Footprint Renovations

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MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO:  Carbon footprint of a home

Episode09 copy

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

  1. What is a carbon footprint?
  2. What does this have to do with climate change?
  3. What activities that you do contribute to your carbon footprint?

Focus:

  1. What actions did the Green Ninja take to reduce the size of the man’s feet?
  2. Why does replacing water bottles with a filter reduce the carbon footprint?
  3. Why did they Green Ninja break the trash can into three bins?

Follow-up:

  1. What actions could you take at your home to reduce your carbon footprint?
  2. What actions could be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of your school?
  3. How can you encourage others (family, friends, etc.) to reduce their footprint?

ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

  1. A carbon footprint is a measure of carbon emissions related to a particular action, such as driving, using electricity, food production etc.  For example, driving a car 20 miles requires burning gasoline, which emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Having a light bulb on for an hour requires a power plant to generate electricity that typically comes from the burning of fossil fuels.
  2. The Earth’s climate over the last 50 years has been warming due to increases in carbon dioxide emissions.  As more carbon goes into the atmosphere, scientists expect the Earth to warm further.
  3. Responses may vary. Anything that uses energy directly, or buying things that required energy use for their manufacturing, transportation, etc.

Focus:

  1. The Green Ninja a) replaces an incandescent light bulb with an energy efficient light bulb, b) sorts the trash into separate bins for recycling and composting, c) replaces processed food in the fridge with fresh, low carbon options, d) replaces single-use water bottles with a water filter, e) turns down the thermostat, f) replaces an electric heater with an energy efficient heat pump, g) turns off the sprinklers, h) closes the drapes, i) switches off electronic equipment when not in use…etc.
  2. Plastic water bottles are made using fossil fuels and they require energy to manufacture for a single use.  The water bottles also need to be transported to the store and the home.  A water filter is far more efficient because it produces filtered water at home and the water can be dispensed in a reusable container.
  3. Reducing your waste stream reduces your carbon footprint because less materials have to be hauled to the landfill. Furthermore, recycling uses less energy than making new things out of virgin materials, and composting keeps organics out of the landfill, where they would only rot and create methane emissions (methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide), and be used to create nutrient-rich materials that could be used in a garden or farm.

Follow-up:

  1. Student responses could vary, since there are many ways to reduce energy use at home.  Anything that conserves energy, such as switching off lights, or using energy efficient appliances, would reduce the carbon footprint.
  2. Student responses could vary, since there are many ways to reduce energy use at school.  Anything that conserves energy, such as keeping the thermostat low in the winter and high in the summer, or using energy efficient equipment, would reduce the carbon footprint.
  3. Responses may vary. Informing others is a powerful tool, sharing this activity and the results with family and friends and asking them to do something similar to create awareness.

ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES:

  1. Why did the Green Ninja replace the heater with a heat pump?

electric heaterheat pump

The left image is a typical electric heater, or a resistance heater, that isn’t very efficient and therefore is expensive to run.  The right image is an electric heat pump that actually takes heat from the outside air and pumps it inside.  This works in a manner similar to a refrigerator, but in reverse.  More details about a heat pump are given here. http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/heat-pump-systems

  • Other examples:  LED lighting, phantom loads (or energy vampires), food choices etc.
  • Links with sustainability.  Thinking of the three E’s of sustainability (Environment, Economics and Equity), although the primary focus of the video is on conserving energy to protect the environment, these practices will also save the resident money and may also make the resident more comfortable in their home.

ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES:

  1. Students can calculate their own footprint and explore things they can do to reduce it.
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