Posted by Derek on Monday, October 04, 2010.

Back From JRubyConf

I just got back from JRubyConf in Columbus, Ohio. I had a great time meeting other Rubyists and learned a great deal about how Ruby is being integrated into enterprise environments via JRuby. It’s really exciting to see “the big guys” embracing a language and ecosystem that we at Brighter Planet enjoy using on a daily basis.

When I got back home, I decided this would be a good opportunity to try out our new meeting and lodging emissions models to come up with a carbon footprint for my trip to the conference.

I started out with the meeting space itself. I fired up Google Earth and measured the square footage of the conference center we were at - about 1,150 square meters. With the area of the space and the location, I came up with 3.08 tons of CO2e generated by the heating, cooling, and electricity usage of the space: methodology. Of course, if we considered my individual footprint, it would be 150th of that amount, given that 150 of us shared the space. This comes out to 0.02 tons.

I then looked at my hotel stay for two nights at the Hampton Inn and came up with 0.09 tons of CO2e: methodology. I looked up the lodging class from our data repository

To get to the conference, I carpooled with a couple other Rubyists from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I used 18 gallons of gas, which comes out to 68.1L. When we developed the automobile trip emitter I was surprised to learn from Seamus and Ian that the type of engine you have doesn’t make a significant difference in the amount of CO2 emitted, it really comes down to how much gasoline is burned. Therefore, our automobile trip emitter looks at the type of fuel and the quantity burned. Transportation to and from the conference came out to 0.18 tons of CO2e: methodology. Divided by the three of us, my personal transportation footprint was 0.06 tons.

Of course, no conference weekend is complete without a few good meals with fellow programmers. Over the course of the weekend, I mostly ate vegetarian, but I splurged on a trip to City Barbecue for a tasty beef brisket sandwich. I looked at all the food I ate, and calculated the share of each of the food groups I ate. My foodprint for the weekend was 0.02 tons of CO2e: methodology.

Overall, my total footprint was 0.19 tons of CO2e. Had I not carpooled, the biggest factor would have been the car trip to the venue. With carpooling, most of my emissions came from the hotel stay.

Over the past few years, there have been more and more regional Ruby conferences, and it’s great to see the community buzzing. I think it would be really cool if someone could whip up a web app that analyzes Ruby (or other) conference footprints, perhaps based on data gathered from attendees. We could make a competition out of it to see which conference has the best average per-attendee footprint!

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