Sustainable Putnam

Carbon Tracker

Introduction

Sustainable Putnam has partnered with CURE100 to bring you this Carbon Tracker App — a powerful tool designed to help you see and reduce your personal and household contribution to global warming. While we also need new government policies, each of us also needs to make dramatic changes to our way of life. The good news is that we already have the knowledge and tools to eliminate our carbon emissions, and doing so will also improve our health, and save money!

Purpose of the app

  • 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 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 and/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.
  • Future updates will introduce new features, enhance navigation, and improve intuitiveness.

A few practical tips

  • 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.  
  • In each category, you will answer some questions, then click on “Results” to see a bar graph illustrating your carbon impact.
  • You can use the app for “What if” analysis, e.g., “What if I switch to an electric vehicle” or “What if I changed my diet.” You can estimate the carbon impact of these options. Click “Cancel” to revert to your true carbon impact. If you make the proposed change, click “Save” and feel good about your progress!
  • Future releases of the app, we will provide a graph that shows you the history of your ever-decreasing carbon impact.
  • Currently, the app works best on a laptop in a Chrome browser. Very soon, the app will work with numerous browsers (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Bing) and any platform (laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone).
  • If you get stuck or are unsure how to answer a question, e-mail us at admin@croton100.org.  We are committed to making the app more user-friendly to enable self-administration.

FAQs

Q: Is my information secure?
A: Yes, your information is secure with CURE100.  See our privacy policy.

Q: How does the carbon tracker work?
A: The carbon tracker relies on a number of different studies by reputed organizations like the EPA.  Activities like heating or transportation are converted into tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions and presented in the app.  The quantified framework is invaluable in increasing awareness and suggesting next steps.  Read this blog to learn about the history of and source for the Carbon Tracker.

Q: How accurate is the carbon tracker?
A: While we strive for accuracy, our intention is not to track every molecule of CO2e, but to provide reasonably accurate estimates that can guide our decisions.

Q: Is the Carbon Tracker available to other organizations?
A: No.  While it was initially designed for residents of Croton-on-Hudson, NY, the app will perform carbon calculations for any of the 42,000 zip codes in the United States.  The app can be licensed for free to any not-for-profit, and can be customized to any zip code in the United States.  Contact us at admin@croton100.org, if you are interested.

Q: I just finished using the app.  What should I do next?
A: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Examine your bar graph summary and ask yourself, “What one step can I take to cut my carbon emissions?” Once you’ve completed that step, come back to the carbon tracker, log your progress, and choose another. Or create a long-term action plan for yourself in the My Carbon section of the app.

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 us at admin@croton100.org