How Do People Lower Their Carbon Footprint?

The U.S. goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will transform every aspect of the economy. Find out what individuals and companies are doing right now to lower their carbon footprint.

How Do People Lower Their Carbon Footprint

While every industry must take steps to lower their carbon footprint, individual actions can make a difference, too. As part of the latest Green Builder Media COGNITION Smart Data survey, we asked more than 1,200 building industry professionals and consumers what steps they are taking now to decarbonize. 

While nearly 80% of building professionals and consumers said their companies have a decarbonization strategy, we also wanted to know what individual actions they are taking to contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions. 

Among consumers, the top five actions taken to decarbonize include:

  • Driving an EV (36%)
  • Increasing the energy efficiency of their home (32%)
  • Having an all-electric home (31%)
  • Reducing waste (30%)
  • Installing solar power (29%). 

Other actions taken include buying sustainable products (27%), eating organic or locally produced food (25%), and recycling (24%). In addition, approximately 8% of consumers said they purchase carbon offsets to reduce their carbon footprint. (See chart below for more details.)


 Professionals who work in the building industry, like other consumers, are also acting on an individual basis to lower their carbon footprint. In nearly every category, a higher percentage of building industry professionals took specific actions than consumers outside the industry. 

Among building industry professionals, the top actions taken to decarbonize include: 

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of their home (40%)
  • Reducing waste (40%)
  • Eating organic or locally produced food (39%)
  • Recycling (38%)
  • Driving an EV (33%)
  • Buying sustainable products (33%)
  • Converting their home to all electric (32%). 

In addition, approximately 14% of building industry professionals said they purchase carbon offsets to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Building industry professionals report that their companies are taking actions such as adopting renewable energy (32%), electrifying their transportation and buildings (24%), reducing emissions from industry and manufacturing (15%). (See chart below for more details. How_Is_your_company_decarbonizing_(2)

The array of actions consumers and building industry professionals are taking can lead to real change. As innovations and investments in decarbonization grow, it’s clear that people are beginning to see what they can do to contribute to reducing emissions. 

Want to learn more about this topic? Read our comprehensive Decarbonization report, which includes Download the full report here. Check out the COGNITION Smart Data page for more insights on decarbonization and other topics from building industry pros and consumers.