Green Garage Ecological Footprint

5 earths

In the United States, we live a 5-earth lifestyle. This means that if everyone on the planet consumed the way we do, it would require 5 earths to sustain us. So when we set out to design our building, we wanted to develop a 1-earth model office space. We designed the Green Garage to be as energy efficient as possible and used repurposed materials in its construction. In addition, our community works on a daily basis to operate in the least wasteful manner possible.

This week Tom gave us an update as to how we’re doing in the areas of energy, water use, and waste. He took the data from our measurement pages on the website.

In water usage, we currently use about 1/10th the water of a typical office building our size with similar population numbers. In February 2014, we used about 55 gallons per person. The numbers for a traditional office building are between 300 and 500 gallons per person. The reason: in addition to our efficient toilets, faucets and dishwashers, we use rainwater gathered in cisterns for external watering.

We measure our trash output every week. In February of 2014 our waste statistics¬†showed that we took out 74 lbs of trash for 95 people. For 95 people, the industry standard for waste would equate to 5,311 lbs.A lot of the reason for this is our extensive use of recycling and composting. And we don’t use disposables, such a paper napkins and plates.

Our energy usage numbers are a bit more complicated. We have 2 separate meters, one for our HVAC system, and one for lighting, computers, and pretty much anything else not HVAC-related. Without getting too complicated, our costs from both meters from Feb 2013 – Feb 2014 were $3,139.12. The average cost for energy per square foot, according to the U.S. Dept of Energy, is $2.27, meaning that an equivalent office building’s energy costs would have been $28,375. So we use about 12-13% of the energy of a typical office building.

In terms of overall costs, here’s a summary of our February 2014 expenditures per person and a comparison with industry standards. We love these numbers!

february per person

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