As a writer, I am constantly on the lookout for the best eco-stats. Say, for example, I’m looking to write a blog post for Triple Pundit about the impact of a town’s Master Plan. It is incredibly helpful to have a handful of relevant statistics at the ready about the ecological footprints of large lots versus small lots (8% less) versus townhouses (22% less) versus apartments in a high rise (40% less).
These stats are also powerful motivators for people to start green businesses. Clean Air Lawn Care was founded after Kelly Giard, the founder, read a statistic on how polluting the average lawn mower is. Giard, a competent ecopreneur, realized a competitive niche, a better way of doing business, and an opportunity to improve the world.
A friend suggested David Suzuki’s Green Guide as a great reference for some terrific stats. So, for those of you who don’t have the time to read the book (though I think it’s worth the time!), here is a summary of some of the best stats in the book. This post is limited just to the energy and water related stats, though the book covers travel, food, stuff, ecopsychology, and a variety of other information. If there is enough interest (comments posted), I will follow this post with stats on the other subjects.
Energy and Water
One hour of sun is enough energy to power the entire planet for a year.
Covering 0.5% of land area in the Sahara desert with a solar thermal power system could power the European Union, Middle East, and Africa. (Transmission of course, a different story…)
Pacific Gas & Electric recently bought 553 MW of solar thermal power from a facility being built in the Mojave.
Sweden cut its oil-based energy usage from 77% to 32% between 1973 and 2003.
The island of Samso, off Denmark’s coast, produces more power than it uses entirely from renewables. Granted, it has good wind resources, and a population of 4,000.
Houses account for 70% of electricity usage, 35% of GHG emissions, and 30% of landfill waste in North America.
Average home size in the U.S. has increased from 1,000 square feet in 1950 to 2430 s.f. in 2005.
In the US, only 40% off homes are well insulated.
In the US, only 40% of new windows sold are energy efficient.
1.5 million homes and businesses have solar thermal hot water. 94% of those rate it as a ‘good investment’.
Solar hot water systems can save $350 per year over electric.
US per capita water use is triple Germany’s, the Netherlands’, Denmark’s, and Belgium’s.
36 US states anticipate water shortages by 2013. Households only account for 5% of usage, however, with agriculture the dominant player.
Front load washers use 50% less energy for heating H20, use 50% less water, and extract a little more water during the spin cycle, which means less time to dry clothes, saving energy if you choose to use a conventional dryer.
Green buildings have shown higher test scores, higher worker productivity, lower hospital stay durations, higher sales in retail stores, and higher market value.
The one complaint I have about David Suzuki’s Green Guide is that the reference section does not show exactly which stat comes from which source, leaving me to be a little hesitant using what I believe are otherwise perfectly credible stats. Other books with lots of stats, such as Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy, provide sources with each stat, which makes my life as a writer so much easier.
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and would love it if everyone sent him their favorite eco-stats with citations to ScottCooney75@gmail.com.