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Assessing a Post COVID World: Energy and Emission Impacts of Telecommuting

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
June 20, 2022

Lockdown and social-distancing policy drove U.S. workers to switch to telecommuting during the pandemic of Covid-19 in 2020. Telecommuting has been widely perceived as a sustainable way of working that reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, existing studies have contradictory results and few of them have a quantitative estimation of individual telecommuting-related activities including transportation, commercial building, residential building and information communication technology (ICT). In our project, we develop a quantitative bottom-up accounting framework to model the energy consumption as well as the GHG emissions of telecommuting. The model integrates the transportation model, commercial building model and residential building model, in which we analyze the energy and emission impact of workers’ behavior change due to telecommuting. The results do have a net environmental benefit and show that telecommuting during the outbreak of COVID in 2020 resulted in a 13% (1 quad Btu) reduction in work-related energy consumption and a 7.3%, 11.4%, and 16.9% reduction in our conservative, moderate and aggressive remote work scenarios, respectively. As for GHG emissions, it has a 14% reduction (80 Mt CO2e) in work-related GHG emissions across the U.S. during the outbreak, and a 8.1%, 12.4% and 21.0% reduction in our conservative, moderate and aggressive scenarios, respectively.

Research Areas
Mobility Systems

Covid-19, telecommuting, energy consumption, GHG emissions,
transportation, commercial building, residential building, ICT

Publication Type
Master's Thesis
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation

Li, Jinhu, Mingyu Wang, Yixuan Feng, and Xiao Guo. (2022). "Assessing a Post COVID World: Energy and Emission Impacts of Telecommuting.", Master's Project, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-50. CSS22-10