Sustainable Putnam

Carbon Tracker

Introduction

Welcome to this beta test version of the Carbon Tracker app, licensed to Sustainable Putnam from our partners at CURE100. Our carbon emissions can only be reduced by your thoughtful personal choices. By using this carbon tracker app, you will find ways to reduce your carbon footprint, improve your health, and save money.

Purpose of the app

We cannot reduce our carbon footprint unless we measure it accurately.  The app fulfills the following purposes:

  • Provides a framework to measure carbon footprint and track improvements over time.
  • Dispels myths about the carbon savings of various measures; allows us to focus on the biggest hitters.
  • Plants seeds in our minds for the time when big purchasing decisions present themselves (e.g., furnace replacement or car replacement).
  • Allows us to track the overall progress of Putnam County towards the goal of 5% reduction of emissions per year.
  • Gives us a scalable and replicable platform to track emissions reductions in any zip code in the United States.

Preparation

Before launching the app, please collect the following information:

  • Google credentials (e.g., Gmail account login) or you may create a Login ID using a non-Google email address by following these instructions.
  • Make, model and annual miles driven for each vehicle in the household.
  • Number of kWh (kilowatt hours, the units of electricity) consumed annually.  You can get this from your online utility account or any single hardcopy bill.
  • Amount of fuel oil, gas or propane consumed annually for heating, hot water and cooking.
  • Brew yourself a cup of tea or coffee, settle down for about 45 minutes, and launch the app!

Caveats

  • Any information you provide is secure with CURE100.
  • Understanding carbon impact is a personal matter, like stepping on a scale.  The goal is to increase awareness, not to feel guilty.
  • The app will make you aware of options, recommendations and rebates.
  • As we improve the app, updated versions will enhance navigation, improve intuitiveness and introduce new features.

A few practical tips

  • You can use the app any time 24/7.  Your answers are stored online and remain available to edit during future sessions.
  • Currently, the app works best on a laptop in a Chrome browser. Very soon, the app will work with any modern browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge) and any platform (laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone).
  • If you get stuck or are unsure how to answer a question, e-mail us at sustainableputnam@gmail.com.  We are committed to making the app more user-friendly to enable self-administration.
  • The app includes the following categories of carbon emissions: 
    • Transportation/Vehicles
    • Transportation/Flights and Trains
    • Heating
    • Electricity
    • Food
    • Waste
    • Goods and Services
    • Zip Code Overhead

Once you’ve answered and submitted responses to the questions for each category, you’ll see your carbon impact per category by clicking on “Results.”  A bar graph shows an updated summary of your carbon impact. 

  • You can also use the app for a “What if” analysis.  For example, “What if I purchased solar panels?” or “What if I buy an electric car?” or “What if I change my diet?”  The app will measure the carbon impact of these potential changes, and discard them by clicking a “Cancel” button. Of course, once you complete any change, you can save the new values and register your progress!
  • Future versions will provide a graph that provides a history of your carbon impact towards the goal of 5% reduction per year for 20 years.

FAQs

Q: Is my information secure?

A: Yes, your information is secure with Sustainable Putnam.  See our privacy policy.

Q: How does the carbon tracker work?

A: The carbon tracker relies on a number of different studies by reputable organizations such as the EPA.  Activities like heating or transportation are converted into tons of CO2 emissions and presented in the app.  The quantified framework is invaluable in increasing awareness and suggesting next steps.  Read this fascinating Croton 100 blog to learn about the history of the Carbon Tracker.

Q: How accurate is the carbon tracker?

A: While we have taken all reasonable steps to be pretty accurate, the intention is not to track every molecule of CO2, but to provide big-picture directionally correct estimates that can guide our behaviors.

Q: Is the carbon tracker only for Putnam County, NY?

A: Yes, while it is designed for residents of Putnam County zip codes, the app will perform carbon calculations for any zip code.  However, the reference numbers such as average household emissions are specific to your zip code. The app (including source code) can be licensed for free to any not-for-profit, and can be customized to any zip code in the United States.  Contact admin@croton100.org if you are interested.

Q: I just finished using the app.  What should I do next?

A: Examine your bar graph summary and ask yourself, “How do I cut my carbon emissions in half by 2030?” and create a long-term action plan for yourself. Contact Sustainable Putnam for a consultation.

Q: I found a bug in the app.  I also have suggestions for improvement.  Can I get in touch with the developers?

A: Yes, we welcome your feedback.  Please contact sustainableputnam@gmail.com.