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Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

This straightforward calculator provides conversions from one unit of energy to the equivalent amount of CO2 emission expected from using that amount.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Simulation/Interactive supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 1 Science and Engineering Practice
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Do an equivalency example for students to get them started.
  • Teacher will need to introduce vocab and units of measure for students unfamiliar with this.
  • Ideas for extending the activity: link to other calculators - this could be used as a science fair project or service learning project for high school students to bring to their community.

About the Science

  • The greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator can be used to translate abstract measurements into concrete terms you can understand, such as "equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide emissions of 183,000 cars annually." There are two options: 1. Converting units such as kilowatts or gallons of gasoline into CO2 equivalents, or 2. Converting CO2 emissions or CO2 equivalents (or other GHG such as methane) into equivalency statements such as "equal to" gallons of gasoline consumed, number of trees planted, etc.
  • This calculator may be useful in communicating greenhouse gas reduction strategy, reduction targets, or other initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator provides a very student-friendly, intuitive interface for translating both energy uses and GHG emissions into concrete terms that are familiar to students and their communities. As a stand-alone tool with no learning objectives and only one sentence of conceptual explanation, its scientific value in teaching climate and energy concepts is highly dependent on how it's integrated by teachers into student learning activities and curricula.

About the Pedagogy

  • This calculator can be used in two ways: the first allows users to convert units from commonly used terms to generate emissions data; the second allows users to take quantities as reported in scientific data or reports and and convert them into emissions data.
  • Includes questions that can be used as extension.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Teachers will need to guide students in how to use this calculator.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Simulation/Interactive supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Cause and effect

MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

MS-P5.4:Apply mathematical concepts and/or processes (e.g., ratio, rate, percent, basic operations, simple algebra) to scientific and engineering questions and problems.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

HS-C2.4:Changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.

HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

HS-P5.5:Apply ratios, rates, percentages, and unit conversions in the context of complicated measurement problems involving quantities with derived or compound units (such as mg/mL, kg/m3, acre-feet, etc.).

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