How much CO2 does an office worker generate per year?

I just posted this to friends on Facebook, and it seems a good idea to share it here too, to help with my search:
Hello internet friends. Would a kind soul be able to help me out here?
I’m doing a recorded 20 minute talk in Feb about the environmental impact of building digital products for a free online conference, http://www.sustainableux.com, and I’m looking for leads to work out a number I want to refer to in the talk.
 
I’m after a single number, for the average carbon footprint of a single office worker, working in an office, full time, including their commute, in terms of tonnes of CO2 per year.
 
I know commutes vary wildly, and that’s fine. For this, an average will suffice, as I’m not pretending this will be accurate, just a ballpark figure.
 
I think I’ll mainly be speaking to an audience based in the US, or Europe, based on last year’s viewer figures, so extra points if the number applies to those regions.
 
I know this figure won’t be precise, and I’m aware there are loads of factors that affect this anyway. To the nearest tonne is probably okay.
 
If it helps, please think of this as a number for all those other places that aren’t where you work. I appreciate your office might be super green and virtuous and you’d love to tell everyone about how much you recycle, and how you’re going to eco-heaven, and how everyone is else is terrible but for the purposes of this request I don’t think it will add to the conversation here.
 
Sorry about sounding grumpy in that last para. I’ll be super grateful and give you a shout out in the talk if you can find it.
 
Thanks y’all ❤

Trying out a vision statement for the Planet Friendly Web Guide

As I mentioned before, I’m part of the Mozilla Open Leadership programme as a Open Project Lead. In this blog, I’ll write a bit getting the vision statement together, and the thinking behind it.

First, here’s the statement as of 13th September

The Planet Friendly Web Guide: I’m working with web professionals, campaigners, and academics, to build tools and information resources for web professionals so that they can understand and radically reduce the environmental impact of the web

About the structure

You might notice the structure. I’m deliberately following the structure as outlined here in the Open Leaders Training guide:

I’m working with [community, allies, contributors] to [make, build, teach, or do something] so that [audience, end users, consumers, community members] can [do something different, achieve a goal]

It follows a familiar mad-libs format, much like coming up with problem statements, or similar when building digital products. I’ve taken clients through this same process for project kickoff workshops, with a few slight changes.

In more detail

I’ll unpack this a bit, and explain the parts that were emphasised in the initial vision statement.

Web professionals, campaigners, and academics

I’m initially aiming this at people who’ve I’ve delivered talks to and been able to convince to come to meetups I’ve run before. If I can’t get some of them on board, I have no chance of getting this off the ground at all.

Build tools and information resources for web professionals

One thing I’ve learned from looking at other organisations is that while it’s useful to just share information or some kind of easy to consume info product (books, courses etc), having tools to validate and help to work towards a stated goal allow a set of best practices to be built into a workflow, so it happens by default.

You see this with continuous integration pipelines, and in web performance budgets, and some agile working practices, all of which are designed to surface problems as early as possible, and variation away from an ideal state.

Understand and radically reduce the environmental impact of the web

We have a finite carbon budget for the planet if we want to stay inside safe limits for living in. The amount of change to how we live and work we need to stay within two degrees of climate change is going to need to be breathtaking – it’ll need to change pretty much every industry we can think of, including the web.

Right now, that IT has the same footprint as aviation, and is growing around twice as fast is barely registering among most people building the systems that will be built to replace the current ones we rely on.

If you don’t know how IT plays a part in contributing CO2 emissions leading to climate change your chances of reducing the negative impact is has will fall drastically.

Is this clear? How could this be clearer?

Right now, I’m expecting to start this project with taking the research I’ve been doing and putting into talks, and arrange it into a book or guide of some kind, but the end goal would to make it possible some way to automate this process – i.e. creating a tool to allow you to check a site against a set of criteria much like how linters and validators work (i.e. Lighthouse for progressive web apps, ecograder for single pages, and so on).

That hopefully should give some more context to it, but as ever, I’d love to hear back to see where or how it can be clearer.

As ever, if you’re interested in finding out a bit more about the project and my progress on it, I’ve set up a mailing list to make it easy to stay up to date, at planetfriendly.productscience.co.uk.

Joining the Mozilla Open Leadership programme

A few weeks back, after I applied to run a session at Mozfest in 2017, the Mozilla Open leadership team sent an email inviting me to apply for the Mozilla Open Leaders programme. It seemed a good way to force me to get my I applied, and was accepted. Last night was the initial remote meeting. Here are my notes, for anyone else interested in the programme, or what I’m getting up to on it.

 

Okay, what is the Mozilla Open Leaders Programme?

You’d be forgiven for asking – I didn’t know about it either, but I’m glad I know now – it’s a training and mentorship program, with an open syllabus of sorts to help take an existing project, and either make it easier to grow into a larger open, or otherwise source project, as long as it fits into Mozilla’s goals around the Health of the Internet.

I’ve blogged previously about an idea I’ve been thinking about, and referring to as The Planet Friendly Web – this is the idea I applied with, happily it was accepted.

So now, over the next 12 weeks, we (the successful applicants) are working through a schedule of events, and a syllabus, to apply it to our own projects, to turn them into something more visible, well known and successful.

This started last night, with a video call with a something like 37 of the successful applicants, and mentors, and running through some activities supported by content in the Open Leadership guide.

37 people? In a single remote call? And it actually worked?

I’ve spent a depressing amount of time in poorly run remote calls, and I’m really, really impressed with how the Mozilla Open Leadership team managed to run the initial session.

I’ll highlight some of the key things they did that I think were noteworthy:

  1. Clear instructions before the call about what to read, and, a requests to test the remote call software (Zoom, and it worked pretty admirably) worked before the call started.
  2. A clear agenda, with instructions on what was expected at each step, using an install of Etherpad. There were also rough time boxes so you had an idea how long each one would last, and
  3. Strong facilitation throughout, and really good time keeping. Even during the section where there the 37-odd people were put into virtual breakout rooms, it still seemed tightly run.

Wait – virtual breakout rooms?

This was a new thing for me too, but I’m really impressed by how it worked. Put simply, zoom has a clever feature where you can break existing groups into smaller virtual breakout rooms. The screenshot below show the etherpad we were working from, the remote call window, and my own notes in Workflowy I made before the call:

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 19.02.33.png
37 people writing into Etherpad, and it largely making sense. Wow

 

For certain exercises, including the vision statement, we were broken into smaller groups to keep things manageable, where the main facilitator was still able to share messages into the individual rooms, to help keep time.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 18.40.43.png
Virtual breakout rooms for remote activities. I had no idea this was possible

After each exercise, we ended being successfully being pulled back into the main ‘room’ with the 37-ish people in there, largely successfully. I’m really, really impressed with Zoom for this, and I’m definitely planning to find a way to use the tool more for remote working with people.

More of this for the next 12 weeks

Given the program has people from all around the Americas, Europe and Asia, I’m expecting I’ll be spending a lot of time in zoom calls and hangouts over the coming weeks.

I was a bit worried initially, but I’m now really quite excited and looking forward to the coming weeks, and meeting some of the other cohort in London for Mozfest.

I’ll write a short follow up post to to cover the first thing we did, and what I’ll be working on next. If you’re curious about the programme or this whole Planet Friendly Web thing, leave a comment or contact me directly.

If you’re curious about this Planet Friendly Web thing, you can sign up to the low traffic mailing list on the project website, to learn a bit more about it and see a couple of talks I’ve given on the subject.