Energy efficiency pays

Issue: Using energy efficiently, off the road as well as on, is important to your fleet's bottom line - not to mention the environment.We're all familiar with the phrase, "Crime doesn't pay." However, "Pollution doesn't pay" is a phrase we may not be so familiar with - but should be. ENERGY STAR, a voluntary program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a number of private sector business

Issue: Using energy efficiently, off the road as well as on, is important to your fleet's bottom line - not to mention the environment.

We're all familiar with the phrase, "Crime doesn't pay." However, "Pollution doesn't pay" is a phrase we may not be so familiar with - but should be. ENERGY STAR, a voluntary program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a number of private sector business partners, has demonstrated that through more efficient use of energy, companies can save money and reduce pollution.

Every year, U.S. businesses spend about $90 billion on energy to run their buildings. But this doesn't have to be a fixed cost of doing business. It can be managed and controlled without sacrificing worker efficiency or comfort.

In some ways, trucking has a head start in terms of energy efficiency. Almost all heavy-duty fleets and most medium-duty fleets are already using one of the most energy-efficient sources of power - the diesel engine. Fleet managers know that more efficient fuel use means the difference between profitable operations and losing money.

But what you may not realize is that the same principle applies to powering your buildings: Unnecessary energy use means wasted money. It also means pollution. Since generating electricity often requires burning fossil fuels, harmful pollutants can be released into the air. In the U.S., generation of electricity accounts for 35% of all carbon-dioxide emissions, 75% of sulfur-dioxide emissions, and 38% of nitrogen-oxide emissions.

Using energy more efficiently is an important step in reducing air pollution. That's why EPA has teamed with the private sector to develop cutting-edge, voluntary partnerships. By encouraging the production and use of energy-efficient equipment, energy usage and air pollution can be drastically reduced.

ENERGY STAR Buildings partners have reduced the cost of energy to run their buildings by an average of 30%, while increasing the comfort and quality of their facilities. Thomas Stemberg, CEO of Staples Inc., said, "ENERGY STAR Buildings has changed how we look at our business. As we reduce the cost of energy, we can pass on some of those savings to our shareholders in the form of higher profits, and to our customers in the form of lower prices."

But the program is not just for "stationary" industries. Fleets and trucking companies can improve their bottom lines as well. Jerry Penland, senior project manager at Yellow Services, reports that while his company has yet to take full advantage of the program, "We have verified a savings in the cost of electricity in response to what we've done." And there's more the company can do.

As an ENERGY STAR partner, you can gain public recognition for demonstrating your environmental leadership. When people inside the company - especially upper management - realize what kind of impact the program can have on the bottom line, they'll support your efforts to take the program to the next level. It's also important that people on the outside, including the general public, customers, and, of course, shareholders, are aware of what you're doing to save money and help the environment.

In addition, by participating in the ENERGY STAR programs, you will have access to comprehensive technical and financial information to make energy-efficient upgrades easy, including individualized technical assistance from an energy consultant.

For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit EPA's Web site at www.epa.gov/energystar.html or check the fax-back system at 202-564-9659. You can also phone EPA directly at 202-564-9190, or call toll-free at 888-STAR-YES.

Fern Abrams is the manager of environmental affairs at the American Trucking Assns. (ATA). Steve Hensley is an environmental specialist at ATA and manages the Green Truck Environmental Compliance Assistance Web site (www.greentruck.com). For more information, contact the authors or Allen Schaeffer, ATA vice president of environmental and highway policy, at 703-838-1786 or e-mail aschaeff@ trucking.org.

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