Resolve to save energy

15 years ago

 Image   Innovations in efficiencies are renewables. Gains made in efficiency for a building (be it commercial or residential) continue for the life of the building. We must be perpetuating a culture of efficiency, it is going to be one of my New Years’ Resolutions, along with exercise more, yadda yadda.     A-l Gore, writes in “Our Choice” that “opportunities for gains in efficiency, ie. profits, are in all sectors of our economy. The cost savings and CO2 reductions from improvements in efficiencies are not speculative: they are measurable, and they are real. Did you know, as a national average, overall U.S. electrical generation converts only 33 percent of fuel to electricity, but combined heat and power plants extract more than twice as much useful energy by using that same energy twice.” While it seems logical enough, it is another thing I had never thought about. Nor, had I given much thought to whether CMP (or others: throat clearing), were generating electricity efficiently or not.
    According to the U.S. Department of Energy motor-driven equipment accounts for 64 percent of the electricity consumed in industrial settings. And, they’re everywhere. Literally. The payback in terms of profitability is typically quick. Touted further as being quieter, more reliable, and easier to use, this may possibly be “new motor” propaganda, but efficiencies in use are not. Nor are measurements in terms of ones’ pocketbooks.
    Two more broad topics: and I may not talk about energy efficiencies or the state of our climate in 2010. One: recycling. Paper, aluminum cans, cardboard, plastics, glass. Did you know, in our country, more than 50 billion aluminum cans are thrown away each year? That is half of all the aluminum cans sold in a year. While I wonder who is buying all that soda, and why don’t the dentists band together to stop us from destroying our teeth, there are sobering facts more scary than that. The Container Recycling Institute reported between 1990 and 2000, Americans threw away enough aluminum cans to reproduce the world’s entire commercial air fleet over 25 times. What else is ending up in the landfills? 50 billion plastic PET containers a year, and 29 billion glass containers, or the equivalent of nine containers a week for every single man, woman, and child end up in our trash.
    Two: advertising, or commercials. Virtually every Pavlovian trigger discovered in the human brain to date is now being teased, tickled and pulled by advertisers. Ahhh, my mother has always told me: the truth hurts. I call it shopping therapy, and I’ve been a subscriber for years. Some of you know, the Christmas cards I sent this year were not on recycled paper, and they said “Christmas … another excuse to shop!” I thought they were funny, and I sent them out to what I thought were like-minded friends.
    The guilt. In the aggregate, we have tripled our economic output the last 50 years. We are a nation of consumers — meat eating, trash throwing consumers. Arguably, we have no general gains in our sense of well being. Less is more: I could chant it ‘til the cows from last week stop taking baths, and wasting all that water. I may not be able to retrain myself to actually believe it. I’m an old dog, after all, and wasn’t Pavlov working with young ones? The point remains.
    One of my very favorite loan clients has a philosophy with her children at Christmas: only three gifts. We can’t have everything. More stuff doesn’t really make us happier. Appreciate what you have, don’t want it all, don’t expect you deserve it all, just because. No money trees, etc.
    So it’s our mindsets too, most importantly. We must choose, and choose every day, willfully, consciously choose. The guilt mounts: it is going to have to get added to the list of resolutions this next year. Consume less, recycle more. For the bottom line, for my children’s bottom lines, someday … For our small businesses and for our communities, it’s a measurable, do-able thing.
    I will try not to see you at the sales, shopping for shopping’s sake! Take care!
    Wendy Landes, MPA, is the executive director of the Caribou Chamber of Commerce & Industry. She can be reached in person at 24 Sweden Street, Suite 101; by telephone at 498-6156 or via e-mail at wlandes@cariboumaine.net.