As soon as they are broadcast over the news or blasted to our smart phones, headlines linked to negative environmental issues like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill cause public stocks or financial interests in a company to immediately plummet. Now, more than ever, corporate social responsibility is directly tied to a company’s bottom-line, and most people would not choose to invest in, or even partner with, any entity having questionable practices that negatively affect the environment or the community in which it operates. The energy industry, because it primarily relies on the earth’s resources (i.e., natural gas, oil, coal, etc), draws considerably more attention to its accountability measures and standards. Environmental advocates across the globe are pressing nations to raise standards that will help reduce or mitigate the negative impacts we experience as it pertains to current energy production methods.
Responsible energy production will become crucial to the advancement of our economy, but how we reduce our consumption of energy should also provide an important catalyst for our progress. Presently, America holds less than 5% of the world’s population, but we consume more than 25% of the world’s oil. As the world’s population increases, Americans will have to take greater initiative in energy consumption as other developing nations seek larger shares of the world’s energy resources. The future of our nation’s energy infrastructure will be driven by notions of how we view energy responsibility and the actions we are willing to take that support progressive changes in how we produce and consume energy. This week in the Green Insider, we present three ways businesses or individuals can practice energy responsibility.
• Ensure that energy production in your community is closely monitored.
The average oil refinery, petrochemical company, or power grid is placed within close proximity of a minority neighborhood. These “fence line communities” welcome the job opportunities these industries bring but many environmentalists warn of the long-term health-related issues associated with living and working near and in these facilities. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ECHO (Enforcement & Compliance History Online) website to check air and water quality or other information and regulation standards near energy producing facilities in your community.
• Know your impact by understanding your energy consumption and carbon footprint. Energy responsibility begins by understanding how you or your business consumes energy. By estimating your emissions, you can see what various actions you can take to conserve energy and reduce your environmental impact or carbon footprint.
• Take advantage of incentives that encourage responsible energy consumption. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Since the program was implemented, more than 200,000 homes have been weatherized.
Join us Nov. 8, 2010 as Black Enterprise and Shell invite you to participate in a forum that will focus on energy security and responsibility. You can also join in on the conversation at the Black Enterprise + Shell Energy Forum Web site, and register for a chance to attend this exclusive event.