Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin
The new year -- countless opportunities to tackle new challenges and find a new resolve to address missed opportunities from years past.
Improving energy efficiency is one such challenge that we must work to address in 2008. Energy efficiency, a proven and broadly-accepted strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing energy security, is a platform Business Roundtable strongly supports. With every unit of energy we conserve through greater efficiency, this means lower energy consumption and therefore less oil, gas or coal to meet demand.
And with crude oil recently hitting $100 a barrel, the need for a diversified energy mix is as clear as ever. Through the promotion of energy efficiency and the reduction of energy usage, real economic savings for consumers and businesses will scale beyond mere pocket change.
As recently discussed, Business Roundtable supported components of the recent energy bill passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, particularly the emphasis on energy efficiency. In our energy blueprint released last June, we identified improving efficiency as a critical building block for a successful energy policy.The energy blueprint calls for a 25 percent increase in the U.S. rate of energy efficiency improvement -- a goal likewise reflected in the recent energy bill. We eagerly look forward to the opportunities for businesses, policy makers and consumers to take additional steps this year.
Improving energy efficiency spans from the individual consumer making simple lifestyle changes, such as investing in compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or ENERGY STAR products, to businesses developing and utilizing new technologies that use energy more efficiently, to improving the overall efficiency in the commercial and residential sector (the 120 million homes and 7 billion square feet of commercial buildings in the U.S. account for about 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption).
While legislation and government programs will play a critical role in promoting energy efficiency, Business Roundtable companies realize that they must take the lead. This is why we resolve to encourage member companies to adopt, implement and own the following energy efficiency initiatives as outlined in our energy blueprint:
- Investing in efficient appliances, lighting and building materials at manufacturing and office locations.
- Committing to an efficiency target for new buildings and upgrades of existing buildings owned or operated by Roundtable members that require no less than a 30 percent increase in efficiency over existing stocks.
- Implementing a computerized energy management and control system in facilities along with formalized shutdown procedures when lights and equipment are not required.
- Offering "green" mortgages that provide financial incentives for home purchasers to invest in efficiency upgrades (for financial institutions only).
- Building, sponsoring, piloting or hosting at least one Net Zero building within the next five years.
- Installing highly efficient transformers, smart metering and advanced power system technologies.
- Installing highly efficient motors, drives and turbochargers in industrial manufacturing applications.
- Setting ambitious energy efficiency goals for operations; sharing energy-saving strategies, technologies and best practices with industry peers; and monitoring and reporting efficiency gains.
Many of our member companies are already leading the way in improving their energy efficiency. By sharing how leading member companies are in fact leading, the Roundtable encourages other companies to follow in their foot steps and to continue down the path toward sustainability.
Here's a brief spotlight on a member company's initiative designed to improve energy efficiency that is resulting in a positive environmental impact:
The Dow Chemical Company
From 1995 to 2005, Dow reduced its energy intensity by 22 percent, exceeding an aggressive corporate goal (20 percent) that was established to reduce the company's global energy intensity. Since 1990, Dow has reduced its energy intensity by more than 38 percent.
The cumulative energy saved during the past decade was equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power eight million homes for a year. As part of its 2015 Sustainability Goals, Dow has committed to achieve an additional 25 percent improvement in energy efficiency.
Dow is leading the way in improving energy efficiency through its products, such as STYROFOAMâ„¢ insulation products, GREAT STUFFâ„¢ Insulation Foam Sealants and IMPAXXâ„¢ energy absorbing foam for automobiles. IMPAXXâ„¢ improves safety performance and is up to 50 percent lighter than other options, reducing vehicle weight which leads to improved fuel economy.
Dow has also been involved in energy efficiency outreach, through their involvement with government and third-party organizations like The Alliance to Save Energy's The Power is in Your Hands energy efficiency campaign. Through all the company's accomplishments, Dow is recognized as a global leader in improving energy efficiency.
This is just one example of how our member companies are improving their energy efficiency. Look for more details of member company initiatives in our first S.E.E. Change progress report to be released this spring.
By making simple changes at the foundation of our energy usage, by improving what can be easily fixed, the cumulative effect business and consumers can realize together with these changes,will lead U.S. energy demand to a very different place — a much better place — on January 7, 2009.