CHICAGO — When Schneider Electric brought 40 members of the media from the United States, Canada, and Mexico to a hotel meeting room near Chicago O’Hare Airport, it proved to be a time for officials from the energy management company to offer thoughts on the state of the energy industry from global and U.S. perspectives, as well as regarding many things green.

Jeff Drees, U.S. country president for Schneider Electric, said, “In the United States, the energy dilemma is here to stay and climate change is a political discussion. The downturn in the economy has caused great stress on the economy and the recovery forecast is uncertain.”

He suggested that “we get off climate change discussion and focus on sustainability.” He highlighted what he called “key trends impacting businesses”:

Urban migration — The electric grid must become smarter to focus on urban infrastructures.

Uncertain economic recovery — We cannot rely on a robust recovery in the construction market.

Capital expenditure spending — Uneven economic growth will create new markets, new opportunities, and new innovations.

Energy supply challenges to meet demand — Economics will improve with energy management solutions.

Regulatory activity — Policy shaping and thoughtful leadership are required. The need is for the drafting of legislation that will bring real jobs and real (energy) efficiencies.

“The U.S. knows how to forge ahead. Smarter supply and smarter demand and demand response equal the smart grid,” Drees said.


A global perspective was offered by Aaron Davis, chief marketing officer. “Energy issues are the same everywhere. Elements are acute country by country.” For companies like Schneider Electric, the objective is “to make energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive, and green.”

He did note that often building owners seek vertical solutions, meaning one vendor with multiple options; or as Davis described it, “One throat to choke.”

He said, “The great financial crisis and great climate change are linked. It takes money to solve the climate issue. The new normal is that we can’t afford climate change fiscally.”

He went on to say, “More money is spent on end user energy efficiency rather than renewable. I love pictures of windmills, but I’d rather see a lower energy bill. Every building should be efficient. Give the right data and people will do the right things.”

This then creates what he called “a closed loop system. Save power in one place to bring power to another place.”


Much was discussed during late morning and early afternoon breakout sessions. One such session found Jim Sandelin, senior vice president, buildings business, weighing in on the ongoing debate as to the value of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

“Does a green building have to be certified as green? Or is it about optimizing performance?” He noted, “The U.S. has strong codes and energy efficiency standards in place. Many state and local governments are stepping up. The economic business case for green buildings makes sense.”

State of the Company

During an afternoon session, Drees offered a state of the company address and described Schneider Electric as “taking an aggressive approach and putting on a new face.”

He said, “We are a growth company taking on new opportunities. We are no longer the best kept secret in the industry.” He noted the company’s multiple businesses in power, energy, industry, IT, and buildings.

He said, “Every business has responsibilities from products to system architecture to market solutions.”

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Publication date: 01/09/2012