Measuring the ‘Green-ness’ of Your Commute with Google Maps

The holiday season has ended and it seems as though everyone has headed back to the office and back into the classroom.

Quick question: while traveling, toasting to the New Year and opening last minute gifts, did you calculate the number of trees it would take to make up for all the emissions your car poured into the atmosphere?

We’re guessing you didn’t. But that’s OK. Because Google decided to do it for you.

Google Maps has created what they call the ‘Carbon Footprint’ for Google Maps. This environmental add-on tool automatically estimates the total CO2 emissions for driving routes suggested by Google Maps.

What does that mean in plain English? Basically, it means that there is a feature on Google Maps that tells you how many trees you’d need to plant and how long they’d need to grow to offset the CO2 emission. The tool reminds users to take routes and modes of transportation that cut down on carbon.

Not only that. In addition to seeing how much you’re releasing, it also lets you see how much CO2 you are reducing by choosing clean commuting. You get a chance to see your daily impact on the environment (it creates a “Carbon ID,” if you will).

The perks of choosing alternate methods of transportation and being cognitive of your emissions behavior promote clean living through clean commuting choices. Insurance companies love when you drive less, and so does Mother Earth.

This is not to say that you must become a carbon geek. The goal is to inspire commuters to bike, walk, and carpool or take public transit. The mode of your transportation, length, and time may not seem like a big deal—but just like climate change, it is. So next time you travel or need directions, don’t forget to compare your carbon footprint while you find your way around.

2 thoughts on “Measuring the ‘Green-ness’ of Your Commute with Google Maps

  1. That’s awesome. Instead of expressing our ETA’s in hours and minutes to our friends and families on the weekend, we should use our carbon ID’s. “Oh hey, Dave.” “Yeah, I’ll be there in about 106 kg CO2.” Or how about, “How far is it to Chattanooga?” “Ohhh I’d say about 3 CO2 tree years.”

    I love Google Map’s traffic analysis. I want them to add the feature of being about to see how much traffic is on the roads at a given time (as opposed to only being able to view it in real-time at the moment). Seeing how crowded the roads are? That’s essentially proportional to the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted at any given point in time.

    And then to compile that at the aggregate level–Google could easily display the level of risk at given times as a measurement of how much damage is being distributed by the city of Atlanta or other local areas. It could be an interesting tool used as an illustration for regular people like you and me and let’s us more easily grasp what kind of risks our daily routines are dealing to our poor, precious lungs.

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