15 June 2011 – A greenhouse gas calculator has been designed for householders which assesses emissions impact on a range of activities from transport and shopping to heating and cooling.

The Australian Greenhouse Calculator is a program devised by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Centre for Design, funded by Victoria’s Environment Protection Agency and project managed by Education Services Australia.

Designers were the centre’s associate director Alan Pears who created the transport and most of the household energy components; Tony Isaacs, senior research fellow and instigator of Sustainability Victoria’s First Rate house assessment tool, who worked on the buildings and heating and cooling components and life cycle analysis specialist, Tim Grant, who compiled the shopping and waste components.

Alan Pears has worked in sustainable energy on appliance and building efficiency, as well as policy work and public education. He designed previous calculators including Greenfleet’s TreeTotaller and the ABC Planetslayer climate calculator.

He said: “The calculator is designed to be very flexible so a user can answer a few questions and get a general idea of their carbon footprint.

“Or they can go into great detail in one or all of the sections. It allows people to explore and compare a wide range of behaviour changes, technology options and fuel choices.

“The scope of the calculator is also very broad, in that it covers transport, household energy use, shopping (for food, consumer goods and services) and waste issues. So it can look at many aspects of a person’s lifestyle,” he said.

The calculator will also compare greenhouse gas emissions with that of a “typical” house and a “’green” house.

This latest calculator is an updated version of two others introduced in the 1990s and 2001. The previous editions used a household room interface, while the updated calculator uses a lifestyle category approach (such as transport, lighting and waste).

The calculator now includes 11 lifestyle categories, all of which can be completed in either a quick or detailed mode. New is the inclusion of a “food and shopping” category where greenhouse impacts are assessed from different foods and shopping behaviours.

Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Professor Kate Auty will launch the tool at RMIT on Monday 27 June, followed by a workshop. See a prototype version. A final version will be running by the launch date.

The website also includes educational animations, a research centre, teacher resources and a report about the assumptions made in the calculator.