Energy Efficiency a Moral Imperative – to Save Money

by | Feb 10, 2011

Nearly nine out of ten Fortune 1000 senior executives feel a moral responsibility to make their companies more energy efficient, and 13 percent say environmental concerns are their main motivator to save energy.

A poll by Harris Interactive, on behalf of Schneider Electric, found that 88 percent of executives feel a moral responsibility to cut energy use, beyond simply the ethical imperative to follow regulatory requirements.

But the executives said cost savings are their biggest energy-saving motivator. Savings were the prime motivator chosen by 61 percent of executives, compared to 13 percent choosing environmental concerns, ten percent citing CEO mandates, and only two percent choosing government regulations.

Seven percent chose education as the biggest factor, saying that they would change vbehaior if they knew how to reduce consumption. Another seven percent said increased costs were the biggest motivator, saying their companies would use less energy if it was a more expensive product.

Three-quarters of the 301 respondents said that saving energy has gained importance within their organizations over the past two years.

“The findings of the survey reinforce what we’re hearing daily from our customers,” Schneider Electric’s North America president and CEO Christopher Curtis said. “Business leaders want to be good corporate citizens regarding their energy management. They often just don’t know where to start.

“At the same time, we’re in the process of emerging from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, requiring cost savings to be a key part of the solution,” Curtis said.

The survey also revealed little confidence in the potential effectiveness of a national cap and trade system for carbon, with 40 percent saying cap and trade will not result in increased efficiency. Those respondents thought that such a system would likely cause industries to emit the same amount of carbon but charge more for their products to cover costs.

Another 38 percent said cap and trade would only increase energy efficiency if the revenue generated is applied directly to research and development, social programs or initiatives to help companies reduce their energy use.

But 22 percent did believe that cap and trade would increase efficiency by forcing industries to adopt energy efficient technologies and practices.

“The simple truth is we’re sitting on the sidelines when it comes to devising industry accepted standards and requirements for de-carbonizing our economy,” Curtis said. “Nothing meaningful is happening, which is unacceptable. The survey shows awareness is increasing, a good first step.

“The next step needs to be action — putting sustainable carbon and energy management programs in place and taking responsibility for them on a day-to-day basis,” Curtis added.

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