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Companies Focus On Cutting Energy Use

With oil, gas and electricity prices soaring, companies are beginning to pour more money into making old equipment energy-efficient or upgrading to cleaner models, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A recent study from the International Energy Agency showed that energy use in heavy industry could be reduced by 18 percent to 26 percent just by applying best practices and available technologies. The IEA says that light industries, like retailing and the food sector, could cut energy use by an even greater percentage because they haven’t always made efficiency a priority.

Still, most companies are moving slowly in implementing these types of changes. Should a manufacturer replace machinery that still works fine just to bring in more energy-efficient models? Or should it spend that money on  capital improvements? In some cases, companies have made all the easy fixes, leaving only expensive measures that will take years to return their cost in energy savings.

One highlights from the article:

Europe’s biggest semiconductor maker, STMicroelectronics, has focused on energy savings for the past 15 years because its former CEO, Pasquale Pistorio, was a devoted environmentalist. The effort has paid off for the Geneva-based chip maker: It saved a net $1 billion from 1994 through 2006 by revamping its factories to use less energy. The projects, which included retrofitting machines and sealing compressed-air leaks, cost about $300 million, estimates Georges Auguste, director of quality and corporate responsibility.

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