Environmental Benefits of Working and Shopping From Home Are Questioned

[img_assist|nid=193919|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=300|height=200]Sept. 17, 2010 (GreenAnswers) – Working from home and buying goods online is not necessarily more environmentally friendly, according to a study recently released. The study was conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a British professional body for those working in engineering and technology.

The IET study found that certain actions, previously believed to be beneficial to the environment, might actually have unintended consequences that overshadow those benefits. Specifically, the study found that shoppers must buy at least 25 items in a single online purchase in order to receive any environmental benefits. Otherwise, the energy required to send a delivery truck to that person’s home could outweigh the benefit of that person not driving themselves.

Additionally, the study also notes that buying goods online is more efficient only if it replaces three and a half traditional shopping trips or if the distance traveled to the point of purchase is more than 31 miles.

The study also looked at telecommuters, concluding that working from home can actually lead to a 30% increase in energy consumption. This is because working from home does not spread energy resources across a group, as is done in an office setting, and it also encourages workers to live in the suburbs, which contributes to urban sprawl and increased transportation needs.

Although some of the conclusions of the study are disheartening, the chairman of the panel that produced the report, Professor Phil Blythe, warned “we must not get overwhelmed by the task and use rebound effects as an excuse not to act.”

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