Now that healthcare and pharma organizations across the globe have effectively dealt with the global covid pandemic – it may be time to take advantage of clean energy technologies that can reduce energy costs, lower carbon footprints, and improve air quality.
All of us now face our greatest challenge ever, with climate disruption causing severe weather emergencies, famines, droughts, floods, and massive population relocations. The US Military has identified Climate Change as the biggest threat to US National Security.
One thing we can each do – individually and collectively – is systematically move our facilities, our communities, and our society off fossil fuels. Trillions of dollars are being invested in clean energy across the globe – and every organization needs to look at this incredible opportunity.
For over 30 years, I’ve worked with businesses, non-profits, and governments to create clean energy transformations that reduce their energy costs – and carbon footprints – while improving air quality.
As Denis Hayes, the original organizer of Earth Day says, “We are surrounded by a sea of energy”. The Good News is that the Air, Water, Earth & Sun – the 4 Forces of Nature – AWES us. The awesome power of renewable energy can provide thousands of times more energy than we need.
The Better News is that we now have the technology to capture that energy and channel this clean power to provide most of our electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation. Across the US and world, the technologies for Energy Efficiency, Solar & Wind Power, Air Source and Geothermal (ground source) Heat Pumps, and Electric Vehicles are meeting an ever-greater share of our energy needs.
And the Best News is – we can save money making the transition, and create a healthier, more just, and prosperous civilization when we do.
Solar – paired with battery storage – is now the cheapest source of electricity on the planet. Air Source Heat Pumps (an air conditioner that reverses the compression-expansion cycle and provides heat down to -15F) are 250% more efficient than any fossil fuel, while Geothermal (or ground source) heat pumps have 400-500% efficiencies by capturing “the heat beneath our feet”. Every major car manufacturer now has an electric vehicle, and virtually all of them are transitioning to 100% electric over 2 decades.
If you don’t believe that it’s possible to achieve the clean energy transition – just look at your smart phone. Our everyday devices have more computing power than was on the entire planet 30 years ago. What previously cost millions of dollars and would fill a building is now in your hands at a fraction of the cost.
The same technology progression is happening to clean energy. Here are a few examples.
The least expensive energy is that which we don’t use, and LED lighting is now prevalent through many (but not all) buildings. The $2 Billion Oculus building across from the Freedom Tower in NYC moved to LED lighting and gained better quality light, reduced operation costs, and is now able to control color changes for notifications and events.
The Sun provides 1,000 times more energy than we need. With zero cash outlay, organizations – even non-profits via public-private partnerships – are moving to 100% solar electricity. In many parts of the country, there is the opportunity to sign onto a community solar project – where you don’t have to put solar on your property but can get the financial and environmental benefits by being part of a large solar project in your community.
Volatile natural gas prices have put huge holes in many budgets, and natural gas has now been identified as a leading source of indoor air pollution, as well as a substantial contributor to climate disruption. Property owners and facility managers are realizing that air and ground source heat pumps can reduce fuel and maintenance costs, improve air quality – and lower carbon footprints. Moving to cooking with induction stoves can also reduce costs – while improving health and comfort in otherwise over-heated kitchen facilities.
By shifting to electric vehicles, fleets can save on Total Cost of Ownership, with dramatically reduced fuel & maintenance costs. Electric “fuel” is 50% to 75% less expensive than gas and diesel. In many localities, charging station grants are available for non-profits, businesses, & municipalities to help pay for the infrastructure upgrades.
The Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) “Clean Jobs America 2021” documents that 3 million Americans already work in the clean energy industry today – quadruple the number in fossil fuels, and more than all the lawyers, police officers, farmers, firefighters, kindergarten teachers, and mail carriers combined!
So… what can we do?
- Get more efficient with the energy we use (LED lights, insulation, retro commissioning…)
- Put solar on our building or in our parking lots, or sign up for a community solar project
- Switch to clean heating & cooling with air or ground source heat pumps
- Drive electric vehicles. Not only are EVs cleaner & faster than gas vehicles – but electric fuel costs 50%-80% less per mile. and there is almost no maintenance (no oil or transmission fluids, only ~20 moving parts)
Ron Kamen is the founder and principal of EarthKind Energy Consulting, a boutique firm that represents commercial property owners in clean energy transformations that save money and reduce carbon footprints on their electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation.
Ron has created clean energy policies, programs and projects with small businesses and Fortune 1000 corporations; schools & colleges; municipalities; and government agencies & authorities for more than 30 years.www.EarthKindEnergy.com