About two weeks ago, as I was sipping from a cocktail on a white-pebbled beach in a Greek bay with crystal blue clear water, I started thinking about the enormous amount of energy that is used every year in making people’s summer holidays happen. Holidays account for a surprising amount of the energy we use each year, with flights, driving, hotel stays and added extras like boat trips all contributing to our carbon footprint. continue
While I was researching my topic for last month’s blog—the electrification of rural America—I stumbled across some related topics that caught my attention. Specifically, how did the mass electrification of the U.S. influence our music? continue
If you are keeping up with the developments in Congress around “Cap and Trade” and the newest incarnation moving through the House, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, then you can picture the face-off this appears to be. Essentially, you have two sides, which are bickering on points that would benefit from a little round-table discussion. What we need here is a little peace, love and understanding.
First, we have the Cap and Trade folks who want to insert regulation, which will hold large greenhouse-gas emitters responsible for polluting. In a nutshell, the process would work like this: A company is told they can produce a certain amount of pollutants (Cap), and depending if the company over-pollutes or under-pollutes, they can purchase or sell credits (Trade) to ensure compliance under the proposed system. Sounds great, right? Well, not so fast, because this produced a firestorm of critics and lobbying efforts to denounce even the thought of a Cap and Trade system. Opposition runs the gamut from paranoid (the government is trying to control everything) to financial (the excess costs a company would incur would be passed to the end customer, which would spiral Americans into a desolate country of glorified panhandlers.) continue
I truly enjoyed this MIT Sloan Review article regarding sustainability and innovation. Not only was it well-researched and written, but I particularly warmed up to one of its key findings: the primary driver for enhancing a company’s sustainability position is how it affects their brand. Music to a marketer’s ears.
Getting a clear definition of “brand management” can be tricky. Depending on who you ask, you get different answers. Branding giants like Interbrand have claimed to be able to put an economic value on a company’s brand. Business valuations have upheld that “brand equity” can drive significantly higher earnings multiples, elevating an organization’s financial value. Brand value is real, but it can be hard to succinctly define. Its meaning will likely evolve over time like “corporate communication” has in light of Facebook, Twitter and mobile devices. For our purposes here, let’s say that brand management is any activity that affects someone’s opinion of a product or organization. So, in essence, it’s perception management.
(I can hear the brand management purists groaning now…) continue
I’ve got a confession to make. I work for an energy management company that offers, among other things, energy sustainabilityservices, but I have been, for most of my life, largely agnostic about “green energy.” I know. It’s not comfortable to say out loud. But it’s true. And based on my background, being agnostic about renewable energy is probably a generous position. You see, I grew up, and still live, in a coal-producing state. I am married to a woman whose grandfather was a coal miner. My Dad started a family petroleum business which put bread on the table and paid the country club dues and sent me and my 3 siblings to good private universities. When I succeeded my father in that business, I grew fond of the sweet smell of diesel fuel, and the nice things it afforded. I have always liked petroleum. continue
You are probably familiar with A Christmas Carol, the classic holiday tale of Ebenezer Scrooge who hates all things happy and then reforms with the help of three ghosts. Scrooge is most known for his attitude in the beginning of the story: cold, greedy and mean. The extent of Scrooge’s social network was one family member and one deceased friend — how empty his Facebook page would have been! After reading an article in Wired magazine that explained how loneliness can be contagious, I started to wonder if maybe Scrooge isn’t entirely to blame. After all, Scrooge had a very ”scroogey” friend, Jacob Marley. Maybe Jacob is somewhat responsible for Scrooge’s bad behavior. Jacob was probably just infecting Scrooge with his unhappiness as if it were the common cold. continue
Recently, at a holiday get together with some friends, we started to talk about the necessities of the season, Christmas trees, decorations, presents and Christmas cards. We were all pretty much in agreement that getting a handwritten Christmas card is much more personable than sending, say, an e-card. However, someone mentioned they had decided not to do cards this year. They were busy and they saw it as a way to save paper and be a little greener this holiday. As I was writing my Christmas cards out that night and thinking that I had not done anything to “green up” my holiday, I saw it, PCW (Post Consumer Waste) paper written on the back of my cards in big black letters. continue
Ahhh, bipartisanship. The inner workings of our beloved government can strike feelings of frustration, confusion and an overall sense of general disorder in the typical layman. Many would associate the shift in power and control in Congress with the sometimes violent childhood game of Red Rover. The verbal swipes between parties seem even more similar to “clotheslining” the kid down the street. Well, at least to me.
Take the friendly topic of “cap and trade,” which began innocently enough as a program to curb pollutants. The overall goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large producers by 17% by 2020. Sounds great, right? Well supporters of a cap-and-trade system believe it will be positive both economically continue
Next time you visit the Windy City, you may walk into a building that not only knows to dim the lights when people aren’t around, but also knows when the city as a whole is using too much power and the AC should be turned down – and then gets paid for it.
It has become clear that companies large and small alike can’t afford not to know their energy consumption, spend or greenhouse gas emissions. And once they know it, they can’t afford to leave it unmanaged, following the whim of the weather or the market. Energy management is a fact not only of corporate life, but also of city life. Recently New York City installed real-time wireless water meters in 834,000 homes in the city to better know and track the water usage in the city. ComEd in Chicago hosted a competition for some of Chicago’s suburbs to see which neighborhood could reduce their power consumption by the greatest amount, with 34.9 million kilowatt hours saved throughout the yearlong competition across nine areas in the city. continue