Friday, June 10, 2005

Driving Efficiency

In their book, "Natural Capitalism," Paul Hawkin and Amory Lovins (of the Rocky Mountain Institute) advocate the greening of American Commerce by taking advantage of efficiencies in production systems often otherwise overlooked. They advocate things like insulating a warehouse rather than pay out the nose for heat tin-walled warehouse with an R Value of 4, or aligning blast furnaces next to rolling mills to eliminate the need to re-heat coils of steel before rolling them. Simple efficiencies that, when accomplished, make people wonder why they weren't simply implemented in the first place.

Cheers to Ed Rendell for catching onto this kind of stuff. Eddie, whose common sense approach to government cost-cutting often revolves around buying more efficient light-bulbs and replacing old windows and furnaces, set his sights on the state auto pool. The state, according to the the Post Gazette, looks set to save a pile of cash due to the elimination of gas guzzling SUV's and keeping cars longer. This common sense approach to economics, practiced by families but never by government, colors Rendell's approach to cost-savings. Other Rendell supported projects include a state program started under Tom Ridge: building green office buildings. Though the upfront costs are expensive, Government typically settles into an office building for a minimum of 5 or 6 decades. Highly energy efficient office buildings will save the state millions in the long run in heat, water and employee health insurance, while adding little additional cost to the debt service on the buildings.

Like the addage goes, its always the little things that kill you... those nickel and dime heat and gas bills that lawmakers usually ignore have a bigger impact on the state budget, but not enough sex appeal to draw an election-focused lawmaker's attention. If Eddie is right on this one, lower operating costs on our vehicles and buildings mean real savings for Pennsylvania, whether it ever makes it off of page 4 of the Region Section or not.

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