Please tell us your job responsibilities and day to day activities.
As executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency & Sustainability at Ingersoll Rand (CEES), I’m responsible for forward-looking sustainability initiatives. The CEES supports all of the company’s strategic brands – Club Car, Ingersoll Rand, Trane and Thermo King – and has been around since 2010.
Since then, we’ve successfully exceeded our long-term goals in energy use and waste reduction, while embedding sustainability in all parts of the product development process. Our team’s efforts have led to the development of world-class initiatives, including the creation of a green product portfolio (EcoWise), personalized employee engagement programs, and unique research on unmet needs in the green space. I also manage all sustainability-related public transparency, advocacy, reporting and goal setting initiatives for the company.
Tell us your biggest challenge in 2018 and how you are addressing it.
This year is a big year for Ingersoll Rand – particularly on renewable energy. Our overall strategy for renewable energy boils down to diversifying our energy mix and being thoughtful about how we source energy. I think we’re going to see an explosion of renewable purchases over the next two years generally and it’s important to Ingersoll Rand and to our customers for us to lead the way.
As part of the industrial sector, we can also be an example to other companies on how to successfully make the jump to renewables and energy efficiency. As we’ve worked through how best to implement this across our business, we’re hoping other industrial companies and companies outside of our industry can use a similar roadmap for their own operations.
Is there a specific recent project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Any tips you can share that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects?
Ingersoll Rand recently announced that we reached a significant energy efficiency milestone as part of our global Climate Commitment, increasing energy efficiency by 10% across the company – 2 years before our original commitment date. To achieve this increased efficiency, we used our own expertise from our energy services business and products to deliver on our energy efficiency goals. This followed the same approach we recommend to our thousands of customers in the building, transport and industrial spaces.
We’re also investing in on-site solar panels at some of its facilities around the world, with the goal of reducing 15% of the company’s energy load at these site. Additionally, we invested in a virtual power purchase agreement (PPA) with Infinity Renewables, replacing 32% of our energy use in the US with green energy.
For other companies wondering if they should make a renewables commitment, you should ask yourself three major questions:
—Why? There should always be an answer to this.
—What is the risk associated? Evaluate for each stakeholder.
—What is the worst case scenario?
If you can address and answer all three questions, you should look into a sustainability or renewables plan. This is no longer just for big companies like Google. Environmental efficiency is for every company, across industries.
I also can’t stress enough how important it is for companies to forge partnerships and explore a variety of options. If something isn’t working, try a different approach, and work with different partners to achieve different aspects of environmental efficiency.
Please tell us what you see in the market in the next few years. What will be the biggest challenges the industry will face?
The next frontier of energy efficiency, in my mind, will be a shift toward energy productivity. At a certain point, things become extremely efficient. We can’t get to a point where operations aren’t using any energy at all, so the next opportunity is to figure out how to decouple energy use from production output.
We’re asking ourselves how we can produce the same amount of output while using less and less overall energy. In other words, we’re making sure the energy we consume is as productive as possible. Transportation, smart manufacturing and building management are all prime places to begin developing these solutions.
Tell us about a favorite hobby, passion, or book you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you.
I grew up on a small family farm and the seven generations before me were all farmers. Naturally, any activity that takes me outdoors is on a short list of interests particularly gardening – vegetables, a small orchard and perennial flowers – and serves as link and connection between my work and life. I’ve been studying the concepts of resiliency for the past year and gardening is a great teacher of tenacity and perseverance, both important qualities for becoming more resilient.