Economics expert discusses benefits of energy-efficient business practices
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:01
Energy economics expert Joseph Stanislaw visited the Hill Monday night to host a dialogue addressing the implications of changes in the energy system to global security, safety and stability.
Stanislaw focused mainly on the economic benefits that can be achieved through widespread adoption of systems that use less energy and how the Internet can be used to accomplish this goal.
"[The Internet] is the biggest job-creating machine ever," he said. "We're talking about how to use information to drive resource reduction."
The event, titled "Energy in a Changing World," consisted of a brief lecture by Stanislaw followed by a question-and-answer session. It was co-sponsored by the Fletcher Energy Consortium and the Tufts Energy Forum.
Stanislaw is founder of an advisory firm, The JAStanislaw Group, LLC, and co-founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, an energy research consultancy in which he has held the positions of president and CEO. He is also Independent Senior Advisor to the Energy & Resources group of Deloitte, LLP and is an adjunct professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
Stanislaw began the lecture with an assessment of the current state of our energy system. He explained his theory that companies can expand profits through adopting clean and energy-efficient technologies.
"We're hitting a transformation point," he said. "Most of the world doesn't realize it's started. Energy is not oil, gas, wind, coal or anything like that. Energy is an enabler for a new stage of economic growth and development."
Stanislaw went on to address the significance of energy developments, noting their importance as watershed moments throughout history in improving and changing the society that we live in.
"From fire to water to the water wheel, all the changes in energy sourcing we've had have led to transformation in society," he said. "We're in one of those right now."
He underscored the importance of the Internet and software technology as means for cleaner and more effective energy usage.
Stanislaw used Nestle as an example of a company that uses such technology, citing the corporation's use of smartphones to connect dairy farmers in China and Pakistan with instant feedback from its headquarters in Switzerland.
Each farmer inputs farming and production data and is then given instant feedback on how to use less water and grain in an effort to make the entire company more sustainable and energy-efficient without affecting the success of their output.
Stanislaw expressed frustration that so many industries have failed to adopt this type of technology.
"This can be and should be happening in every industrial service and process and in every single government, and it's not," he said.
He also took issue with the fact that many companies lack a comprehensive energy strategy and a willingness to address their energy usage and energy needs.
"Six percent [of companies] have no clue how they actually use energy or what that energy does," he said. "It's like throwing things in a grocery basket and not knowing what you paid for."
Small entrepreneurial enterprises led by ambitious individuals are the key to finding solutions to future energy problems, Stanislaw said.
He also discussed a theory he called the "power of one," describing it as the ability of individuals to change the nature of basic societal systems.
"You're the first generation where every single individual every single day can make a difference for the planet," he said.
He emphasized the importance of convincing individuals, corporations and governments that switching to cleaner energy will be beneficial for all of them in the future.
"Everything I'm talking about is a mindset issue," he said. "We have to change that."