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Energy efficiency is big business

It’s been a long time since energy efficiency and renewable energy was the domain of ‘deep green’ early adopters, but now, there are signs that serious money is starting to get behind it across the globe. In a piece for Guardian Sustainable Business, Chris Hummel from Schneider Electric cites a number of examples to back up this shift; from Deutsche Bank’s $104million in bonds for domestic energy efficiency alone, to a €5billion fund in France split between domestic and commercial efforts to reduce energy consumption.

‘Customer awareness’ is a reason Hummel quotes, and he certainly has a point when surveys are showing energy costs to be the biggest fears of continents. It has become something of a no-brainer that costs can’t just keep going up, and also that energy infrastructure needs modernising. As Hummel puts into numbers:

"With the International Energy Agency estimating that $8tn will get spend worldwide on efficiency between now and 2035, energy has simply become part of doing business.”

This business will involve burgeoning technologies, with LEDs noted as one of the major growers, to an estimated 75 per cent of the lighting market by 2020. Added to innovative financing plus smart meters meaning you’re going to be able to monetarily measure impacts, plus more knowledgeable people on the ground working with businesses increasingly engaged with the move towards energy efficiency, and as Hummel says, it all sounds pretty virtuous. Even more recently, the world’s largest private bank, UBS, has gone very public with strong sustainability views, from a pragmatic position.

Dismissing large, centralised energy as too big and inflexible for the future, it backs renewable energy, storage and electric cars as cheaper and more practical options for households. It even adds the words “join the revolution” to its briefing paper, which may seem somewhat surreal coming from a large financial institution. There’s a sense of urgency, then there’s diving into the detail at national level.

Here too are signs of change. You can tell when legislation and incentives around energy efficiency home improvements are being taken very seriously, for example, when the Financial Times do a full Q&A for landlords in their property law section. It is becoming increasingly easy to find signs that green ideas are taking hold in the mainstream.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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