“Measuring the Energy Reduction Impact of Selected Broadband-Enabled Activities within Households,” is a new study from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) that analyzes consumer survey data compiled by the Yankee Group on how consumers use broadband once they get connected.
The report, which was issued on Tuesday, June 19, examines the top eight most popular uses of broadband in order to calculate the energy use that’s avoided when people use e-mail rather than snail mail or engage in online banking rather than go to a bank lobby, for instance.
In addition to email and banking, the study examines how people use online news, consume online video and music, make online purchases, store and send digital photography, participate in online education and – perhaps most important – how much they are able to do telework and avoid commuting.
Two findings of the study are particularly noteworthy:
First – and no surprise – is that the ability to telework is what contributes the most to a greener lifestyle when someone gets broadband at home. Telework accounts for more than 80 percent of the energy savings that’s associated with the mass adoption of broadband in developed economies like the U.S. and the European Union.
Second – and perhaps more significant in its own way – is the finding that while the explosion of connected consumer devices and gadgets and the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) increases the demand for electricity, this increased demand appears to be more than offset by the greener lifestyle that results when people get connected with broadband. It’s been estimated that the ICT sector accounts for about 2% of the carbon emissions generated by human activity, while the activities examined in this study of broadband result in a two percent net energy savings.
If you are interested in learning more details, then I encourage you to plan on joining a Webinar on June 26 at 11:00 a.m. EDT. It will feature the lead economist of the study, John A. Laitner, who is with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Larry Plumb is Executive Director of Emerging Issues & Technology Policy for Verizon and co-chair of DESSC.