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Step-by-Step

In this Section

Part 1— Define your dream trip

Part 2— Determine the total greenhouse gases emitted for your trip

Part 3— Evaluate ways to reduce your GHG emissions

Part 4— Analyze the impact of your trip on your total GHG emissions and report your results

Part 5— Integrate your results into a Google Earth file to illustrate your results (optional per teacher instructions)

Part 1—Define your Dream Trip

  • Select a Starting point, Destination, Number people who travel
  • Define your itinerary (stops on your trip, modes of transportation for each leg of your trip)
  • Open the MS Excel Spreadsheet to begin entering information for your travels (columns A and B)
  • Estimate miles travelled for each leg of your trip and add to the spreadsheet (Column C) (this can also be done directly through Google Earth, but with less accuracy)

Part 2— Determine the total greenhouse gases emitted for your trip

  • Determine the gallons of fuel required for the legs of your trip that you drive:
    • Estimate the fuel economy of the automobile you will be driving from http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ (or use the current national average for passenger cars – 22.6 MPG)
    • Create an equation in your spreadsheet to calculate the gallons of fuel required (orange cells, column E)

Gasoline consumed (gal) = vehicle miles travelled (miles) / fuel economy of the vehicle (miles/gal)

  • Enter emission factors for the specific transportation methods into the spreadsheet (yellow cells, Columns J, N, P)
  • Calculate the emissions for each leg of your trip
    • Create an equation in the spreadsheet to estimate the emissions for each of the three greenhouse gases (orange cells in columns K, N, Q)

Emission = activity X emission factor

 

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    • The “activities” are passenger miles (bus, plane, rail) or gallons of fuel consumed (passenger car).
  • Add an equation to your spreadsheet (column S) to convert all GHG emissions into carbon dioxide equivalents (Note – the GWPs are included in row 16):

Total GHG emissions = CO2 Emissions
+ CH4Emissions
X GWPCH4
+ N2O Emissions
X GWPN2O

  • Calculate both the total emissions for all of your travelers and the per person average emissions. Note that “passenger miles” should be added for each individual.  The vehicle miles are already the total for all of the passengers in the vehicle.
  • Evaluate your results and answer the following questions within the text box of the spreadsheet:
    •  Which GHG contributes most to your total CO2 equivalents? (CO2, CH4 or N2O)  Is this what you expected?
    • Which leg of your trip contributes most to the greenhouse gas emissions?
    • How do your emissions for this trip compare to your annual total greenhouse gas emissions?  (you can use results of a personal GHG calculator (e.g., http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx ) or compare to the U.S. average ~19 metric tons CO2 eq./person/year; Global average ~4 mt CO2 eq./person/year; or a global goal  ~2 mt CO2 eq./person/year )

Part 3— Evaluate ways to reduce your GHG emissions

  • Use the analysis of the primary contributions to your total emissions to identify changes in your dream vacation plans.  This could include changes in your destination or mode of travel.
  • Copy your completed spreadsheet and create a new version of the spreadsheet within your workbook. (Select entire spreadsheet (Ctrl-A); click on “Sheet 2” click on cell “A1” and paste your selection (Ctrl-V))
    (Note – second sheet for your second itinerary has already been created.  However, you will have to recreate your equations if you use this sheet rather than copying and pasting your already completed sheet.)
  • Repeat part 2 above – although calculation cells now created, you only have to edit the appropriate cells in your new worksheet to change miles for your destination of GHGs from a different mode of travel.
  • Answer questions as posed above in Part 2.  Evaluate the benefits of changing your destination or mode of travel.
  • Write a short report (at least three paragraphs) to summarize what you did (introduction of your trip and desire to calculate GHG emissions, general methods, and findings). Include tables of final results to help explain your findings and comparison.

Part 4— Analyze the impact of your trip on your total GHG emissions and report your results

  • Answer questions as posed above in Part 2.  Evaluate the benefits of changing your destination or mode of travel.
  • Write a short report (at least three paragraphs) to summarize what you did (introduction of your trip and desire to calculate GHG emissions, general methods, and findings). Include tables of final results to help explain your findings and comparison.

Part 5— Integrate your results into a Google Earth file

  • Open the Google Earth tutorial and Google earth
  • Create a new folder under your “My Places” section of Google Earth for this project.
  • Follow tutorial directions for adding pushpins to the major destinations of your trip and make a path to connect your destinations.
  • Add details to the pushpin information balloons that describe your destination, distance and mode of travel and the GHG emissions that result from the traveling.  If you consider a second destination, add pushpins, information balloons and a path for your alternative trip too and save to your My Places folder.