Ross Parkman is the senior director of utilities, energy services and sustainability for The Ohio State University. He has been working on improving energy efficiency for the university since 2004 by tracking trends, best practices and energy alternatives. Ross sits on the OSU energy committee and oversees implementation of state, local and university energy mandates. He also organizes energy policies that regulate the 30 million square feet of campus building space that must maximize energy efficiency.
Q. What are some hurdles companies may face when initiating an energy-efficiency policy?
The biggest issue is the mindset of employees and upper management. You have to get involved in the process. The initiation has to start at the top and work down. When a halfhearted effort is made, no one will follow the lead. If there isn’t good leadership to drive the program forward, the ability to be energy-efficient just won’t work. Create initiatives, get involved personally, and provide support and education.
Q. Are there cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste?
Yes. Breaking habits of energy waste seems to be a commonsense move, yet no one does it. Shutting lights and electronics off when not being used is a huge step in the right direction. Implementing an energy efficiency policy and tracking the results can make a difference. Having good maintenance practices increases energy efficiency and is smart for the lifespan of equipment. These things do not cost anything extra. Replacing lighting requires capital, but it has a fast return. Replacing leaky windows is a smart move, but is slightly more aggressive with the money needed. All energy-saving upgrades will pay off.
Q. What steps can CEOs take to determine where their business needs to be more energy-efficient?
Getting an expert evaluation is a smart move. In this evaluation, a number will be provided, such as an ENERGY STAR rating that measures your current energy consumption. You’ll be able to track progress and see what implementations had the greatest effect on reducing energy use and waste.