Working from home can cut carbon emissions when compared to traditional working models from offices or even hybrid workspace models, according to a study by the Carbon Trust and Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications.
While working from home had its own associated carbon costs, particularly for cooling and heating needs, along with the electricity needed to run equipment for working, these costs were offset by other savings, the study said.
The study added that employees who were working from home were saving carbon emissions on daily commutes, and also by reducing the carbon emissions generated by offices premises based on their energy sources.
“Our analysis shows that homeworking saves carbon emissions on average over the year in all six countries analysed,” stated the study.
The study assessed the impact of working from home on the environment in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Italy and the Czech Republic over a year. Germany had the greatest potential of carbon savings from a fully work-from-home model where applicable by saving 12 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions a year (MtCO2e/year). Czech Republic had the lowest total carbon savings potential at 0.15 MtCO2e/year.
“Office-related savings are particularly greater in countries where buildings are inefficient. For example, we found that in Italy the carbon savings potential is greater than in Sweden. Italy’s office building stock is less energy efficient and the country’s heating system heavily relies on high-emitting sources of energy such as gas. On the contrary, Sweden’s savings potential is much less significant given the more efficient building stock, a less carbon-intensive grid and the presence of district heating,” stated the study.
The study found that teleworkers were able to save anywhere from 75 kg CO2 emissions a year to 876 kg CO2 emissions a year per worker. German teleworkers had the highest consumption of domestic energy emissions due to working from home at 727 kgCO2e/year per teleworker but still saved 663 kgCO2e/year because of carbon emissions saved through avoiding commuting and office-related emissions.
“In all countries, the potential annual carbon savings from avoided commuting and avoided office emissions overall outweigh the individual’s annual additional domestic emissions, resulting in a net annual carbon saving,” added the study.