Whitepaper | Estimating Energy Consumption & GHG Emissions for Remote Workers

The Environmental Impacts of Remote Work

There is no doubt that our world has seen many fundamental changes in the last year, including the resulting impacts of coronavirus on carbon emissions. Since March 2020, many workers around the world have moved to remote work from their homes due to mandated (or voluntary) closures of businesses driven by the global COVID-19 pandemic. In response, some organizations have strategically decreased their real estate footprint while actively encouraging more staff to work remotely.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) 2020 Global Energy Report, these recent changes have led to a decrease in commercial energy consumption and an increase in residential energy use. The IEA collected data from more than 30 countries that showed a correlation between lockdown measures and significant reductions in commercial and industrial electricity demand.

Calculating Energy Use and Emissions from Home Working

As businesses continue to determine the environmental and financial impacts of this shift to remote work, estimating the carbon footprint, energy use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of working from home is a new activity with little or no precedent although brief reference within the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Value Chain Standard on Employee Commuting. Most companies have not included these ‘commute’ emissions to date in their annual GHG inventories.

While other organizations have published case studies and comparisons on the environmental impacts of remote work using different methodologies and assumptions, Anthesis has developed guidance on data collection and calculation approaches that may be broadly integrated into corporate inventory management processes.