Kansas: Conservation, the “5th Fuel” (ENERGY QUEST USA)

Narrator: Kansas, a land of wheat, and corn, and cattle. In the heart of the country, it's number 48 out of all 50 states in energy efficiency. So this is a place where energy conservation can really make a difference. Come on, girls. Our region is a region of farmers. We are famously conservative and we have talked from the beginning about putting the conserve back in conservative. Narrator: According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to deliver more than $700 billion in cost savings in the U.S. alone. But, they say motivating consumers to take action is the key to unlocking this potential and that was the aim of Nancy Jackson's Climate and Energy project, with its Take Charge! Challenge. Kansans are patriotic, Kansans are hardworking, Kansans are humble.

Narrator: And Kansans are competitive. You all are competing against Ottawa, Baldwin City, and Paola, so really, you gotta beat those guys, yes? Do you want to help us beat Manhattan? Narrator: 2011 was the second year for the Take Charge! Challenge, a friendly competition among 16 communities arranged in four regional groups aiming to reduce their local energy use. Some of the lowest cost, most effective ways that you can take ownership of your energy future is taking ownership of the efficiency and the conservation of your house or your business. Narrator: Ray Hammarlund's office used federal stimulus dollars to fund four prizes of $100,000 for each of the four regions in the competition. Just as important as the grand prize, $25,000 went to each community to fund local coordinators who took the lead in galvanizing grassroots efforts.

Here's how the challenge worked in Iola. The challenge started in January of this year and ends October 1st. You're required to have three community events. We're going to have a lot more than that. Today, we are at the Fight The Energy Hog Festival. Becky Nilges: I love the hog. He was just so ugly that he is cute. He represents energy hogs in your home. You would probably let him in but you don't know the damage he's going to do. Narrator: Competing towns scored points by counting how many cfl bulbs and programmable thermostats were installed and how many professional home energy audits were done. Our job as energy auditors, both for commercial buildings as well as residential buildings is, we're essentially detectives.

What's happening here? Is there a great deal of air leakage? And we're finding that the majority of the houses that we're dealing with actually use a lot more energy than they need to. Narrator: In Lawrence, a house of worship did an energy audit, made changes, and got a pretty nice donation in its collection plate. David Owen: One part of the audit was to contact the power company. Well, during that process we discovered they had been overcharging us. And so we got a check, a rebate check from them for $4,456. Narrator: Other changes start small, but add up. We were a little bit worried at one point that the congregation would not accept the very bright, white type lights. So as an experiment, we took one of these chandeliers and changed all the bulbs in it to the cfls. And then we took the priest over here and we said, "which one did we do?" and he could not tell us.

So that told us it was ok to do them all. Narrator: Changing lights, adding insulation, and upgrading windows paid off. Even though it's an old building, we saved 64% on the consumption of energy in this room. Narrator: Lighting makes up about 15% of a typical home's electricity bill, and lighting all of our residential and commercial buildings uses about 13% of the nation's total electricity. But changing out old bulbs is a lot easier than paying for audits and the energy enhancements they recommend. Here's where the 2011 Take Charge! Challenge promised material assistance using stimulus funds. Ken Wagner: It's a $500 audit that costs you $100. The rest of that $500 is covered under the Take Charge Challenge program through the Kansas Energy Office. We really love the competitive spirit of the program and I think it's really raised a whole awareness of energy efficiency and the importance of energy efficiency to a lot of segments in our community here.

Narrator: Even Baldwin City bankers were grateful for financial assistance from state and federal governments. Dave Hill: Nine months ago, we installed a 14 KW solar power system. I believe the initial cost of the system was basically $65,000 and then we got a substantial grant from USDA, I believe it was $20,000. We have about $18,000 of our own money invested in the system, after all the deductions. We think it will pay out in about 7-8 years. Narrator: David Crane of NRG Energy thinks that kind of approach makes good business sense. Crane: What I say to every businessman who has a customer-facing business, think of a solar panel not only as a source of electricity, think of it as a billboard. You don't even have to write your name on it. Just put it on the top of your store and it will be sending a message to your customers that you're doing the right thing when it comes to sustainable energy. Narrator: Surveys of why conservation is hard to achieve have found that people want one-stop shopping, a place where they can find out what to do and get practical recommendations about who to hire and what it all might cost, just what this new facility was to offer.

Now it's mid-October, time for the results of the 2011 Take Charge! Challenge. MC: Fort Scott. MC: And the winner is Baldwin City. Nancy Jackson: Over 100 billion BTUs were saved as a result of this Challenge, and millions and millions of dollars in each community. Those savings come from measures that have been installed that will guarantee those savings for years to come. So the savings are enormous over time. $100,000 has a nice ring to it and it's a nice cash award for a community of our size. Our challenge now is to continue on with energy efficiency and encourage our community to save. Nancy: One of our real goals was to help people to stop thinking about energy efficiency as the things they shouldn't do, as what not to do, and think about it instead as a tremendous opportunity to both save money in the near term, and to make our electric system more resilient in the long term.

So it's about what we can do, both individually and together, and for us that feels like the real win. The United States today is twice as energy efficient as it was in the 1970s. And I think we have the capability in the decades ahead to become twice as energy efficient again. We believe this is something that can be done really anywhere with great success..

Business Can Play a Profitable Role in Combating Climate Change, with Andrew Winston

I believe that the challenges we’re facing globally as a business community and as a species are getting so large and so complex that the way we do business has to fundamentally change. And The Big Pivot is about a deep change in the priorities of business, kind of a flip from worrying about short term earnings first and then getting to some of these kind of shared challenges we have only when, you know, there’s pressure from outsiders or there’s maybe quick wins or kind of easy wins that companies can pursue. And flipping that so that we’re operating businesses in a way that tackles our biggest challenges and works back from there and says how do we do that using the tools of capitalism and markets and competition to do it most profitably. Often what people call sustainability which is not, I think, always the perfect word but the things that fall under that that are environmental or social challenges – there’s this assumption in business quite often that trying to tackle these issues will be expensive, that there’s this tradeoff, this fundamental tradeoff between trying to manage these big challenges in a profitable way and just managing your bottom line in a normal way and that it’s going to be expensive.

This myth was based in some reality for a long time. There were things that did cost more money and green products or green services – they weren’t very good for a long time so there’s a sense that green was somehow not good for business. It wasn’t out of nowhere but that’s really a dated view. We now have a situation where the challenges are so vast and the world is changing so fundamentally that the only path we have forward is to manage these issues. That’s the point of The Big Pivot so that we will find a profitable path to do it and we have so many options now. There’s a whole category of things that companies do that save money very quickly. All things that fall under kind of the banner of eco-efficiency or energy efficiency or using less. I mean in part green is about doing more with less. That’s just good business and so that part of the agenda has become much more normal in companies and they’re finding ways to cut costs dramatically. That’s the easy stuff. But we’re now finding even the things that seemed very expensive for a while like say going to renewable energy – that’s one of the examples people always use of if we’re going to go green, we’re going to put solar on our roof and it’s going to cost so much.

The cost of that has been dropping dramatically, 70-80 percent reduction in cost of, you know, using solar power in the last five years. So the economics have shifted. This is now very good for business. Almost all of the agenda of The Big Pivot is good for business in the long term, in the medium term and very often in the short term. So there isn’t this tradeoff. This is the path to growth. This is the path to innovation, to building your brand, to cutting costs and to cutting risk. All the value drivers that you can create in business, this pivot will help you enable. Climate change is arguably, and I believe really, the greatest challenge we face for humanity and I’m not alone in this. There’s now voices coming to the table that are from unusual places.

You know former U.S. Treasury Secretaries have put out a report called Risky Business that talks about how expensive this has become just for the economy and for all of our cities and how expensive it will be, how dangerous it is. They call it an existential threat. I mean these are aggressive statements. And so you’re seeing people starting to create a bigger social movement because we need that too. For a change this big it isn’t just business or government but citizens need to be involved. Recently in New York City there was a very large climate march. I took part with my family and me and 400,000 of my closest friends. And it got very little attention in the press. There’s a very strange thing that’s happened where, I don’t know, climate change is boring, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t seem exciting and so it doesn’t get the coverage it needs. And it’s kind of shocking because this was one of the largest public demonstrations around anything environmental, I think, ever. And it was one of the larger marches in New York history.

And yet it kind of missed the boat for the press and I think that’s the fault of the press more than of people. I think people and I find businesses are much more aware of these issues and are moving on them than anybody covering it will give them credit for. And it’s a shame. I think there’s an opportunity to highlight how far we’ve come and the opportunities we have to change our lives for the better and make business a part of the solution and make it, you know, more prosperous and more profitable. And I think we’re missing out on telling that story..