The AutoEcoRating blog is home to a new green car rating system by John DeCicco, a pioneer in developing environmental rating methods for cars and light trucks.

With the blizzard of green-oriented information now blanketing the car market, it’s sometimes hard to tell what makes one car more environmentally friendly than another. That’s where AutoEcoRating comes in. It computes objective “eRatings” based on government certified data for emissions and fuel economy. The ratings apply principles of lifecycle assessment and so make for true “apples-to-apples” comparisons among vehicles, helping car consumers evaluate their choices with the environment in mind.

The eRating tallies up the environmental impacts of a product from “cradle to grave,” meaning from the extraction and production of the materials and fuels used in the car to their final end use and disposal.

For automobiles, most pollution comes from fuel use during driving, with the end products being “disposed” out the tailpipe and into the air around us. Electric cars have serious ecological impacts, too. Although they have no tailpipe and claim zero emissions on the road, plenty of pollution comes out of the power plants that generate the electricity to charge the battery. The eRatings also tally the pollution that occurs when manufacturing the car and producing the steel, plastics and other materials that make up its parts. The result is an estimate of total environmental impact. The higher the impact, the less environmentally friendly the vehicle is.

Because we like to think positive, the AutoEcoRating system uses a “higher is better” scale. That yields a simple yardstick for environmental friendliness: the higher the eRating, the greener the car.

Think of the eRating as “green” horsepower. Just like a horsepower number tells you how powerful a car is for going fast, the eRating tells you how green it is, meaning how well it minimizes the impact on the environment when you drive it. That makes shopping for a green car easy for anyone, no matter what style you like and how much you can afford. It’s this simple: use AutoEcoRating to find the greenest vehicle that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Coming up with eRatings means crunching a lot of numbers, and that’s what we’re doing on this blog. It’ll take a while to compute the ratings for all vehicles, but we’ll get started by writing about the ratings for some popular models and add more data as we go. Send in your comments about vehicles you’d like to see rated, and we’ll do our best to research their specs and provide their eRatings in future posts.