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Published on March 4th, 2015 | by Joshua S Hill


Energy Efficiency Vital For A Sustainable Future

March 4th, 2015 by  

A new report has concluded that it is vital that industry improve its energy efficiency if it is to be able to meet predicted environmental and social challenges.

The report, The Role of Industry in Forging Green Cities, published by the Institute for Industrial Productivity, concludes that “the world’s cities are as diverse as the challenges that face them, but the importance of improving energy efficiency in industry is common to many.”

One of the predominant issues is the common method of pushing industry to the fringes of a city, which is also where the urban poor end up. Co-author Jigar V. Shah, Executive Director of the Institute for Industrial Productivity, notes that this method has “come at a high cost,” but adds that “creating sustainable cities will be the key to reversing this trend.

“We will need to develop more sustainable cities – that are compact, connected and well managed – and manage their hunger for energy through industrial energy efficiency processes and technology, and the smart reuse of waste and energy,” Shah said.

As the report itself concludes, “the impact of industrial pollution on the urban poor is not unique to developing countries and has been well-documented in US cities, where industrial facilities releasing toxics into the air, soil, and water tend to be concentrated in areas with higher numbers of low-income and minority residents.”

Furthermore, building green cities that meet the needs of all will require strong leadership by both national and local governments, says co-author Chris Sall.

“With more and more of the world’s population moving to the cities, we can expect a massive strain on cities’ infrastructure and resources,” says Sall. “Smart urban planning, better access to basic services, good leadership, transparent processes, and integrated authority will ensure cities are well-positioned to mobilize greater resources for energy efficiency. Cities should focus on the basics first and lay the groundwork for progressively more ambitious actions.”

Other highlights the Institute for Industrial Productivity wanted to highlight include:

  • Industrial energy demand will remain relatively flat in OECD countries and in the transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe, but it will increase dramatically in the emerging economies of Asia, including in China and India, and to a lesser extent in the Middle East and Africa.
  • Over the next few decades, industry will remain a vital feature of the global urban economy, providing more than a billion jobs and generating nearly 30 percent of economic output.
  • Greenhouse gas emission profiles of cities are varied but confirm the importance of urban industry as an end user of energy and an emitter of carbon in fast-growing regions.

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About the Author

I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket!

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  • More and more companies are moving headquarters and offices from Chicagoland sprawl back to the “loop” or the downtown. This is being done without tax incentives. It’s being done without forced marches of undesirables out to the first line suburbs to cleanup the city for high achievers. It’s being done because corporations are realizing getting workers from one suburban sprawl zone to another suburban sprawl zone is not helping them hire and retain good employees. Chicago has a hub and spoke mass transit system that’s pretty good and slowly getting better. Suburbs are improving there park and rides and bus transits to the town’s depot. We’re not talking utopia or anything, but there is a good trend. The downside of all this is the diesel rail system, the spokes of the hub and spoke, is shared with UP, BNSF, CN. There’s more and more trains carrying light sweet crude from North Dakota Bakken, through Chicago and to the east coast.

  • CR

    Unfortunately, energy efficiency is an area where people tend to lose all sense of proportionality. Thus we get hyped about energy efficient phone chargers (for instance), which affect a minuscule portion of a percentage of all electricity use, never mind all *energy* use.

    There are basically three big targets for energy efficiency on which we should concentrate almost all our efforts: transportation, industry and heating/cooling (of both spaces and food).

    Lighting can also be improved, but it’s a smaller piece of the pie and already basically “solved” – LEDs can become more efficient, but further savings have diminishing gains. Consumer electronics is a growing end use and efficiency there could help, but main gains are from commercial/industrial use of computers and should trickle down to consumers anyway because battery life sells.

    • rockyredneck

      Energy efficiency of buildings and equipment is only part of the pie. Efficient use is something that can continue to be improved after the point of diminishing returns is reached for equipment and building efficiency.
      Examples would be homes that are not larger than needed, cars that are used only when needed and the simple one that most of us think of. Turn off the lights when not needed.

  • Martin

    A number of places around the world a heading towards the goal of increased energy efficiency, reducing energy use in any way should be the first step everybody makes.

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