Imagine you just spent $50 at the store purchasing everyday household necessities and the store clerk inquires whether you would like to donate $1.50 for a good cause when you are checking out. Do you politely decline and go about your day? Do you contemplate where your money is really going if you accept? Do you act on blind faith and out of kindness agree to donate the $1.50? If you do choose to donate the $1.50, what benefit(s) are you realizing?
The intent of asking these questions is to incite some consideration on your part to steer your business toward going green. Specifically, you have the choice as the end-user of electricity to purchase sustainable energy. This can be accomplished in several ways with the most common means being the purchase of RECs, or Renewable Energy Certificates. As this is not a technical paper but rather an interest piece, you can choose to visit http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/documents/purchasing_guide_for_web.pdf to gain more knowledge about purchasing green power.
Let’s explore the tangible and intangible benefits of going green. The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) incentivizes building owners and users to procure green power with their ENERGY STAR program. Similarly, the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) awards from 1 to 6 points toward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification depending on your project’s LEED category and percentage of Green-e certified power purchased. These programs as well as local, state and national energy efficiency subsidies are becoming more commonplace.
As I am visiting New York at the moment to meet with prospective clients and catch up with close friends, I look at the Empire State Building in wonder. It is literally the first thing I see when I step out the door and head west. But what is going on inside that iconic building? I recently read numerous press articles championing the Empire State Building’s ownership for their energy efficiency retrofit projects and most recently their decision to procure 100% of their energy requirements through wind power. For more insight, visit http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/green-power-for-the-empire-state-building/?pagemode=print.
It’s not just your hipsters that are electing to be environmental stewards, but rather weather-worn corporate executives who recognize the prudence of being green and are answering the calls of their stakeholders. Consider Intel Corporation for example. Their annual energy consumption measures approximately 2,850,000 MWh’s or 2,850,000,000 kWh’s. Of this amount, approximately 2,500,000 MWh’s are green power. At an estimated $1.50 per MWh (this is likely overstating the premium given the volume), Intel made the conscious decision to expend an additional $3.75M annually to subsidize the development of solar and wind farms. This Fortune 500 entity is not alone. If you reference http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/fortune500.htm you will find a host of notable companies that are leading the way to a greener, cleaner, more sustainable environment for future generations.
I will conclude this article by saying I was one of those naysayers who purported our great country has the energy resources to sustain ourselves for the next 200 years given existing technologies. Why the urgency to make the change and go out of my way to start living in a greener manner? To be perfectly honest, it was my mom’s eccentric and insistent displays of recycling that changed my views. Big changes, epic events start with the convictions of one individual that transforms into the ideologies of the masses. Greening our world seems like a good enough cause for me. After all, it has been a chief cause for my mom for some time and we all know moms know best. I will stop before going so far as to sensationalize and exploit the notion of global warming to promote sustainable choices, but I am clear in my message that taking steps to green our planet through conscious and sound decision making is a good choice, a wise choice. This is from a kid who watched Captain Planet when I was younger and forgot to grow up. That same young, imaginative fervor is prevalent in executive offices of our nation’s largest corporations. Educate yourself on living and promoting sustainability.
Written by Steven Edwards, Partner with Apex Green Energy. Apex Green Energy, LLC is a Texas-based energy management advisory firm with international scope representing small to mid-size business owners, commercial real estate owners/managers, manufacturers and general end-users of energy (both electricity and natural gas). We provide our clients with the tools and market insight required to reduce operating costs and navigate through the complex and often burdensome process of evaluating energy procurement choices and energy efficiency capital projects. Our proactive and objective approach to energy management is strengthened by our deep market knowledge and experience across multiple asset product types and energy product offerings.
Our ultimate objective is to offload energy management so you can focus on your firm’s core competency. In doing so, we always encourage our clients to evaluate sustainable procurement options and overall green business practices as environmental stewards of our generation.