Why Industry needs smart energy citizens
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
The climate change crisis that we now face is a direct result of the enormous amounts of fossil fuels we choose to burn on a daily basis. If we are to have any impact on the human activities that are causing the climate to change, we must first change our thinking.
This essentially means abandoning our ingrained dependence on fossil fuels, which has evolved over many human generations. The developed world is designed, built, and engineered to run on a cheap, readily available supply of the primary fossil fuels: coal, peat, oil, and gas. So it’s not just our thinking that needs changing, it is also every piece of engineering that relies on fossil fuels, from power stations to manufacturing plant and machinery to transport and home heating. But there’s another reality. While there are some fantastic emerging technological innovations in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy production, one simple fact remains; the decisions people take will save energy more quickly than technology can.
Today you cannot buy a car, a washing machine, or new window for your home, or even a light bulb etc without knowing the carbon-emissions effect of its production, use, and demise. A whole new language has emerged worldwide to describe how we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels to meet globally agreed carbon-reduction targets. The baseline statistics and target efficiencies may vary from country to country, but the overriding need for carbon-emissions reductions and fossil fuel energy savings is the same. Climate change policy has silently embedded itself in legislation worldwide, and its not just industry, but every individual needs to quickly come up to speed with these developments because the price for not doing so will be detrimental to our very existence
As an energy auditor, I have visited numerous industrial buildings over the last few years. I have visited Factories with diverse and distinct manufacturing processes, factories with small and large energy teams, factories with best practice in terms of international environmental energy standards and factories that have achieved a wide range of energy savings across their facilities. However the most successful factories in terms of energy savings and achieving energy efficiencies all have one thing in common. That one thing is not the technology because that varies, its not international standards because they can often be a box ticking event, nor is it training because this always varies, neither is it the size of the energy team nor the size of the management budget. Equally it’s not necessarily the astute business owner, the incisive director, the team leading manager or the dedicated employee. Though it’s usually one of these. It’s the individual, who may rank anywhere in the company, who has the passion and commitment to deliver change. In other words, what they have in common is a smart energy citizen.
While the goal may be to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, the solution, if there is to be one, must firstly involve creating a new respect for energy and the part it plays in our lives. As the best philosophers tell us, ‘energy follows thinking’ so if we don’t change our thinking we are destined to destroy our world. We all need to think differently.