In order to achieve dramatic advancements in energy efficiency on a global level, government needs to be the catalyst to jumpstart innovation among businesses that otherwise wouldn’t be able to take advantage of such technology.
This was a key takeaway from a discussion at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum focused on doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. Panelists from Siemens, the Sinopec Institute, Intel, Dow, China Minmetals Corporation and Embraco (a Brazilian producer of refrigeration compressors) spoke about how businesses could contribute to the goal set by the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
These companies have embraced sustainability as a core aspect of their business strategy and are on the cutting edge of deploying energy-efficient technology in their operations and products. Their investments differentiates them from their competitors.
Energy efficient investments are also long-term drivers for ROI, which is why not every business can afford to make the leap right away.
That’s where government can help, according to Embraco’s Gabriela Werner.
“Payback on energy efficiency always pays back, but it is sometimes out of the timeframe for businesses,” Werner said. “Common sense government incentives will help bridge that divide.”
Photo of cube provided by Carlos Castilla via Shutterstock
Next page: Radical solution for increasing energy efficiency worldwide
The radical solution to increasing energy efficiency, the panelists said, is to encourage all companies around the world to take advantage of the low-hanging fruit to become more energy efficient – and more profitable. It's not about getting the small percentage of companies who have already implemented energy efficient technology to do more, they said.
In order to do that, governments need to implement regulatory standards for energy efficiency, panelists agreed.
Implementing energy-efficient solutions can also increase employee engagement, which can translate to even greater innovation -- and more opportunities to save energy.
Neil Hawkins from Dow spoke to this point. “There are vast numbers of people we recruit that are ‘on fire’ to be involved with sustainability,” he said. “By unleashing the passion of employees to impact the world, we ignite innovation inside our organization and create opportunity on multiple levels.”
Energy efficiency is the easiest, most effective way to lower our energy consumption. Big companies have proven it is profitable, with reported savings in the billions of dollars.
So what are our governments waiting for?