Five barriers to energy efficiency savings – and how smart companies can overcome them

Here’s a business conundrum for you: energy efficiency saves serious money, cuts carbon pollution, requires low tech solutions, and is a known quotient, having been around since the 1970s. So why are so many companies still not taking the necessary steps to identify and eliminate these inefficiencies?

“What we learned in Econ 101 doesn’t hold true when it comes to energy efficiency – the notion of perfect markets, where information flows freely and people are maximizing their value,” notes Environmental Defense Fund’s Gwen Ruta. “Instead, it’s as if companies across the globe are walking around with a hole in their pocket with coins dribbling out nonstop.”

How is it that smart companies who are vigilant about monitoring the bottom line, stock price, customer satisfaction and much more let this wasteful “dribbling” occur?  This question launched a robust discussion at a Fortune Brainstorm Green session last week titled “A Trillion Dollar Opportunity: The Hunt for Energy Efficiency.” Gwen Ruta was joined on the panel by Gretchen Hancock, Project Manager for Corporate Environmental Programs at GE; Bill Weihl, Google’s Green Energy Czar and Beth Trask, Deputy Director of EDF’s Innovation Exchange.  GE and Google have made huge strides around energy efficiencies in past years, with still more work to do on the horizon and still some barriers of their own to break down.

So what are the main barriers to energy efficiency and how can companies try to overcome them? Read more

Walmart suppliers have questions, we have answers: Join the Sustainability Index webinar on Wednesday

In July 2009, Walmart began the development of a sustainable product index called the Sustainability Index.  Like most folks in the corporate sustainability world, I was incredibly impressed and excited about the prospects of this mean, green, sustainability machine. But I was also a bit intimidated by what it entailed. If that sounds like you, then Environmental Defense Fund, Walmart and its other NGO partners are about to provide some clarity and a little jump start.

Read Andrew Hutson‘s July 2009 post with his thoughts on the importance of the Sustainability Index.

Read more

Why Walmart’s Carbon Commitment Can Make Such a Difference

Archimedes said “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth,” when explaining the principle of levers.

Leverage is the big news about Walmart’s announcement today. The company has committed to reducing 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution from its products’ lifecycle and supply chain over the next five years. That’s equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 3.8 million cars.

So is Walmart moving the earth? No, not yet. But this is precisely the kind of innovative approach to reducing carbon pollution that we need right now. Environmental Defense Fund worked closely with Walmart to craft this goal and project that makes the most of what Walmart can uniquely do to cut carbon pollution across the globe.

This commitment is bold because: Read more

Green Innovation in the City of Clean Tech

Boston was recently named the nation’s “best city for clean tech” and we were fortunate enough to hold our second Green Innovation for Business Unconference across the river in Cambridge this week at Microsoft New England. Close to 100 business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and advocates came together for a day-long group-think to figure out how to drive environmental improvements deeper and more quickly into the private sector. Read more

Innovations Review 2009: Green Advances for a New Economy

Today, EDF releases Innovations Review 2009: Green Advances for a New Economy.  As the title implies, we’re highlighting compelling new practices and technologies that drive operational efficiency, create new business opportunities and carve out competitive advantage in these challenging times.  Why?  Because even though these practices have been proven to be technically and financially feasible, they’re not yet in widespread use.  Simply put, we want to see these innovations – and the environmental benefits they represent – spread more quickly.

Innovations Review 2009 covers advances in business sectors from food service to agriculture to real estate to financial services.  For just a sampling, check out:

  • High-tech computer systems that monitor real-time weather data and soil conditions to help companies reduce the water needed for crop irrigation and commercial landscaping by 15-40%.
  • A new mortgage program that is boosting sales by offering homebuyers lower interest rates if they elect to install solar panels in their new homes.
  • Annual employee performance reviews that now tie environmental results to compensation, up to the senior executive level.

We hope that Innovations Review 2009 will provide your company with useful models and inspire your team to go even further.

Talk and follow the conversation about Innovations Review 2009 with the tag: IR2009