By Liz White, editor
Houston, Texas -- 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 "fruit on the ground" concept for 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 also noted that the McKinsey report diagram which illustrates graphically how much energy can be saved for all types of input, shows clear proof that pound for pound, insulating 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 fact that for every tonne of CO2 produced in the manufacture of PU insulation, 233 tonnes of CO2 are saved through its lifetime use.
Winston was giving the keynote presentation 11 Oct to an assembled audience of some 700 polyurethane experts at the technical conference of the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, being held in Houston in conjunction with the UTECH North America 2010 exhibition.
In a fascinating 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 UPS, this was the simple decision it took: delivery vehicles would no longer make left turns.
This simple 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 spending time idling at stop signs.
"It sounds really insane," Winston said, but when you analyse it, and assess it dispassionately, it works.
Winston also noted 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.
The meeting runs to 13 Oct, finishing with a two-hour spray foam panel discussion on the afternoon of Wed 13 Oct. Meanwhile some 70 suppliers from the global PU business are showing their new specialities at the UTECH exhibition in the George R Brown convention centre.