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Energy Efficiency Needs to Be the "New Normal"

Scott Edward Anderson's picture
EY (Ernst & Young)

Scott Edward Anderson is the founder of the popular blog, The Green Skeptic. A cleantech investor and entrepreneur, he founded VerdeStrategy, and is currently a director with EY's (Ernst &...

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  • Jun 2, 2011 7:36 pm GMT

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Energy Efficiency has long been touted as the “low hanging fruit,” both in terms of energy savings and potential impact on mitigating climate change.  So why aren’t energy efficiency measures being more rapidly adopted?

“Energy Efficiency is invisible,” said Thomas Kiser at Con Ed’s first Energy Efficiency Summit, held yesterday in New York. Kiser, CEO and founder of Professional Supply, Inc., suggested in his keynote address that commercial and industrial business owners need to be educated about efficiency to see the real value to their bottom line. His sentiments were shared by many at this day-long conference, who learned about a number of products and processes to increase efficiency and reduce energy use and costs.

“Boards understand big equipment,” David Pospisil of Con Ed’s C&I Energy Efficiency Program and organizer of the summit concurred. “But if you try to bring them a more efficient lighting solution or lighting controls they can’t see it.”

The savings can be significant, however, especially in the lighting arena. Mike Smith of Lutron Electronics, a lighting solutions provider, suggested that lighting is now the single largest energy expense for commercial facilities, whereas most people think its HVAC. Why?  Because people remember the legacy HVAC systems, according to Smith, most of which have been replaced by improved, more efficient units.  “The landscape has changed and now innovation is beginning to happen in the lighting space, only incrementally,” offered Smith.

“Energy Efficiency needs to become the new normal,” said a skeptical warehouse operator who declined to be identified. “When it gets there, then we can talk about it.” Judging by the attendance at this event, which included building operators, suppliers, vendors and market partners of Con Ed, and product companies, it is approaching that status – at least among Con Ed’s client and customer base.

“We’re seeing bigger projects coming out of capital budgets,” Pospisil related. “In previous years it was all about trying to tweak a little more from the opex.  And we’re seeing some of the smaller players get involved, mid-size businesses as opposed to just the big players.”

So, are the winds of change shifting in the energy efficiency realm?  Pospisil is optimistic. “We’ve got 700 projects in the pipeline,” he told me. “And we recently signed our first bank as a market partner.  We’re now working on a standard project analysis document to use with other such partners.”

And what about the future of Con Ed’s Energy Efficiency Summit?

“We intended this to be a one-time deal,” Pospisil said. “But we’ve got so many people out there asking when we’ll have the next one that I told the crew to be careful striking the set on the main stage. We may want to use it again next year.”

Photo by jscreationzs.


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