As the big guns in Washington debate the nation's energy policy - and debate and debate and debate - it's refreshing to come across a few home-grown examples of how companies manage to cut back on energy consumption, save money and perhaps even help reduce global warming a little. A new report by Environment California Research & Policy Center, a citizen advocacy group, profiles a dozen businesses and institutions around the state that have collectively saved $13 million each year in operating costs. Here's a sampler:
HIGH TECH: Adobe Systems Inc. has implemented 45 energy efficiency and conservation projects at its San Jose headquarters. They invested $1.1 million; reduced operating costs by just over $1 million per year; cut emissions by 16 percent (more than 11 million lbs) while increasing the number of employees.
RETAIL: Westfield Corp. has upgraded lighting systems at its shopping centers with efficient technology and is expanding efforts nationwide. They expect to reduce energy costs by $2.6 million per year nationwide, paying off investments in less than 24 months while reducing global warming pollution by 40 million lbs per year nationwide.
FARMING: P-R Farms installed one of the largest privately-owned solar systems on the roof of its packing house near Fresno. The project cost $3.2 million after rebates and credits, reduced monthly electricity bills by up to 80% and will reach full payback in 10 years. Prevents 1.6 million lbs of pollution annually.
COMMUTERS: San Diego Assoc. of Governments (SANDAG) assisted employers and commuters with alternative transportation to and from work. As a result, they prevented nearly 2 million commuting trips, saved more than $50 million in fuel, and the reduced vehicle travel avoided 125 million lbs of pollution.
MANUFACTURING: Bentley Prince Street improved lighting efficiency and installed solar panels at their City of Industry carpet production facility. They reduced the cost of manufacturing a unit of carpet by 48% since 1994, saving $3.8 million in 2005 while reducing global warming pollution by 75 percent in the last decade.
MEDICAL: Children’s Hospital Central California upgraded lighting and mechanical efficiency at their Madera facility. The project saves the hospital more than $400,000 per year on energy costs; many projects paid for themselves in less than 1-2 years. Cut emissions by more than 5 million lbs annually.
BUILDER: Clarum Homes constructed the country’s largest community of zero-energy homes and apartments, Vista Montaña, in Watsonville. Homeowners save an average of 67% on their electricity bills, or over $1,200 per year while preventing roughly 2 million lbs of pollution annually.