Money Talks: Good Energy Change

One quick way to change behavior is to present an airtight business case for doing so. This is happening all over the place on renewable energy.

One quick way to change behavior is to present an airtight business case for doing so. This is happening all over the place on renewable energy: the cost of using solar power to generate clean electricity has plummeted, by more than 60% since 2009; and the transition to renewable energy is, not surprisingly, happening.

Chief Financial Officers are embracing the change: “The scale of the sustainability challenges in the world require bold commitments and bold action,” said Rob Olson, CFO IKEA North America. “IKEA supports long-lasting, robust policies like the Clean Power Plan, which encourage the innovation needed to grow a low-carbon economy.”

Money talks.

Scores of major corporations are shifting to clean energy, and not only to hug a tree. We see the compelling financial evidence every day.

Last week, tech giants Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft organized themselves as the #TechAmici in support of clean power; joining IKEA, Mars, Blue Cross Blue Shield MA and Adobe. Why do these corporations support energy-efficient solutions?

“It is important to the Amici Companies that they reduce their carbon footprints by procuring their electricity from zero- and low-emitting greenhouse gas (GHG) sources, not only to be good stewards of the environment, but to also because it preserves their economic interests.” (via @EDFbiz)

Two weeks ago Bloomberg expanded its strong commitment to sustainability, joining the RE100 group organized by the Climate Group. The growing roster of RE100 members runs from Adobe to Walmart.

Why would a competitive media conglomerate like Bloomberg join with other major corporations on a clean-energy vision? Global corporate responsibility, doing the right thing, for sure; but money is the driving factor:

“Sourcing renewable electricity enables us to diversify our energy supply, reduce costs, provide a hedge against rising traditional energy costs and helps contribute to cleaner, healthier communities,” Bloomberg’s Curtis Ravanel explains. “RE100 convinced us that they had gathered a strong coalition of committed companies, dedicated to real outcomes. That’s exciting to us. Collaborating with other companies who are demonstrating that distributed clean energy makes business sense will allow all of us to have a greater impact in bringing other companies along.”

Manufacturing is in synch: in February, GE announced it’s phasing out CFL light bulbs in favor of LEDs, which use 80% less electricity and last for decades. And, which they can sell more of. Again, as you might expect, the decision is financial, driven by price of goods and customer demand.

“As a result, customers have been migrating toward LEDs. In 2014, LEDs made up about 5 percent of the American market…. LEDs reached 15 percent of bulb shipments in the third quarter of last year, a jump of more than 237 percent over the same quarter in 2014.”

The quality of the product (LED lighting) has improved; simultaneously, prices have fallen; demand soars. A + B = C. It’s a basic equation you probably learned in Econ 101.

Cities like New York are already ramping up to LEDs.

In Manhattan, 250,000 streetlights are on the LED upgrade track to be completed by 2017. Again, it’s a financial move. This will “save taxpayers millions of dollars, move us closer to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals, and help us to continue reducing City government’s day-to-day costs and improving its operations,” the mayor announced.

Interestingly, New York’s 8.5 million residents and 50+ million tourists may not even realize it. Next time you’re in Central Park, notice the pedestrian-walkway bulbs overhead. They’re expected to produce up to 62% in energy savings.

Much of the world’s energy innovation is happening behind the scenes, out of many people’s view. As we write, the EnergySMART 2016 conference kicks off in Washington, focused on competitive advantage: the “rapid change—an unprecedented pivot” in energy management “for both enterprises and utilities.” Even if you’re not able to attend, you might want to have a look at the agenda. (And if you are there, don’t miss WeSpire’s CEO and Founder Susan Hunt Stevens on Wednesday morning at 10 am EST. She’s speaking on “The Real Business Value of Sustainability, from Recruiting to Improving Your Bottom Line.”)

Sometimes behavior changes because individuals decide to take action. Sometimes change happens without individuals even knowing.

Increasingly, decision-makers realize clean-energy change is good for the bottom line. The worldwide transition to energy efficiency means that billions of people are part of the solution, and they might not even feel a pinch. If anything, they’ll notice an improvement: now they have reliable, affordable light and power to make life easier. We say that’s a painless way to change behavior.

How about you? Are you interested in improving the energy equation where you work? We’d love to hear more about that and shed light on the solution WeSpire provides to engage people for good change.