Environmental Research Digest – July 2012
The report explores the potential net energy reduction that might follow from additional broadband usage within U.S. and European households. The study looked specifically at eight household-level activities or behaviors that are enabled or enhanced by the use of broadband Internet access, and that might also replace a more energy-intensive set of conventional activities.
- Online activities can save energy and cut CO2 emissions in the United States and Europe by millions of metric tons annually.
- Telecommuting provided the largest energy benefit across the EU-5 and United States, generating about 83 to 86 percent of net energy savings, respectively.
- Telecommuting practices may also have a significantly greater level of market benefit compared to other activities because additional benefits such as reduced driving time and more time with family and friends may accelerate market penetration to a greater degree than other ICT-related activities.
- The areas of least savings were online news and e-education.
- In these cases, consumers are likely to continue old practices, such as reading a newspaper, while adopting new broadband-enabled activities.
- This study affirms the net positive energy savings potential associated with the use of ICT and broadband technologies.
- But it also highlights the need for enabling a policy environment that encourages the investment and the use of broadband services throughout the entire economy.
- Many of the services that may seem individually small—for example, reading the daily paper or doing online banking—could generate a more compelling level of energy savings if the activities were actively scaled up to whole communities or entire cities as part of a rebuilding of an economy’s infrastructure.