Episode 39: Energy Efficiency with Scott Tew (Ingersoll Rand)
Producing a watt of energy from renewable sources is great, but y’know what’s better? Not even using that watt in the first place! This is where energy efficiency comes into play. It allows us to keep doing our favorite activities but not use as much energy in the process. In this episode, you’ll learn about energy efficiency’s many benefits, the challenges to its widespread adoption, which organizations are leading the way in the field, and what you can do to be more energy efficient at home. One of these leading organizations is Ingersoll Rand, a diversified industrial manufacturing company and the sponsor of this episode. Scott Tew, Executive Director of Ingersoll Rand’s Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, joins us to discuss how energy efficiency is core to the organization’s operation and strategy and about trends in the field. Enjoy (efficiently)!
Episode Intro Notes
This episode is sponsored by Ingersoll Rand.
What We'll Cover:
What is energy efficiency?
Why is it important to talk about energy and energy efficiency?
What are some energy efficiency practices in buildings and the transportation sector?
What can listeners do to make their homes more energy efficient?
Key issues surrounding energy efficiency
Which states and countries are leading the way on energy efficiency?
Ingersoll Rand’s Energy Efficiency Leadership
What is energy efficiency?
Let’s start off with the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency, which can get a little confusing. While energy efficiency and energy conservation aren’t the same thing, they do have a similar goal: to reduce energy use. Here’s the difference. Energy conservation relies on people cutting back on activities that consume energy - things like turning off lights, driving less or using appliances less often. Energy efficiency harnesses technology to help avoid or reduce energy waste so that you can still turn on the lights, drive, or wash your clothes but use less energy doing so. It really all comes down to smarter energy use.
In other words, energy efficiency aims to decrease energy usage without really changing our energy usage habits and patterns (not that we shouldn’t anyways!).
Why is it important to talk about energy efficiency?
Today, the nation’s 114 million households and more than 4.7 million commercial buildings account for 41% of total US energy usage. That means these buildings consume more energy than the transportation (29%) and industry (30%) sectors!
Most of this building energy use (and the associated carbon emissions) come from heating, cooling and lighting, and to power appliances and electrical equipment.
Smarter energy use is also one of the world’s most powerful weapons for combating climate change and ensuring our air is safe to breathe.
There are many other benefits to energy efficiency besides reducing carbon emissions.
Number 1 is jobs.
Energy efficiency already accounts for more than 2 million U.S. jobs—10 times more than oil and gas drilling and 30 times more than coal mining. In fact, about one in every six construction jobs in the country is connected to energy efficiency. Scaling up America’s energy efficiency efforts will create tens of thousands of additional well-paying local jobs.
Number 2 is money. Investing in energy efficiency makes financial sense.
Let’s first talk about commercial buildings.
Upfront investment in green buildings can mean major savings on energy. Chew on this: just between 2015 and 2018, LEED-certified buildings in the United States are estimated to have saved $1.2 billion in energy savings.
Retrofits of existing buildings can also make a lot of financial sense considering commercial buildings waste up to 30% of the energy they consume.
And now for individual households, the stuff we see every day. By investing in energy-efficient appliances, a U.S. household can save up to $500 a year on utility bills.
Note though that how much money you save with energy efficient appliances depends on several factors. One is the cost of energy in your area. Another is the amount of use of the appliance. Consider washers. While 45 percent of U.S. households do laundry between two and four times every week, 10 percent of us are running between 10 and 15 loads. One study found that a household’s bottom line for paying $200 more for an energy efficient washer ranged from ranged from a $100 loss to saving $1,560.
And, of course, Number 3 is the environment.
Just in the US, widespread use of efficient appliances, electronics, equipment and lighting, along with better insulation and other weatherization, could cut 550 million metric tons of carbon pollution a year by 2050—equal to the electric power emissions produced by Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, and California in 2016.
What are some energy efficiency practices in buildings, transportation, and factories?
An easy place to start is with buildings. Here are some common energy efficiency practices done within our building stock, both new and old:
Thermal insulation. Most heat (up to half the total) is lost through the walls of an uninsulated house. Wall insulation can reduce this loss by two-thirds. Insulating windows and doors is another way to increase thermal retention.
Reflective roofs. A reflective roof is one that has been designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat than a standard roof. Reflective roofs can be made of a highly reflective type of paint, a sheet covering, or highly reflective tiles or shingles. When buildings absorb less heat, it takes less energy to cool them.
Building automation and smart meters. By continuously monitoring energy usage, smart meters are able to track and automate a building’s energy usage to open up new opportunities for energy savings. One example comes from Trane, one of Ingersoll Rand’s main four brands. Trane’s Tracer™ Building Controls provides data-driven dashboards of a building’s equipment and systems so users can measure performance and identify areas to lower operating costs.
Let’s move onto the transportation sector, which is also ripe with opportunities to increase energy efficiency.
Aerodynamic design and weight reduction. As it turns out, heavy vehicles lose a tremendous amount of energy from wind resistance, braking, and rolling resistance. Such non-engine losses can account for about a 45% decrease in efficiency. Improvements in materials, aerodynamic design, and drive train (engine/transmission) efficiency have the potential to substantially increase the average fuel economy of the U.S. vehicle fleet. Full deployment of currently available technology could achieve gains of 40%, according to several studies.
This parallels our efficiency findings on airplanes in Episode 29.
Power optimization. Here’s a cool one - solar panels for transport trucks! Thermo King, another one of Ingersoll Rand’s brands, produces solar panels for the top of your truck that are proven to reduce diesel Auxiliary Power Unit run time by 20-30% and extend battery life to five or more years.
Be smart about the energy you’re currently using. Start small by turning electronics off, tweaking your TV settings, adjusting temperature settings, and setting timers. Hunt down “energy vampires” that consume electricity even when idle. One study found the average household has 65 devices plugged into or permanently connected to U.S. homes. This always-on energy use by inactive devices translates to approximately $19 billion a year—about $165 per U.S. household on average—and 50 large (500-megawatt) power plants’ worth of electricity.
Buy Efficient Home Appliances. Replacing older appliances (like refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers) with energy-efficient models can save the average household more than $500 a year. Those savings could climb to $840 by 2030.
Heat and Cool Efficiently. If just 1 in 10 households bought Energy Star–labeled heating and cooling equipment, we’d avoid pumping 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment each year, equivalent to the annual tailpipe emissions of 1.2 million cars.
Switch to LED Bulbs. Brightening rooms with efficient LED bulbs can save households about $100 a year, adding up to national savings of around $12.5 billion (if LEDs were universally adopted).
Key challenges to energy efficiency
No one said making our world energy efficient would be easy. The Electricity Journal spotlighted five chief challenges to widespread energy efficiency. They include:
The magnitude of energy efficiency savings must increase dramatically;
The sources of energy efficiency savings must diversify;
Measuring and ensuring the persistence of energy efficiency savings must become commonplace;
Energy efficiency outcomes must be integrated with a carbon reduction framework, and
Energy efficiency must be understood and valued as part of an evolving grid, with utility-scale renewables, distributed energy resources (DERs), and significant load variability
Which cities, states and countries are leading the way on energy efficiency?
27 states in the U.S. have adopted an energy efficient resource standard (EERS). An EERS uses either financial incentives or non-performance penalties to encourage energy efficiency and reduce electricity sales.
States with an EERS have shown average energy efficiency spending and savings levels more than three times as high as those in states without an EERS
New York has shown leadership in the area. In December 2018, it announced a new energy efficiency target for investor-owned utilities. It will more than double utility energy efficiency progress by 2025, reducing the state’s energy consumption by the equivalent of fueling and powering 1.8 million homes.
Vermont and California are leading with a comprehensive suite of state-level energy efficiency standards for high energy use products like faucets, toilets, computer monitors, and air purifiers.
On a country level, the 2018 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard examines the energy efficiency policies and performance of the world’s top 25 energy-consuming countries. Can you guess its top 5 countries?
1 - Italy
2 - Germany
3 - France
5 - Japan
The US came in 11th - below China!
Ingersoll Rand’s leadership on energy efficiency
Haven’t heard of Ingersoll Rand? No worries! It’s one of those huge companies that the typical person engages with often but doesn’t even realize it. With a history dating back to 1871, Ingersoll Rand and its family of brands helps heat, cool and automate buildings and transportation across a variety of different industries all across the globe.
You’ve most likely heard of at least a few of its four primary brands:
Trane: Creates comfortable, sustainable and energy efficient environments, while improving the performance of homes and buildings around the world. This includes air conditioners or furnaces for your home or HVAC systems for large commercial buildings like hospitals and schools.
Ingersoll Rand: Provides products, services and solutions that enhance customers' energy efficiency, productivity and operations. This includes products like power tools and air compressor systems.
Thermo King: Enhances quality of life through transportation temperature control systems and dealer networks that deliver assurance of freshness, performance and partnership. As an example, Thermo King helps provide refrigeration systems for trucks and vans that deliver food or medical supplies.
Club Car: One of the most respected names in the golf industry, is the world’s largest manufacturer of small-wheel, zero-emissions electric vehicles. It is also Jay’s dream vehicle.
With this large portfolio, Ingersoll Rand is making meaningful progress towards a more energy efficient and sustainable world. On top of publishing a range of reports on its climate commitments, sustainability reports, materiality assessments and governance strategies, Ingersoll Rand also created the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. This Center facilitates the company’s sustainability-related work with government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), universities, and technology and industry leaders. We’ll be speaking with Scott Tew, the Founder and Executive Director of CEES, coming up.
As a testament to all of its work towards sustainability, Ingersoll Rand won the Best Environmental Stewardship award at The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center’s 2018 Corporate Citizenship Awards. It won for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent two years ahead of its 2020 goal. It achieved this by focusing on four areas: energy reduction, optimization of refrigerant charging, upgrading its fleet to improve gas mileage, and renewable energy.
About Scott Tew
Scott Tew leads company-wide efforts to engage employees, and sets processes and policies to reduce the resource demand of current and future company products.
He also helps lead the company’s communications and advocacy strategy related to sustainable business practices. He serves as an internal and external thought leader in the space of sustainability, connecting leaders and strategic brands with NGO partners, government agencies, academic institutions, media outlets, and strategic partners to meet growth and business targets.