Auto Industry Drives Toward Sustainable Profits

Honda 2015 Fit Taken By Bill Roth Green Business Coach NAIASThe auto industry has stopped waiting for governments to enact energy policy. Responding to their customers’ concerns on pump prices and emissions the auto industry is taking the initiative by launching price-competitive cars and trucks that met consumer expectations on fuel costs, Energy Independence and human health. Consumer are responding by voting with their pocketbooks in support of the industry’s efforts. Projections are that 2014 will set records for vehicle sales plus record high new car fleet MPG. Continue reading

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Ford Bets The Company On Aluminum F-150 PickUp Truck

Ford Smart F-150Ford Motor Company has bet its future on the launch of a precedent-setting aluminum body F-150 pickup truck. This is no small bet. The F-150 is the number one selling vehicle in America. It has been the number one selling pickup truck for over thirty years. If Ford’s bet pays off then they will have pushed the world auto industry onto a new course similar to what Ford achieved launching the Mustang in 1964. If they are wrong then this F-150 might be the next Edsel. Continue reading

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Five CSR Game Changers That Will Drive 2014 Profits

In 2013 corporate social responsibility moved from “do good” actions to being a business best practice. The following five 2014 CSR game changers will accelerate the links between profits, environmental responsibility and social good: Continue reading

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Three Steps To Zero Net Energy Commercial Buildings

SDG&E Energy Innovation Center Bill Roth green business coachRemember December 4, 2013 in terms of your commercial building and its potential to achieve zero net energy. This is the date that Solar City began offering a 10-year lease for their Tesla-based battery technology to commercial businesses. The lease’s financial attractiveness is its guarantee of a 20% reduction in a commercial building’s kW demand. The demand charge in many electric utility rate designs for commercial buildings can account for up to half of the total monthly bill. Solar City’s lease that guarantees a performance result allows a business to avoid a significant upfront cash investment while still realizing positive cash flows when the monthly lease payment is lower than the electric bill savings achieved by reducing kW charges. Offerings like Solar City’s that supply both advanced technologies and guaranteed financial results are the first wave of a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) technology revolution that will reshape your hotel, store, office building or warehouse into a “smart building.” This article outlines the three steps for turning your commercial building into a ZNE building. Continue reading

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Five 2013 CSR Best Practices That Grew Profits

The Secret Green Sauce by Bill Roth CSR green business coach Corporate social responsibility made the leap in 2013 from being a “do good” corporate responsibility to a best practice for growing profits. During 2013 my Triple Pundit articles profiled businesses and business leaders that successfully won customers and cut costs by making a difference. The top five 2013 CSR profit-making best practices were:

  1. Selling affordable good food
  2. Winning customers with trustworthy behavior
  3. Turning trash into cash
  4. Gaining competitive advantage by deploying clean technologies
  5. Hiring women leaders

Continue reading

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How To Cut Your Fuel Costs By 15 Cents Per Gallon!

Here’s the easiest and least-costly way to reduce your pain at the fuel pump. Everyday we collectively waste four million gallons of gasoline due to low tire pressure. It is estimated that a quarter of our automobiles and about a third of light trucks (including sport utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks) have one or more tires underinflated by 8 pounds per square inch (psi) or more below the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. The fuel waste penalty from underinflated tires is 1.5 billion gallons per year. At $3.50 per gallon we are collectively throwing away $5.25 billion a year from having underinflated tires. On an individual basis if you have underinflated tires it is estimated the fuel penalty is equal to paying 12-15 cents per gallon more in fuel costs! Continue reading

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Title 24 And The Zero Net Energy Home Design By Stanford University

DSC_0031Generation Z, the first generation born in the 21st Century, will most likely buy a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) home as their first new home purchase. A ZNE home, and its promise of low or no monthly utility bills, aligns with this generation’s fiscal prudence gained through their family’s Great Recession experiences. The incorporation of Information Age technologies in ZNE homes will be attractive to this generation that probably held a smart phone or tablet computer before holding a book. And when this generation is ready to buy their first home their purchase options will be shaped by emerging public policy like California’s Title 24 building code revisions that target all new residential construction being ZNE by 2020.

What is a zero net energy home?

The simplest definition for a ZNE home is a home that annually generates onsite renewable energy that is equal to its annual energy consumption. Today this definition is already being achieved by thousands of home owners across the U.S. that have installed roof top solar systems that generate enough electricity to turn their meters back to an annual net zero. But this current solar path to ZNE ignores the economic and environmental benefits of smart and energy efficiency technologies. It is also being challenged by electric utilities claiming a distortion in the cost allocation of grid services when a homeowner can avoid payment to the utility while still using the grid to supply their home with electricity.

California is launching revised building codes in 2014 that approach ZNE home design through a sequence of steps with the last step being the use of onsite renewable energy generation. California’s approach first targets reduction in a home’s energy demand and energy consumption. One key step is the installation of smart building technologies that enable a building’s operation to achieve performance goals measured by cost, reductions in environmental impacts and reduced stress on the electricity grid during peak periods. A second key step is the installation of energy efficiency technologies that reduce consumption and related generation emissions.

Comprehensive building solutions

The design of ZNE homes will be based on an emerging concept of comprehensive building design. Home design will be anchored upon four technologies that can be integrated into a system designed to reduce costs and environmental impacts while also increasing occupants’ comfort levels and productivity. The four components of comprehensive building design are:

  1. smart building systems that will not only operate a building but can arbitrage between forward-looking building operations paths
  2. energy efficiency lighting and HVAC systems
  3. roof top solar systems and/or other sources of onsite renewable generation
  4. onsite battery systems that be charged with renewable electricity and dispatched to displace more expensive grid electricity or displace the environmental emissions tied to using fossil fueled grid electricity

The information age technologies incorporated into a comprehensive solution ZNE home will enable home operations to realize target performance results measured by:

  • occupant comfort and productivity
  • cost optimization across a range of options including energy efficiency, onsite generation, grid purchases and use of onsite battery storage
  • demand avoidance during critical grid-peak time periods
  • reduced environmental impacts

A ZNE home by Stanford University

Stanford University has commissioned a ZNE home as part of their participation in DOE’s Solar Decathlon event. The home will be used by a University work associate and his family that works off campus. The following six minute video interview is with Jacob Schaffert, the lead architect for Stanford’s ZNE home. In this video Jacob outlines the project’s design path, its costs and the design innovations for achieving mass production of ZNE homes.

About the author

This article draws from Bill Roth’s coaching program for trade professionals entitled “How To Grow Sales From Title 24 Code Revisions” that was conducted on November 5, 2013 at the San Diego Gas & Electric Energy Innovation Center.  Bill Roth is an economist and the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches business owners and leaders on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles business case studies of pioneering best practices that are proven to win customers and grow product revenues. Follow him on Twitter: @earth2017

Related articles on Title 24 and ZNE buildings:
Zero Net Energy Buildings: Financing and General Contractor Issues
California Adopts Zero Net Energy Building Design Through Title 24 Code Revisions

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