Schneider Electric, Harris Interactive
Eighty-eight percent of Fortune 1000 senior executives feel business has a moral responsibility beyond regulatory requirements to make their companies more energy efficient, according to poll released by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Schneider Electric.
Eighty-eight percent of Fortune 1000 senior executives feel business has a moral responsibility beyond regulatory requirements to make their companies more energy efficient, according to poll released by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Schneider Electric. Most respondents (61 percent) say that potential cost savings are their biggest motivator to save energy at the enterprise level, outranking environmental concerns (13 percent) and government regulations (2 percent).
The independent survey of more than 300 senior executives at Fortune 1000 companies sought to understand executive attitudes toward energy efficiency. The survey revealed that while three-quarters of all executives reported the importance of saving energy increased in their organizations during the past two years, the bottom line still prevails when making decisions to implement enterprisewide programs.
Sixty-one percent of respondents cite potential savings as the key driver in making their organizations more sustainable, stating that their companies would be motivated to use less if there was an energy management solution that could save them money. Cost savings was by far the most widely cited factor among the executives, with the remaining respondents reporting the following:
Environmental benefits: Thirteen percent cited stewardship of the environment to be a main motivator.
CEO mandate: Ten percent said their companies would use less energy if their CEOs required it.
Education: Seven percent said if they knew how to reduce consumption, they would change behavior.
Increased cost: Seven percent said their companies would use less energy if it were a more expensive product.
Government regulation: A mere 2 percent of respondents said they would use less only if it were required by law.
“The findings of the survey reinforce what we’re hearing daily from our customers,” said Christopher Curtis, president and CEO of Schneider Electric in North America. “Business leaders want to be good corporate citizens regarding their energy management; they often just don’t know where to start. At the same time, we’re in the process of emerging from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, requiring cost savings to be a key part of the solution. We are beginning to see energy management services become a strategic asset for companies looking to save money.”
Executives Divided on Cap-and-trade Impact
The survey also shows near evenly split opinions from executives on the business impact of putting a price on carbon, revealing little confidence in a cap and trade policy’s leading to increased sustainability practices among companies. The majority are divided between two beliefs: that cap-and-trade policies will be ineffective or will be effective only if the generated revenues enable companies to be more energy-efficient.
Forty percent said cap-and-trade policies will not result in increased energy efficiency; rather it likely will cause industries to emit the same amount of carbon prior to the policies and charge more for products to cover business costs.
Thirty-eight percent said cap-and-trade policies will result in increased energy efficiency only if the revenue generated is applied directly to research and development, social programs and initiatives that enable companies, industries or both to use less energy.
Twenty-two percent said cap-and-trade policies definitely will result in increased energy efficiency because it will force industries to adopt energy efficiency technologies and practices to scale back on carbon emissions.
“We as business leaders or government cannot be neutral or indecisive when it comes to carbon management,” Curtis said. “The simple truth is we’re sitting on the sidelines when it comes to devising industry-accepted standards and requirements for de-carbonizing our economy. Nothing meaningful is happening, which is unacceptable. The survey shows awareness is increasing, a good first step. The next step needs to be action—putting sustainable carbon and energy management programs in place and taking responsibility for them on a day-to-day basis. This will be a defining factor in our collective success or failure in leaving the world better than the way we found it.”
Harris Interactive conducted the survey within the United States in the fourth quarter of 2010 among a total of 301 Fortune 1000 executives. Company revenue and number of employees were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the larger universe of Fortune 1000 companies.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error, which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100 percent response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to be invited to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.