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By Allison Asplin on Apr 17, 2013 with 1 response

Welcome to High Efficiency

Welcome to High Efficiency, a new column from Energy Trends Insider. I’m your columnist, host, and resident energy-efficiency-obsessed individual, Allison Asplin. (You might remember me from my article in Eli Hinckley’s Banking Energy column, “Why Energy Efficiency and Buildings Don’t Mix.”)

First a little about who I am and what I do.

I spent eight years eating, sleeping, and breathing commercial real estate, first in brokerage at a leading global real estate services firm, then as a development manager and regional sustainability director for one of the country’s largest REITs.

Grappling with the energy performance challenges of an 80-building portfolio whetted my appetite for efficiency work, and I bolted for grad school to study energy policy. As a newly-minted Master’s degree holder, I accepted a fellowship with Bloomberg New Energy Finance to study the barriers to energy efficiency in real estate in depth. Through that research, I concluded that utilities are a crucial part of the charge toward energy efficiency, leading me to my current work evaluating energy efficiency and efficiency financing for utilities, governments, and private companies at environmental consulting firm The Cadmus Group.

Why Efficiency?

Why efficiency? It often gets lumped together with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar under the umbrella of “clean energy.” But really, in my humble opinion, it’s better.* In many cases, it takes little to no upfront cost (unlike that monster wind turbine array), and it saves money immediately for businesses, governments, and individuals (unlike expensive solar PV power).  With that kind of value proposition, it seems like everyone would be on the energy efficiency bandwagon – but that’s just not the case. This column will explore the place where the theory meets reality, and, with your help, maybe even find some answers.

Note to you dictionary sticklers out there: many of the concepts discussed under the aegis of “energy efficiency” are more accurately termed “energy conservation”; for example, motion sensors that turn off lights when a room is not in use. For the sake of this column, we’ll treat it all as “energy efficiency.”

I’m looking forward to sharing news and my views on energy efficiency with you, and to hearing your thoughts and ideas. Check back often for updates!

*No offense to renewables – they’re important too.

  1. By Russ Finley on April 17, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Welcome, Allison.

    Markets tend to seek energy efficiency when it improves profit margin. Invest too much and a return on that investment may never materialize. Cheap energy typically equates to less investment in efficiency.

    On the other hand, individuals are less profit driven than a business. People tend to buy homes (McMansions) and vehicles (the F-150 pickup holds the record for best selling car) that are much larger than they need. Improving the efficiency of a Hummer or McMansion is somewhat nonsensical. Maybe improved energy efficiency at the consumer level lies less in technology than in evolutionary psychology?.

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