Amory Lovins’ Inspiring Words at Virtual Energy Forum

amory-lovins-banana.jpgWednesday marked the start of the Virtual Energy Forum, billed as the World’s Largest Online Energy Conference. I was lucky enough to catch Amory Lovins’ web-cast, which he presented from Sweden where he was attending the 2009 Tallberg Forum. The Virtual Energy Forum’s presentations are in the video archives and you can view them for free once you register. The idea of a forum that requires no travel and very little resources is extremely sustainable!

A quick search on Triple Pundit yields many hits for “Amory”, but if you don’t know who the “energy-efficient design” genius behind the Rocky Mountain Institute is, then please do yourself a favor and start researching him. Not only do some of the biggest companies in the world seek out his advice, but so do entire nations. The thing I like most about Amory is that his advice is so simple and obvious, yet I’m always amazed at how so few people are following what he is preaching. As he said at the beginning of the web-cast, RMI is filled with “practitioners, not theorists”. He doesn’t seek out wild, hair-brained schemes, but simply implements efficient design principles!

The presentation, which lasted a little over an hour with time for questions at the end covered a broad range of topics . These included:

  • reducing greenhouse gasses
  • designing much more efficient cars
  • Amory’s super-efficient house in Colorado
  • the fact he grows bananas in his greenhouse
  • energy efficient commercial building retrofits
  • efficient pumping in industrial settings
  • decentralized sources of renewable energy

His advice always starts with focusing on efficiency and then looking at renewables. As he always says, a “Negawatt” (energy that is never used) is more sustainable than energy that has to be created in the first place. But the thing I am always shocked at when I listen to Amory Lovins is that while his advice and design principles make so much since and save so many people and companies so much money, there are still so few people that follow what he is preaching!

When someone typed in the question at the end concerning why more isn’t happening in regards to energy efficiency Amory replied,

Many managers don’t understand that even if energy is a small part of a businesses expense, saving it drops straight to the bottom line.

He went on to say that managers need to be more active in rewarding employees for saving energy and if a manager doesn’t pay attention to saving energy, the employees won’t either. Amory also highlighted that when employees are in a healthy work environment that fosters energy efficient and sustainable living, they are happier employees. And happier employees do better work.

I touched on the topic of the need for managers to start leading the path to sustainability in the workplace in an article I wrote on Mapawatt Blog which called for the need for more sustainable leaders. In the article I wrote:

There are companies out there that have an eye to the future, and they believe it is going to be a cleaner, more efficient one. These companies have leaders that realize what Sustainability is about, and they have hired Energy Managers to meet part of their Sustainability goals.

Amory closed with the advice that everyone (whether you are the owner or employee) needs to take action to be more sustainable and energy efficient because teaching by example is the best way there is. The design principles that Mr. Lovins preaches about and takes action on yield amazing results in energy efficiency. Many of the solutions that will make us a much more efficient society are out there, it is simply up to the public to realize the potential for implementing them.

At the end of Amory’s slide presentation he had a quote from Marshall McLuhan which sums up the reason why more achievements are not being made with existing efficiency technology and ideas.

Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity.

Take advice from Amory Lovins and educate yourself and those around you on sustainable and efficient design principles. Don’t let the big discoveries pass you by.

Chris is a graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Chris has worked in many industrial settings including the only U.S. BMW manufacturing plant and a nuclear power plant. Since graduating in 2006, he has been selling industrial automation and electrical control products to manufacturers in Georgia. This has enabled him to see many manufacturing processes and witness how energy is used in industrial settings. Chris is a huge believer in active Energy Management and the power of Sustainable Manufacturing (although he is surprised at how few companies are doing either of these). In the Spring of 2009 Chris started Mapawatt Blog, which focuses on practical energy and water conservation techniques that the individual can utilize in their home and business. He believes that the only way Sustainable practices will take root in our society and reach a tipping point is if individuals take action and become "sustainability preachers" to their friends, family and co-workers.

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