We’ve all heard insulation described as the low-hanging fruit, the simplest, most effective option in energy efficiency and emission reduction. But the keynote speaker at the CPI’s technical conference for 2010, sustainability expert Andrew Winston, introduced the even more graphic concept of, “fruit on the ground” for simple, highly effective measures such as insulation.
And he coupled this with the idea of thinking heresies about your business, citing as an example, the idea that distribution companies could actually slow down shipping, as Maersk and Conway Freight have done, allowing them to save large amounts of energy on non-urgent shipments.
Winston noted that the McKinsey report diagram on energy efficiency illustrates dramatically how much energy can be saved for all types of input, showing clearly that insulating buildings is the cheapest and single most effective action in cutting energy use and, as a result, greenhouse-gas emissions.
And he said the sector must capitalise on the McKinsey observation that for every pound of CO2 produced in the manufacture of PU insulation, 233 pounds of CO2 are saved over its lifetime use.
Winston was giving the keynote presentation 11 Oct to an assembled audience of some 750 polyurethane experts at the technical conference of the CPI, being held in Houston in conjunction with the UTECH North America 2010 exhibition.
The sustainability expert gave many examples of how being ‘green’ has become not just a mainstream preoccupation, for example for Walmart, by far the biggest global corporation, but also of how it makes sense in business terms.
In a run-through of what can happen when businesses do as he suggests, Winston urged the audience to go back to their respective enterprises and think “the heretical thought.” Turn things around and say, “What would happen if we did something completely different?
For US postal group UPS, this was the simple decision: it told delivery drivers to stop making left turns.
This measure seems ludicrous on the face of it, Winston commented, but by always turning right to get to the delivery point, UPS cut fuel use by 3 million gallons and saved 28 million miles, because vehicles were no longer idling at stop signs.
Winston also feels strongly that taking politics out of the green issue works. And that you don’t have to believe in climate change for energy efficiency to make sense: “The logic is to decouple business from oil,” he stressed.
During the three-day meeting some 70 suppliers from the global PU business showcased their new specialities at the UTECH exhibition, held in the George R Brown convention center.