Measuring Sustainability in Gallons of Gasoline

Nov 16, 2011 5:31 PM ET
Campaign: CSR Blogs

Posted by Antonio Pasolini

Corporations and individuals face a challenge when they have to decide on the best solutions to improve their sustainability: how to measure with precision their impact on the environment.

In order to help solve this problem, Zik Energy Points has developed a qualification system based on the amount of energy consumed over the ful lifespan of a process or object.

The unit of measurement is the amount of energy embodied in one gallon of gasoline, which the company calls Energy Point. It works like diet points applied to the concept of sustainability. Power generation, buildings, manufacturing processes, water, waste or anything that consumes energy can be measured using Energy Points. The company says the method is easy to understand because "people understand the cost and characteristics of gasoline intuitively."

Water is quantified as energy by incorporating all of the energy needed to extract the water, including the infrastructure, while factoring in the embodied energy of the infrastructure and the geographical scarcity of water. For instance, water production, distribution and treatment use less energy in Minnesota than New Mexico, even though water costs less in New Mexico. Similarly, a solar energy panel is more efficient in Arizona than Seattle because it receives larger amounts of sunlight. Electricity generated in California is more efficient because of the heavier mix of renewable resources compared to Kentucky where coal is used.

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Antonio Pasolini is a Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans. A media graduate with a specialization in film and TV, Antonio Pasolini is the editor of, a top web destination for alternative energy products, news and commentary. With more than a decade's experience in journalism, Antonio has written on a wide range of topics, from technological breakthroughs by the brains at MIT to a trip to sustainable projects in the Amazon. One of his new projects involves an eco print magazine to be distributed from a selection of London shops.