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Those Days You Work From Home May End Up Wrecking the Planet

So claims a Bloomberg article which goes on to quote a consultant for Carbon Trust, a London-based research group that advises companies on sustainability, as saying, “You can have a very efficient building in a city where people are walking or using public transport. If employees working from home are switching on the heating across the entire house, it will be a negative.”

You can read the full article here > Those Days You Work From Home May End Up Wrecking the Planet.

I’ve not read the complete/original report but, if you look beyond the sensational headline and conclusion, many questions pop up.

The report uses one measure – the carbon foot print caused by workers commuting and sharing energy-efficient buildings versus power consumption by working from individual homes.

To summarize their conclusion > because people working from home use more power for heating, etc, they create a larger carbon footprint and cause more environmental damage.

It conveniently ignores the rest of the carbon footprint that is a consequence of working in a regular office.

  1. Meals taken during lunch > the carbon footprints caused by the eateries and their staff and the takeaway/throwaway boxes, paper and utensils
  2. People who commute on public transport are more prone to catch illnesses such as the common cold > the carbon footprints caused by the clinics and their staff
  3. Taken at a truly macro level, the continued construction of buildings to house ever-increasing numbers of office workers > the carbon footprint caused by every square foot of new office premises
  4. How about the depletion of natural resources to build these glass and steel giants?
  5. What about the carbon foot print required to constantly maintain, remodel and upkeep these buildings and the offices within?
  6. The roads and infrastructure…

Every individual who works in an office block has a share of the consequential carbon footprint.

Moreover, you need to take the total of the totals – meaning, even if the study might hold true for people who live near the office – what about those who live beyond the distances stipulated in the study?

What is the total carbon footprint of all the people working in an office block versus that same group of people working from their homes?

The study by  these experts is interesting – and innovative – but needs more data and stress testing before we can draw definite conclusions.