The Green Consumer & Energy Efficiency Gains
Businesses say it will be consumer demand rather than tax breaks that will turn them green. More than 250 Australian businesses were surveyed on their sustainable practices and what would make them consider greener options, while an assessment of the “electric productivity” of the 50 US states by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that shoring up performance gaps through energy efficiency could cut consumption by 30%, cited in the State of Green Business Report.
Consumers drive green demand
Claire Heaney in the Herald Sun (11 February 2010):
BUSINESSES say it will be consumer demand rather than tax breaks that will turn them green.
While debate drags on about the best way to cut pollution, a new report reveals that more than eight out of 10 businesses say that they will be driven by consumers ahead of tax breaks to become more sustainable.
Surprisingly, more than 90 per cent of businesses say their green credentials did not appear to have any bearing on whether they won or lost business in the past year.
More than 250 businesses were surveyed for the Grant Thornton International Business Report on their sustainable practices and what would make them consider greener options.
While consumer demand was cited as the main driver, 77 per cent said research and development tax incentives were a factor. Rising energy bills were another motivation for 71 per cent of respondents who headed businesses with 20 to 299 employees.
Grant Thornton Australia privately held business head Tony Markwell said the biggest challenge faced was lack of consumer pressure to encourage a change in business practices.
Green business KeepCup, which makes reusable coffee cups, said consumers were keen to cut their use of disposable coffee cups.
Spokeswoman Jo Ferrari said people felt using the KeepCup was a small but tangible thing they could do to cut waste.
She said a lot of businesses were buying cups for their employees as part of their sustainability push.
Ms Ferrari said many cafe owners offered 20 to 50 discounts to reward green thinking customers and to recognise loyalty
Energy Efficiency Gains Horsepower: The State of Green Business 2010
By Joel Makower in GreenBiz (9 February 2010):
To celebrate the launch of the third annual State of Green Business report, we will be highlighting over the next two weeks the 10 big trends that are shaping the future of the greening of mainstream business. You can download the report for free here, and read all 10 trends on GreenBiz.com.
As managing greenhouse gas emissions continues to rise in priority inside companies, the need to find large, cost-effective energy savings is becoming increasingly important. Some of the biggest opportunities come from basic upgrades — of lighting, air conditioning, equipment, vehicles and other energy-using things. Coca-Cola Enterprises, for example, said it would slash its electricity consumption by 5.6 million kilowatt-hours a year as a result of an energy-efficiency overhaul of just its lighting systems at 24 facilities in the state.
But that barely illuminates the opportunity. There are equally large savings to be found from a wide range of energy-management practices.
Managing energy use has become increasingly easier, thanks to a new generation of technology. The latest energy management software, for example, is helping companies get real-time information about energy consumption, making real-time adjustments as needed along the way. Since the new tools allow companies to load the local utilities’ rate schedules, they can see current energy consumption and cost by facility, minute, day, month or year.
One company, Verdiem, unveiled a “Sustainability Dashboard” feature for its Surveyor PC power management program that helps tie the energy saved from smart PC fleet policies to reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The feature enables IT administrators to quickly measure how PCs in any part of an enterprise are making use of energy-saving software.
Another company, Engenuity Systems, said it was helping the McDonald’s chain shave 13.6 percent off the $1.5 billion the fast-food giant spends each year on cooking, lighting, heating and cooling. Engenuity is installing devices to turn off lights at certain times of day and when buildings are empty, as well as air conditioning and heating equipment that monitors temperatures and controls.
All of this is spurring companies to adjust their greenhouse gas management strategies to highlight efficiency measures. Internet giant Yahoo!, for example, said it would no longer purchase carbon offsets for its operations, focusing its climate strategy on reducing the energy used by its data centers. The move reversed its 2007 announcement that it would invest in carbon-offset projects in order to become carbon neutral. Data centers account for more than half of the company’s carbon footprint, including its global office operations, employee commuting and air travel.
Yahoo! wasn’t alone. Making data centers energy efficient has become an obsession for companies, especially technology firms that are finding that where to locate energy-guzzling data centers is becoming a choke point for their operations. The facilities — which can consume as much energy as a small city — simply aren’t feasible in areas where the electricity grid is stressed.
IT executives are upping their green game. A study conducted by AFCOM found an ever-increasing number of data center and facility managers (71.3 percent, to be precise) have already adopted at least some green IT projects. The Great Recession both helped and hindered this effort.
While the economic downturn spurred interest in saving energy, AFCOM found the biggest obstacle to implementing IT efficiency projects was that there’s not enough money to get these projects started: 39 percent said budgets were too tight to purchase more efficient servers or cooling systems.
But energy savings — in data centers as elsewhere — doesn’t necessarily mean new equipment. During a 2009 GreenBiz.com webcast, members of the Green Grid, an industry consortium, showed how good data center management practices could cut energy use by 20 percent.
That only begins to describe efficiency savings. An assessment of the “electric productivity” of the 50 U.S. states by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that shoring up performance gaps through energy efficiency could cut consumption by 30 percent.
The RMI study determined the productivity rate of each state by measuring how much gross domestic product is generated for each kilowatt-hour consumed. It found that if the rest of the country achieved the normalized electric productivity of the top performing states, the country would save roughly 1.2 million gigawatt-hours annually, about 30 percent of U.S. electricity use, or 62 percent of its coal-fired electrical output. That’s a lot of power to effect change.