How to Make Air Travel Better for the Planet

As exciting as it is to be jet-setting around the globe, air travel packs a significant carbon punch and has serious impacts on our planet. A study by Our World in Data, found that aviation emits just under one billion tonnes of CO2 each year. With demand for air travel back to pre-pandemic levels, travellers may be looking for ways to cut down on their carbon footprint.

Here are a few ways to reduce or offset carbon emissions, whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure. 

Purchase carbon offsets

If you can’t avoid travel, you can attempt to compensate for your carbon footprint

Carbon offsetting involves financially supporting a project that’s working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would emit elsewhere. You can attempt to balance out your entire carbon footprint or offset specific activities, such as flying. 

There are different types of carbon offset projects—all vying to erase CO2 emissions from our atmosphere—including reforestation and conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy, such as solar and wind. 

Many airlines allow you to offset directly when you book your flight—you simply pay a fee on top of the cost of the flight, which is donated to a carbon offset program. If you want more control over exactly where your funds go, you can give to some of the most popular and established carbon offset programs. Climate Action Reserve and Verra, is the world’s most widely-used voluntary greenhouse gas program. 

Reduce your travel emissions 

The pandemic showed us that working from home and conducting video calls wouldn’t stand in the way of productivity. But, while remote work is now normalized, face-to-face time can be necessary. If you can’t keep your business trips grounded, you can at least attempt to find more eco-friendly ways to travel.

While the train is

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The Hotel Industry’s Carbon Lie

(Bloomberg) — Behold the hotel of the future: It’s plastic bottle-free, anti-fossil fuel, and powered entirely by renewable energy. A renovation project, it gives new life to existing structures of concrete and steel, and reuses door frames, light fixtures, and even tile. All of its guest rooms are decorated with locally made furnishings upholstered in sustainably sourced fabrics. It’s LEED Platinum—one of just about a dozen hotels in the US to claim the organization’s highest rank. And it’s the first US hotel to receive Passive House designation, granted to buildings that meet stringent net-zero energy requirements.

When the Hotel Marcel opened in New Haven, Conn., in May 2022, it checked all those boxes as part of a mission to be the US’s first net-zero carbon-emissions hotel. But for all of the ways in which the Marcel makes real efforts to be a green marvel, it missed one huge consideration: embodied carbon.

Embodied carbon is the term that encapsulates all the harmful greenhouse gases emitted during renovation and construction of a building—an outsize part of any project’s footprint.

The Marcel’s triple-glazed windows? Good for keeping heating and cooling costs down, but a massive carbon emitter to manufacture. The hotel’s new, more efficient mechanical systems? They, too, emit large amounts of carbon during fabrication, transportation, and installation. Demolition of old walls? More carbon. Drywall, interior finishes, and bath fixtures for all 169 rooms? Carbon, carbon, carbon—all ignored in the Marcel’s net-zero promise.

“The net-zero objective is for operations,” the project’s architect Bruce Becker tells me, acknowledging the fact.

Given that hotel operations use more energy than virtually any other type of building, including those for offices, retail, housing, and manufacturing—accounting for an estimated 1% of global carbon emissions—net-zero operations are an admirable goal and a good example of the progress properties

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