carbon into the woody biomass of trees. Roughly half of this biomass is carbon.
4) "producing and consuming" :
"producing " refers to the process of production of the equivalency. For example, the process of drilling for oil and refining it into gasoline. Or the manufacture of a diswasher or TV.
"consuming" and "burning" refer to the process of using the item produced.