A couple weeks ago, you may have noticed we published The Case for Energy Efficiency – That Our Mothers Understand not entirely out of coincidence, just before Mother’s Day. That described how to keep messaging simple so common folk can understand the benefits. This week we feature the opposite – how not to promote energy efficiency. The first and dominant rule is to avoid anything that has a whiff of politics.
I declare myself an armchair amateur political scientist having followed and read much about politics for more than 25 years. The political spectrum is not a straight line in my view, with Democrat/Liberals on one end and Republican/Conservatives on the other. Instead, it is a solid circle as depicted in my cartoon. The far left and the far right actually converge on a bunch of issues like the United States’ role in foreign interventions (none) and legalization of all narcotics and other illegal drugs.
As shown, there are zealots and zombies who either go along to get along, or they can’t think for themselves and always root for one party and everything they stand for, regardless of the issue. This is like cheering for one’s favorite NFL team. It is a social function and these people root for the team because that’s what their parents and friends do/have always done – and they are as excited or more excited to see the other team lose as they are to see their team win.
Take this article regarding the current status of energy efficiency in Ohio. The crux of this article is that if Ohio programs are cut, our national security risks will increase because of climate change. There went half the country. Climate change will lead to global conflict and conversely, if we just had more LEED Gold buildings it would lead to world peace. That’s what the article indicates – no joke. I do not believe thugs like Assad, Vlady, and Rouhani take their cues from the size of the polar ice caps.
Consider when a jerk player or coach on your favorite NFL team pulls an embarrassing stunt – obscene gestures, domestic altercation, fighting, acting like he just won a billion dollars for making a tackle or a catch for a first down, etc. It’s embarrassing, and if you’re not embarrassed by this, see the zombie/zealot bookends above.
World peace by energy efficiency programs falls into this category for me. Hand, meet forehead. It is the crazy uncle at the family dinner – just stay in the basement.
Another case of blind political ambition that does our industry no good involves President Obama’s recently delivered address regarding energy efficiency at a Silicon Valley Walmart. This facility demonstrates a number of energy efficient and renewable energy features. Indeed for large companies, Walmart has been a leader in energy efficiency for at least 10 years.
For this, the President was blasted by the left because to them, Walmart is the Dallas Cowboys or Oakland Raiders of their heyday. It doesn’t matter what they do, just scorn them even if they currently suck – or in the case of Walmart, work to save energy. It seems they are more upset because Walmart isn’t pure Darth Vader.
Needless to say, I think the President’s support and praise of Walmart’s efforts to reduce waste and promote efficiency is a good thing.
To further demonstrate the case for sticking with an all-encompassing universal message (save energy and money), Danielle Marquis and Kelsey Cummings from SmartWatt Energy discussed one such finding at last week’s AESP Spring Conference in Baltimore. The title of their presentation was, “Sustainability Branding – Where Green is a Dirty Word”. I’ll spare the details. The title succinctly describes the message. Common folk in SmartWatt’s particular program jurisdiction didn’t want to hear about green, environment, and sustainability. The campaign’s focus on community brought the town together, and the visible EE improvements to a small grocery store made for a better experience for everyone in the town, and increased sales to boot.
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