Break-Even Ecological Footprint (BEEF) Calculator


The Break Even Ecological Footprint (BEEF), measured in units of time (e.g. months), indicates how long a Western humanitarian engineer or sustainable community development professional needs to live at a local, developing community Ecological Footprint level in order to offset the CO2 emitted by their air travel to and from the field.

In other words, the BEEF is the minimum amount of time one would have to remain in-country/community in order to begin to accrue a net sustainability benefit. Any trip shorter than the BEEF would be futile from a sustainability perspective as the environmental costs of getting there would outweigh the sustainability benefits of living at a lower Ecological Footprint level relative to the US (or other affluent home country) lifestyle.

More information about the BEEF, including calculation methodology, can be found here.


Use the calculator below to evaluate your trip. Select your home and destination cities (or nearest cities of at least 500,000) from the dropdown menus. Then use the slider to gauge the extent to which your lifestyle in-country approximates that of the average local community member.


Home City

Destination City

round-trip flight distance: 16,773 miles (26,993 km)

Living a local lifestyle (LL)Living a semi-local lifestyle (LSL)Living a home country lifestyle
Ecological Footprint
2.4 global hectares per capita
Ecological Footprint
8.0 global hectares per capita
without radiative forcing *with radiative forcing *
flight CO2 emissions3.10 tonnes8.38 tonnes
flight Ecological Footprint1.0 global hectares2.7 global hectares
BEEF4.2 months11.3 months
* Radiative forcing multiplies by a factor of 2.7, reflecting the fact that emissions at high elevations have a proportionally greater impact than at ground level.

City coordinates provided by

Ecological Footprint data (2010 National Footprint Accounts) provided by Global Footprint Network

CO2 per flight-mile provided by

BEEF Calculator built by Marc Hassan, July 2013