Ingersoll-Rand Busts Energy Myths
Ingersoll Rand is a company that knows sustainability.
The company, which is comprised of several different arms including small-wheel electric vehicle Club Car, HVAC systems company Trane, and industrial refrigeration company Thermo King, has made great efforts to be a greener, leaner business.
In 2010, it launched the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (CEES) in order to make its operations more sustainable across the board. The center also focuses on outreach and education, ensuring Ingersoll Rand’s employees and the communities it serves understand the value and importance of sustainability.
CEES’ executive director Scott Tew believes a more sustainable business is more than a smart business decision: it’s necessary.
“This is the trend, no matter the business, small or large: expectations related to sustainability are rising, and they're rising across the entire value chain,” he said.
While this is the case, there are several myths surrounding sustainable operations that Tew believes are just that: myths.
Myth #1: Simply performing an energy audit will make your business more energy efficient.
“Many people think that energy audits are the best way to become more energy efficient,” Tew explained. “Everyone runs out and does an energy audit, whether it's at the home or office. Some companies hire others to go out and do an energy audit. I think that energy audits can be very valuable, but they really have to be connected to an overall objective that's clear from the beginning.”
Tew likens the notion to going to a restaurant, intending to eat, and leaving with only a menu—never ordering any food.
“That doesn't really help fill you up, nor does it help satisfy you,” he said. That's sort of what people have done with energy audits. People do them and they're left with a big list of to-dos and possibilities, but in the end, sometimes it’s almost too many options. It could be anything from lighting, to adjusting how people behave, to figuring out what to do with window tinting; it's just a variety of options that are there. Unless you're clear about what you're after up front—sometimes it’s that your employees need to be more productive—it changes the things that are audited.”
Establishing these upfront objectives, Tew said, is vital to using an energy audit for actual forward progress within an organization. Objectives allow for targeted change and steer the audit toward the expected goal.
“If the objective is to save money, it changes the audit somewhat. If the objective is to get what you can get with a two-year payback, it will change how the audit is conducted. It's really important you're clear about the objective up front.
Myth #2: Energy efficiency does not mean using less energy.
“Many people think that using less energy is the same as being energy efficient and I would say that's necessarily the case,” Tew said.
A major focus for Ingersoll Rand as a company is quality of life and it firmly believes comfort is king—and they shouldn’t have to give anything up to achieve it.
“People that believe energy efficiency is about giving something up and that's not the way we understand energy efficiency,” he said. “What we want is we want our energy use to be more productive, meaning that we get more from what's used, not that we have to give up something.”
Tew said that giving up something for so-called energy efficiency is akin to turning down the heat and putting on a sweater sitting in the dark in order to save energy.
“I don't think we're asking anyone to sit in the dark or be uncomfortable,” he said. “I believe we can have comfort and good lighting and we can still be energy efficient, meaning we can do some things to make the energy that we are using be more productive and still use the same or less than we've used in the past. We don't believe you have to compromise quality of life or comfort to achieve with that there all the time.”
Myth #3: Energy efficiency is expensive.
“This is probably the biggest myth that's out there,” Tew said. “When you ask your neighbor or someone on the street why they haven't done more, they typically say, 'Oh, it's too expensive' or 'It's not for me.'”
Tew said that of the three, this one is the purest myth, because “never before have we seen the parity that we see now with efficiency and everything else.” He also explained that the differences between short and long term costs are factors that not everyone understands, but awareness is certainly growing.
“I think LED lighting has helped homeowners and consumers begin to think about even long term cost of a bulb versus the short term cost of incandescent,” he said. “At least we're all learning that. That goes for any scale, such as a commercial scale or at an industrial facility where you're trying to decide whether or not you should invest in it. The answer is, if you're thinking long term—because efficiency is a long term asset—improvements and efficiencies pay back over the long term.”
Tew makes it clear that sometimes sustainability means playing the long game.
“These are not only next-day pay backs,” he noted. “These are not only next month pay backs. We're seeing more and more people understand that and when you understand that, the myth that efficiency is expensive goes away.”
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Toyota unveils electric van and Volvo opens fuel cell lab
Toyota is launching its first zero emission battery electric vehicle, the Proace Electric medium-duty panel van, across Europe.
The model, which offers a choice of 50 or 75kWh lithium-ion batteries with range of up to 205 miles, is being rolled out in the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
At present, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs, including battery electric vehicles) account for only a fraction – around 1.8 per cent – of new light commercial van sales in the UK, but a number of factors are accelerating demand for practical alternatives to vans with conventional internal combustion engines.
Low and zero emission zones are coming into force to reduce local pollution and improve air quality in urban centres, at the same time as rapid growth in ecommerce is generating more day-to-day delivery traffic.
Meanwhile the opening of Volvo's first dedicated fuel cell test lab in Volvo Group, marks a significant milestone in the manufacturer’s ambition to be fossil-free by 2040.
Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with the resulting chemical reaction producing electricity. The process is completely emission-free, with water vapour being the only by-product.
Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE, says fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides another vital tool in its work to reach targets.
"The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing," he said.
The Fuel Cell Test Lab is a demonstration of the same dedication to hydrogen fuel cell technology, as the recent launch of cell centric, a joint venture by Volvo Group and Daimler Truck to accelerate the development, production and commercialization of fuel cell solutions within long-haul trucking and beyond. Both form a key part of the Group’s overall ambition to be 100% fossil free by 2040.