Calculating Your Home’s Real Cost
Unless you’ve lived somewhere a while and have kept assiduous records, figuring out the financial and environmental transportation costs of a particular location can be difficult. An organization and website called Abogo is trying to make that difficult calculation a little easier. The site’s Google-powered map takes any address and shows how much money is spent and how much CO2 is produced per household per month on transportation.
Here’s how they arrive at their figures:
We estimate total transportation costs for an average household from your region living in your neighborhood, including commuting, errands, and all the other trips around town. We count money spent on car ownership and use, as well as public transit use. For CO2 emissions, we count car use only. We use data from the Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, a project of the Center for Neighborhood Technology.
While there are bound to be a number of variables that Abogo can’t account for–one car households, home-offices, bike commuters, etc–the numbers are telling nonetheless. This author found out that the average household in his area spends $1386 (based on fuel at $3.90/gallon, the current rate at local gas stations) and produces .83 metric tons of CO2 per month. Thankfully, those numbers for my future address are $667 and .33 metric tons CO2.
“Real cost” is a term used to indicate the costs that go beyond a price tag. For example, a $19.99 pair of shoes might require a half ton of embodied CO2 to produce and ship; its manufacturing process might create toxic runoff in the groundwater around its factory; the labor practices that allow the shoes to be so cheap might cause civil unrest, which lead to riots, which cost governments and NGOs money to manage (or squash). Given all that, the shoe’s real cost might be $275.
“Real costs” apply to housing as well. There are financial and environmental costs for our bigger yards, increased square footage and longer commutes that are not often reflected in a home’s asking price. Similarly, we might be saving a ton of money–and CO2–in the long run on the more expensive place nearer our city’s center. If you are trying to determine what those real costs are, Abogo can be a big help.