June 26, 2006 | General

Energy-Saving Techniques Used By Companies

BioCycle June 2006, Vol. 47, No. 6, p. 50
From Kyoto and Tokyo to Ontario, California, firms show commitment to curbing emissions and setting renewable energy targets.

A Japanese company is taking major steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its vehicles. Based in Kyoto, Japan, Sagawa Express handles about 940 million packages annually (2004 data). Its goal is to become the number one logistics company in Asia using its 20,000 vehicles while reducing CO2 emissions. Currently, the transportation sector accounts for 20 percent of Japan’s total CO2 emissions.
In 2003, Sagawa became the first business in the transportation sector to join the Climate Savers Program developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Participating companies are required to set a net greenhouse gas reduction target greater than their current target and to accept inspections. After a year of preparations, Sagawa announced its commitment to reduce total CO2 emissions by six percent by 2012. Sagawa Express has also started to build its own natural gas (NG) stations to service larger numbers of CNG vehicles.
Another development in Tokyo aims to boost use of renewable energy to about 20 percent by 2020. On April 3, 2006, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) described its strategy as valuable not only as a measure against global warming, but also as a tool for the development of disaster prevention measures in a city that faces the risk of periodic earthquakes, while creating business opportunities for new potential growth industries.
In fiscal 2003, Tokyo’s renewable energy use accounted for only about 2.7 percent of total energy consumption, prompting the city to review energy use and consider plans for reducing energy consumption. To expand renewable energy use, the TMG will consider measures such as disclosing information on actual renewable energy use and adopting policies that encourage use of set levels of renewable energy in overall energy projects.
To implement the strategy, the TMG will collaborate with businesses and citizens interested in the wider use of renewable energy. Some concrete measures in the strategy include increasing green procurement of electricity, seeking donations and investments from citizens and corporations for introducing solar power systems at public facilities, developing attractive, comfortable energy-saving houses, and encouraging greater use of solar heat in housing.
For Timberland, an outdoor clothing company based in Ontario, California, reducing carbon emissions has become a major goal. According to CEO Jeffrey Swartz, the company considered such options as buying power generated by renewable resources, building a wind farm, and setting up banks of solar panels – finally deciding to use all those methods.
The United States is responsible for 25 percent of all carbon dioxide sent into the atmosphere each year, explains The New York Times. At today’s fossil fuels consumption rates, the Department of Energy estimates that carbon emissions in the U.S. could rise to more than 8 billion tons by 2030. In Europe, companies that exceed emission limits must buy carbon credits. As specified by the trading system, cost of carbon credits reached $39/metric ton last month. Only 86 companies in the U.S. have enrolled in Climate Leaders, the EPA program to cut emissions.
Major strides have been made by corporations with operations outside the U.S. IBM and DuPont won savings from lower manufacturing costs while decreasing emissions. At DuPont, savings from energy projects totaled $2 billion over the last 15 years. IBM has saved $115 million since 1998 by avoiding 1.3 million tons of carbon emissions.
The nation’s largest utilities – Exelon and Duke Energy – report they favor a mandatory cap on emissions, recommending they prefer firm rules “that would level the playing field for everyone.” A senior executive at Duke Energy told a Senate committee that “customers and shareholders need greater certainty.” Meanwhile, California and nine Northeastern states have drawn up plans to limit carbon emissions. And the author of The End of Nature, Bill McKibben, observes that there is no single answer to global warming: “What people don’t get is the scale of what needs to be done. Anybody whose solution includes the phrase ‘in 20 years’ hasn’t quite caught on to where we are.” – J.G.

Sign up