Many businesses across the US are moving aggressively to reduce their carbon footprint, including a major embrace of renewable energy and alternative-fuelled vehicles, according to Deloitte’s Resources 2018 Study – Businesses Drive, Households Strive.
The annual survey shows that businesses see addressing climate change as key to long-term industry resilience. Sustainability seems no longer optional – it has become important to fostering business growth and satisfying a wide range of stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, partners, employees and investors.
Although 86% of residential consumers believe the government should be active in setting a vision and path for energy strategy, it is the private sector that is advancing the cause to manage resources for cleaner, more resilient, secure and affordable energy supplies.
More than three-fourths (76%) of survey respondents cited renewables as key for achieving energy independence, jumping five %age points from 2017. This seems to represent a change in mindset with many respondents now seeing a connection that was once widely thought to be implausible.
In addition, many millennials – greener and “techier” than other generations – see renewables as the answer to their environmental concerns. In fact, 64% rank utilizing clean energy sources among their top three most important energy-related issues.
Also, they are more likely to adopt new solutions, such as electric vehicles, home automation systems and time-of-use rates.
Businesses making EVs an easy choice
Many businesses not only say reducing their electricity consumption is important to staying competitive but they also are helping to transform the transportation sector as more consumers and employees eye electric vehicles and hybrids as a prime pick for their next vehicle.
Business respondents expect gasoline or diesel vehicles will make up less than half (49%) of their transportation fleets by 2020. If so, it would mark the first-time vehicles powered by alternative fuels will constitute a majority of corporate fleets. In fact, businesses are accelerating their efforts to support employees who drive electric vehicles, with well over half (56%), offering EV charging stations. 52% of these businesses own the charging stations themselves, while 41% belong to the building owner.
Businesses Turn to Self-Generation for Greater Control Over Energy
On-site generation also is on the rise as distributed resources are increasingly viewed as being realistic and cost-effective, and as businesses desire greater control over their energy supplies in terms of price, quality and reliability.
59% of businesses now generate some portion of their electricity supply on-site, and of those businesses, 13% are using renewables, 13% use on-site co-generation and 10% are using on-site battery storage.
Nearly half of business respondents are working to procure more electricity from renewable sources, and nearly two-thirds (61%) said combining battery storage with renewable sources would motivate them to do more.
Additionally, businesses are responding to increased power outages by purchasing backup generators, adding battery storage units, and expanding the amount of electricity they self-generate.
Smart home apps not catching on, cyber concerns cooling interest
Despite support for more innovative energy savings, only 20% of respondents have automated home functions, such as smart thermostats. In fact, amid growing reports of hacked home devices, 21% of respondents cited privacy and security concerns as a barrier to upgrading their thermostats, compared to 15% last year.
In addition, penetration of smart thermostats and automation systems remains very low with only 4% using a home automation system and just 8% utilizing a programmable thermostat.
A majority of both businesses and residential consumers want environmentally responsible, reliable assets, preferably close by, that they can control to optimize reliability, flexibility and cost. However, this year’s survey seems to emphasize that privacy and security concerns should be addressed by providers soon to maintain the momentum for a clean secure energy future.