BBC Show Claims Home Working Produces More CO2 Than Going To Office


A home office setup in New York

We just take it for granted at TreeHugger that working from home saves a huge amount of energy and is great for the environment. But Alex Johnson of Shedworking points us to Costing the Earth, a BBC radio show that claims otherwise, saying "a recent study by independent consultants WSP Environmental found that home workers typically produce almost a third more CO2 in a year than employees based in the office." It is interesting listening, especially when Alex comes on, but the WSP study doesn't ring true, and didn't three years ago when it first raised its ugly head.

Dr. Alice Roberts of the BBC show Costing the Earth

The show starts off with the conventional wisdom, that the barrier to working from home is middle management, worried about losing control.

But then it gets into as the WSP study, which was thoroughly trashed three years ago, and talks primarily about the energy cost of heating the house when the worker stays home, vs turning off the heat when they go to work. There is also the rebound effect, where people who don't have to go to work in the office most of the week will buy houses further away, and will use their cars to run around town when they are home. All "anecdotal."

But as commenters noted then,

1) When you work at home OR go to an office, you're STILL going to be heating the house you're in, or left. Can you say frozen and burst pipes? I knew you could. This article right form the git-go looks like the person doesn't live in a place where it actually gets cold. And so really is not looking at their subject in context.

2) For every person that works from home, that's that much LESS land that needs paving, and so that much MORE land that gets to participate in growing things. Which in turn cleans the air, filters water, and provides a bit more habitat for the rest of the beings we share the planet with. Plus too, more green space makes for happier and healthier communities.

3) For every person that works at home, that's that much less gas that needs importing and defending with the lives of our children. I'd say that's a pretty big deal too.

Not to mention, but workers in the UK take transit and trains at a much higher rate than North Americans, who also tend to commute longer distances. The data are not transferable.

But even ignoring the transatlantic differences, and the WSP report, it is interesting listening. Alex Johnson does a lovely bit (at 19:00) about shedworking.More at BBC

More on Working From Home

How to Go Green: Work from Home
Working From Home Increases Productivity, Keeps Workers Happy and is Good For the Environment
10 Reasons to Telecommute

Tags: Designers | Energy Efficiency

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