New Year, New Project

With the start of the new year comes the start of a new project: quantifying my personal impact on the environment. This will be a particularly interesting year to undertake this project, since I will be graduating college and starting work as a full time engineer. Thus, I can investigate and compare the impacts associated with dorm vs. apartment life, walking to classes vs. commuting to work, dorm food prepared in mass quantities vs. individual servings prepared at home, etc. Also, I will be traveling quite a bit this year, giving me the opportunity to explore transportation via car, truck, bus, train, boat, and plane.

My goal for the first year, 2017, is not necessarily to calculate my footprint with 100% accuracy, but rather to set up a solid framework that will allow me to do that in the future, starting with carbon and water footprints. This will include defining the boundaries of my analysis (for example, scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions), coming up with ways to measure my personal consumption of resources (particularly difficult in a dorm setting, since I do not pay utility bills), and developing a useable recording method. If I can collect enough data, I will estimate my total footprint and pick out its major components. Most importantly, this project is an opportunity to bring my environmental impacts to the forefront of my lifestyle choices and ultimately allow me to lead a more sustainable life.

Long-term goals for this project are to more accurately quantify my personal environmental impacts, generalize this framework so it can be used by more people, and perhaps work to create an app or similar platform that would allow average consumers to easily track their own footprints.

I aim to attack this project in week-long chunks, and update this blog after each week. With this in mind, my plan for week one is to conduct background research, as must be done at the start of any good design project. I will investigate if this been done before, what tools are already available, etc. I will then modify my goals for the project based on this analysis (if necessary), more precisely define the scope and assumptions of this project, and begin my investigation in-depth.

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