Save gas and power, cut costs — wow

But then, we knew that, right?

The “carbon footprint” justification is loopy (because it cannot alter global warming, even if there was any), but its righteousness distracts people so they forget about other ways of saving money.

Auckland[‘s publicly-funded War Memorial Museum] expects to spend 35 per cent less on gas and electricity, saving $340,000.

Auckland Museum is being touted as a green example for other city organisations after it succeeded in slashing its carbon footprint by 30 per cent in just two years.

The reduction – saving the museum around $340,000 this year – has prompted a call by Auckland Mayor Len Brown for others to follow its lead.

Last year alone, the museum cut its carbon emissions by 365 tonnes, or around 21 per cent – bringing the total CO2 reduction over the past two calendar years to 600 tonnes.

As a result, the museum expects to spend 35 per cent less on electricity and gas this year compared to three years ago.

via Going green saves museum big money – NZ Herald News.

That’s good, well done them, a worthy effort. Gives them a chunk of public money to spend elsewhere. I wouldn’t mind an extra $340,000 myself, some years.

But just how good is it?

The museum’s Annual Plan for 2012 budgeted for total spending of more than $34 million. This air-headed witchhunt to “decarbonise” (which cannot be done!) will save one percent of their annual expenditure — which is tiny — and to judge its worth we need to know how much it cost to find and implement those savings.

However, the milksop that passes these days for reportage, doesn’t even inquire into the cost of the cost-cutting. I would almost guarantee that the question never occurred to the worthy Jamie Morton, ace reporter (is Jamie a boy or a girl?). If it did, she certainly failed to put the question to our civic leaders, who simply got on with their sloganeering.

The Herald reporter never thought to ask: over those two years, how many meetings were held, for how many hours, with how many people earning an average of how much per hour? How many part-time staff were hired to gather information? How many time-consuming requests poured into the accounts department for figures? How many phone calls went to suppliers of power and gas to investigate alternatives? How much time was spent on emails and internal discussions?

Is the same effort being made against other expenditure? Or does the virtuous philosophy of saving the planet from ourselves elevate the “carbon footprint” reduction campaign above everything?

It doesn’t matter to the Earth what they saved, for it won’t make a scrap of difference to global warming, no matter that museum director Roy Clare sees the reduction as an “essential contribution to the global green agenda for change” (whatever that means).

So why should it be a goal for Auckland or any other city?

Some of us can tell when we’re listening to brain-washing.

11 Thoughts on “Save gas and power, cut costs — wow

  1. Richard C (NZ) on April 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm said:

    I was working on these types of energy cost savings for the customers of my employer (an electricity retailer) 20 years ago – what took the War Memorial Museum (and their energy suppliers) so long?

    But of course back then it was simply energy efficiency – not an “essential contribution to the global green agenda for change” or “going green”.

  2. The obvious green solution is to shut the museum down completely. That would save a lot of money

  3. Of course! Brilliant!

  4. Gary Kerkin on April 2, 2013 at 8:31 am said:

    I note that Andy’s solution was published on the one day of the year that even City Fathers would allow as humorous! Was that also the rationale for the Herald article? Seriously though, an even simpler question, Richard, is the length of the payback period. I have no objection to spending capital to save cost: it is a fundamental principle which underpins cost minimization operations such as rolling companies, or cooperatives such as Fonterra. It highlights the difference between cooperative and corporate models of ownership: the one seeks to maximize return by minimizing cost; the other seeks to maximize return by maximizing profit. Both set criteria on how quickly the expenditure must be recovered from either the reduced costs or the increased profits. I find it curious that this fundamental basis of (some) economics is blithely ignored by those committed to some of the ideals which materialize in our societies from time to time. It is all the more curious considering that this ideal gather adherents from across the political spectrum.

  5. Doug Proctor on April 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm said:

    In 2010, electricity was responsible for 45 per cent of emissions, natural gas 42 per cent and travel and waste 13 per cent.

    The deconstruction:

    Quote: “Last year, electricity was raised to 55 per cent of emissions, gas reduced to 31 per cent and travel and waste was roughly the same at 14 per cent.

    Natural gas was consumed to produce high temperatures for the museum’s air conditioning and ventilation systems, with electricity used to produce low temperatures, lighting and for general purposes.

    This brought down its projected 2013 electricity bill from $798,000 to $559,000 and natural gas from $182,000 to $81,000.”

    So the “electricity” portion, coming from somewhere else, went from 45 – 55%. The “reduced” emissions were actually “displaced emissions” or even “increased emissions” as the non-gas emissions were PROBABLY coal-burning emissions.

    Natural gas went from 42% to 31%.

    Total electricity and natural gas went from $980K per year to $640K.

    On a $/percentage basis, electricity went from a $17.7K per point to $10.2K per point. Natural gas went from $4.Kk per point to $2.K per point. In a fixed cost per unit purchase, you’d expect a fixed cost per percentage point, wouldn’t you?

    So what have they done?

    1. Perhaps the electricity use has been switched to more dominantly night time. Then the cost-per unit goes down as the peak times have been avoided. The number of joules used and hence the carbon dioxide doesn’t change, but your cost goes down.

    2. To drop the natural gas costs per unit, perhaps they have SWITCHED PROVIDERS who give them a better cost per btu.

    This has nothing to do with going green – except as a sham ideological trick. Perhaps there was some real energy reductions, but I’m seeing a dominant cost-source issue here, i.e. better market practices by the purchasing agent, mixed with a displaced (and possibly worse) carbon footprint.

  6. Clarence on April 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm said:

    The cost went down by 35% while the “footprint” decreased 21%, so some of this was just the fact that the Museum management was paying too much last year.

    Was the 21% just wasted last year? Or did the management decide to turn down the thermostats? (Or turn them up in the case of exhibits requiring ‘coolth’)

    Maybe they changed their fuel mix or their equipment. In that case, the only useful metric is ROI. The Mayor seems pleased. But he doesn’t seem focussed on whether this expenditure provided value to the ratepayers.

  7. Mike Jowsey on April 3, 2013 at 6:41 am said:

    “Roy Clare sees the reduction as an “essential contribution to the global green agenda for change” (whatever that means).”

    He means it is essential to be seen to support the aims and philosophies of the global new-world-order government agenda 21 for wholesale socialist change.

  8. It’s possibly more a requirement to spout meaningless eco-babble in order to hold down a government funded job these days.

  9. Alexander K on April 3, 2013 at 10:01 am said:

    Having worked as a teacher at various levels for a large number of years, I give thanks daily for the fact that I am now well past retirement age and will never ever again have to go to a routinely-scheduled meeting and be forced to listen to some temporarily-empowered functionary spout absolute but politically correct nonsense. There are many varieties of babble one can be subjected to – eco, edu, psycho, socio, politico, etc, and these can be combined in extreme creative meaninglessness by those focussed on their own meritless advancement . The museum officers sound to be the kind of colleagues I once would have gone to great lengths to avoid being in meetings with.

  10. Actually Roy Clare sounds like a decent sort of bloke

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Clare

    Although he does seem to have a bit of a track record of being associated with things that have been closed down (including aircraft carriers). No fault of his own, I am sure

  11. Doug Proctor on April 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm said:

    Thinking more about the split changes and the cost changes, my $/percentage point changes can reveal EITHER a price/btue change or a reduction in total energy used. The changes are substantial, however, and I don’t see the overall BTUE numbers in the article.

    Here in Calgary we are aggressively pursued by energy providers, both electricity and natural gas. The prices have changed a lot over the last few years, and a long-term contract can have large cost savings.

    We’d need to know just how much power and natural gas was used in 2011 and 2012 to determine whether it was really energy efficiency or purchase prices were the most significant.

    And here’s the thing about reducing natural gas for electricity:

    The national electricity grid is fundamentally coal, diesel and natural gas driven. Renewables are a small amount that can be discounted. There is a certain “carbon” content to each portion. When you reduce your natural gas use in favour of electricity, you could say you replaced it with the average of the carbon content of the grid, but that might not be legitimate. If swing power is produced by natural gas, then by reducing your local NG, you have simply caused more NG to be produced elsewhere. Since there is loss down the line, your carbon footprint actually INCREASES by the relative efficiency of using it locally or procuring it from a distance.

    There is a worse way, though, of looking at it. If you reduce natural gas for electricity, you could be stabilizing the demand for electricity, the baseload level. That is the electricity that the generators must always have and is not part of the rapid response of gas turbines. So what you have done is cause the most stable part and slowest part to increase: from coal-fired generators.

    It is not unreasonable to suggest that the Council, by being pleased the Museum has favoured electricity consumption over natural gas, has traded low carbon energy for higher carbon energy.

    Overall energy reduction is a good thing (which wasn’t discussed). But if you don’t watch the moving cups carefully, you’ll find that your remaining portion is more carbon intensive than it was to begin with.

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