BROADBAND AS A GREEN STRATEGY
Broadband, high-speed internet, has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption, helping meet local, state, and federal air quality standards. It has been estimated by the American Consumer Institute that widespread adoption of broadband applications in the United States could result in a net reduction of 1 billion tons of GHG over a 10 year period, which when converted to energy saved, would translate to 11% of annual U.S. oil imports.
Valley Vision recently completed a research project to determine the pollution and waste avoiding benefits of broadband. The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) contracted with Valley Vision to uncover the ways that remote health care, telework, digital learning, Smart Grid and other applications offer "green" benefits to the environment. Reducing the amount of vehicle miles driven, or minimizing land use and real estate space requirements due to digital infrastructure, has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower costs.
Through a worldwide literature review and interviews with experts, we investigated whether sufficient data exists that captures the amount of actual emission reductions due to broadband-driven applications, and whether these savings would be eligible to develop a “quantification protocol” and used as bankable offset credits in an emissions trading system.
Key findings from our literature review include:
- While there are many researched and documented benefits to applications such as e-learning, e-materialization and teleworking, and more prospectively the smart grid, it is challenging to measure the actual greenhouse gases avoided and create enough of a savings to be cost effective and eligible for trading credits.
- Much research projects greenhouse gas emission savings at a macro-level, but there are less examples of literature which document actual measurements at an application level which would be applicable to behaviors and trends in California.
- The application where the research currently demonstrates the most potential to generate sufficient greenhouse gas savings to be quantified for a CEQA mitigation strategy and / or a quantification protocol is the area of telehealth.
- While telehealth is the most promising area, currently sufficient data does not exist to become a CEQA mitigation option or protocol. However, opportunities to close this data gap and willing partners have been identified, although it would be a costly and time consuming process.
- Future opportunities include the potential to integrate greenhouse gas reductions at a regional level due to broadband-driven applications into “Sustainable Community Strategy“(SCS) plans.
To read the full literature review findings from the Broadband Green Project, click here.
Working in conjunction with the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), Valley Vision developed a policy brief outlining the best practices for greenhouse gas emission reductions associated with broadband-driven applications. The policy brief focuses on a subset of the literature review research areas that were identified to offer the best immediate opportunity for high-level impact: transportation, health and energy. It highlights recommended strategies and promising best practices to achieve positive environmental, economic, and health impacts and co-benefits from reductions in air pollution and greenhouse emissions through accelerated broadband deployment and adoption in these three areas.
Click here to read the policy brief BROADBAND AS A GREEN STRATEGY: Promising Best Practices to Achieve Positive Environmental and Economic Benefits Through the Accelerated Broadband Deployment and Adoption.
For more information, please contact Tara Thronson.