Impact of Lifestyle Changes on CO2 Emissions


A report reported a drastic 8.8% decrease in Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Covid) compared with previous years. This sparked an interest in the impact lifestyle and habit changes could have on the environment. The people have been encouraged repeatedly to cut their living expenses and alter their behavior in order to take effective climate action. Inadvertently, the Covid lockdown provided a “beta-test” of how these changes can effectively reduce CO2 emissions. This raised questions about whether working from home was beneficial to the environment over the long term and inspired multiple studies.

ERA cofounders Sarah Sajedi and Gary Vegh have published an academic article in collaboration with the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). The article explored the long-term impacts of COVID-19, including the effects on businesses, employees and CO 2emissions, using data collected with ArcGIS Survey 123. This blog discusses how Covid’s lifestyle affects the environment and how to leverage these changes in order to support your business’s sustainability goals.

Covid Lockdown: A snapshot of its effects

Here is a quick overview of the results. Before the pandemic hit, employees lost significant amounts of time in commuting. CO2 emissions from their travel time dropped dramatically as they began working remotely. After Covid, 25% of businesses kept the work-from-home model (ERA included). Some industries cannot adopt the full work-from-home model because on-site work may be required.

How has remote work affected job satisfaction?

Many companies have established that their employees can effectively complete their tasks remotely. Hybrid work models improve work-life balance, even for those employees who must attend school events with their children during the day. The flexibility of this model may improve employee retention. According to Sajedi and Vegh, 73% would prefer to work at home. However, approximately 71% of employees preferred a hybrid environment. 78% of those surveyed said that their job satisfaction was affected by the hybrid working environment.

Most non-manufacturing businesses can benefit from remote work. It is a great way to meet your company’s ESG standards and goals. Employees who work remotely support many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, such as UN SDG number 11 Make cities and human settlements safe, resilient and sustainable.

The office is only a few steps from the bedroom for those who work from home. The commute is, therefore, virtually non-existent. The city dwellers have more choices on where they want to live as they don’t need to be near the office and gas costs are reduced. Traffic congestion is reduced due to fewer people driving to work, which also makes cities safer. Include remote work in sustainability reports to quantify your impact.

Can working from home reduce CO2 emissions?

Working from home can reduce CO2 emissions both personally and globally. The majority of survey participants (64,4%) used their own vehicles to commute to work. When they switched to working at home during COVID-19, emissions decreased significantly. Administrative staff can work from home, but factory workers and manufacturers are not allowed to do so in the post-Covid world. The work-from-home model can be used by companies to demonstrate their support for the UN- Sustainable Development Goal number 13 : “Take immediate action to combat climate changes & its effects.”

The average American worker who commutes from home saves 87.48 miles per month. This equates to a monthly carbon dioxide saving of approximately 77.92 pounds. The annual emissions savings from working from home would equal 100 million gas-powered cars driven in one year (or 4 billion miles by an average gasoline-powered vehicle). Although fully remote work is not realistic in some industries, leaders should consider hybrid models that can contribute to a more sustainable future.

Read the study by ERA Cofounders Sarah Sajedi & Gary Vegh to learn more.

The study compared Carbon Dioxide emissions data between 2019 and 2022, using ArcGIS Survey. This quantitative data collection was done in collaboration with two non-profit environmental organizations, the Suppliers Partnership for the Environment(SP), the Commission for Environmental Cooperation(CEC), and ERA Environmental Software Solutions. This data provides useful statistics about employee satisfaction and the impact of the carbon dioxide lockdown. This can be crucial in deciding whether your company should adopt a hybrid model of working from home.


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