Mary Claypool: Renewable energy strategies

January 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

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The year 2013 was quite a roller coaster, with many challenges and accomplishments.

A positive note is that in 2013 corporate America embraced sustainable energy in a big way and reached record milestones. It appears renewable energy has found its way into most corporate and small business sustainability strategies and a growing number of companies have decided that nothing less than 100 percent green will do. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership has more than 700 organizations, from Fortune 500 corporations to mom-and-pop shops to the public sector.

Many of the companies are setting trends in sustainability. Intel Corp., which ranks as the top renewable energy consumer with the use of 3.1 billion kilowatt hours, joined the 100 percent user list in 2013. Others on the all-green list are Kohl’s Department Stores, Staples and Whole Foods Market. IKEA completed its 39th solar electric rooftop system in the U.S. as part of its push to attain energy autonomy by 2020. Salesforce announced its new goal of sourcing all of its power from renewables. Apple, Google and Microsoft also made strides toward all-green goals.

We all see the electric car chargers, seldom in use, but the good news is electric vehicle purchases were up about 300 percent through November. BMW delivered its first electric vehicle in Germany in 2013, ahead of its planned U.S. sales launch in 2014. Volkswagen announced it will introduce 14 models of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles this year.

Coca-Cola, Duke Energy, Ford, General Electric, General Motors, Google, NRG Energy and San Diego Gas Electric joined the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge. The governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont pledged to increase the use of electric vehicles by adding 3.3 million new electric cars by 2025.

Energy efficiency also gained momentum in 2013, in the form of new building codes, fresh investments, new corporate commitments and innovative products cutting across industries.

The Johnson Controls Institute for Building Efficiency’s 2013 Energy Efficiency Indicator said efficiency rose sharply in 2013, as companies around the globe increased investments to cut costs, enhance brand image and property values. Major companies such as GE, Honeywell, Siemens, Tokyo Electric and Whirlpool rolled out, or committed to rolling out, smarter, more efficient appliances, lighting and energy management systems, many times in partnership with innovative smaller companies.

Johnson Controls is looking at net-zero energy buildings, such as the new West Village at UC Davis, which hopes to become the largest planned zero-net energy community in the U.S. California’s updated Title 24 building code takes effect in 2014, which will make new construction and restorations in the state among the most efficient buildings in the country.

These examples of corporate commitment and partnerships show that business is paving the way for the continued success of renewable energy strategies, while saving dollars and building their image. We all benefit from any efforts to ensure our environment is preserved and protected.

Mary Claypool is an adviser with Claypool Consulting and former executive director of the Monterey County Business Council. She can be reached at or 917-3777.

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