Saturday, March 29, 2008

How conservation happens

Through the right incentives, namely profit:

"The pressure is immense" to cut weight, said John Heimlich, chief economist for the Air Transport Association of America, an industry trade group. "Every penny more per gallon adds $195 million to the industry's expenses per year. You simply cannot make all of that up with fare increases."

"Reducing consumption is a certainty," Heimlich said. "You're always going to win by consuming less energy."

To that end, carriers have pulled out unused ovens, magazine racks and trash compactors during the past few years. Some removed paper manuals in the cockpit and installed electronic maintenance logbooks.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines created a Fuel Smart Team in 2005 as fuel prices started to go up. Tom Opderbeck, American's manager of strategic programs, said the team tried to cut weight in places that customers wouldn't notice. The team capped electrical outlets in the lavatories and cut the power converters from the wall. It took out phones in seat backs and removed the heavy telephone wiring that was folded inside. "I always think we've come to the end of the list, but we keep on finding new items" to remove, Opderbeck said.

Read the rest here. Do you think any government agency or non-profit would go to these lengths to conserve energy? I'm afraid dimming the lights for an hour won't cut it. But if you like that idea maybe we can agree on flipping the lights off completely on about 95% of government operations.

Addendum: While we're on the subject, it looks like biofuel subsidies are proving to be a monstrous reminder of the law of unintended consequences.

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