Pending federal legislation formed one component of a meeting attended by more than 40 leaders in industry, finance, research, and policy.
The event in Carlsbad, Calif., another in a series of Danfoss EnVisioneeringSM symposiums, also included discussions on climate change, energy efficiency, and refrigerants.
Robert Wilkins, president of Danfoss in North America, said, “Never before has the industry been at the forefront of so many critical global issues as it is at this moment. The economic trends we currently face are influencing collective business decisions today that will shape decades to come.”
Two speakers described climate change bills that are currently in Congress, and how the legislation, if passed, would significantly impact the industry, increasing energy-efficiency demands, and dramatically reducing the use of HFC refrigerants.
Kevin Fay, president of Alcalde & Fay, a government relations and public affairs firm focusing on atmospheric and energy policy issues, said the political environment in Washington today with Democrats gaining control of both houses of Congress and the White House means energy, energy security, and green jobs should be high on the Obama administration’s agenda, and they will likely be part of an economic stimulus bill in early 2009.
Fay stated, “I think there is tremendous opportunity in terms of energy-efficiency improvements and programs for the industry at large, if we find a way to position ourselves on that.”
He projected that climate change legislation would not pass before late 2009 or 2010, but pointed out that 2008 bills in both the Senate and House of Representatives had common approaches that could become the foundation for new legislation in the next Congress. For example, both Senate and House bills separate HFC refrigerants from other greenhouse gases, and establish a specific target to reduce HFC global-warming contribution by nearly 80 percent over the next four decades.
David McIntosh, who served as Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s counsel and legislative assistant for energy and the environment from April 2006 through September 2008, noted implications legislation could have on the HVACR industry should that legislation mandate a phase-down of HFC refrigerants. According to McIntosh, both the Senate and House committees authoring 2008 climate change bills recognized the important role HFC refrigerants play in today’s high-efficiency air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, which could temper the phase-down pressure.
McIntosh said future energy legislation could include “mandates on new energy-efficiency standards among manufacturers as well as subsidies and tax incentives for the manufacturers and the purchasers of the equipment,” suggesting the Congress and administration could look to state initiatives as possible models for legislation, as well as previous federal initiatives.
He also expects the Obama administration would enunciate a basic plan for climate change, outlining principles such as cap and trade, targets, and timetables. Specific objectives could be outlined for industries such as transportation, electric utilities, and HVACR. With such an outline, Congress could then begin work on specific portions of the agenda without having to write a comprehensive bill that addresses all aspects.
In addition to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee that produced bills in 2008, McIntosh suggested that the financial dimensions of the climate change issue would draw the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee into the issue. Senior staffs from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy are also expected to recommend input to legislation. He urged the HVACR industry to closely follow these committees and agencies.
ENERGY EFFICIENCIESKateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, focused on the opportunities for growth in a new energy-focused economy. Highlights of her presentation included:
• Energy efficiency has been powering a major portion of the U.S. economy for more than 30 years and must play an even larger role in the nation’s energy future. Nevertheless, representing only about 4.5 percent of the world’s population, the United States is the world’s largest energy producer and consumer, with consumption outpacing production, resulting in the need for significant energy imports.
• By capturing the potential energy savings available from existing technologies, global energy demand growth could be cut by one-half or more in the next 15 years.
• Better and more strongly enforced building codes must be part of the solution. Callahan added that, according to the Energy Information Administration, the CO2 emissions of the U.S. building sector are almost equal to the total CO2 emissions of India and Japan combined.
John Christmas, senior vice president of Hannon Armstrong Capital, focused on emerging techniques being used to finance energy efficiency in commercial buildings. He stressed that energy savings enhances building financial performance, mitigates risk, improves comfort and productivity, and in doing these things, is demonstrated to increase property values.
Joseph Turk, president of PWI Energy Inc., a Johnson Controls energy service company, focused on change and selflessness.
“We cannot wait for Congress to make changes on energy-efficiency policy. We - as individuals, as an industry - need to solve the problem. We need to change the way we live to support changes in energy efficiency. And, the companies that are doing that already are creating business opportunities for the future.”
Publication date: 02/02/2009