We had an interesting discussion today and it wasn’t academic. The topic was about money and how to best spend it for both the environment and financial return. The question was about spending money on the purchase of “green power”. The argument was made that it would be more valuable to spend $100K (a made up number for this blog) on new energy efficient equipment than it would on green power.If you buy green power, presumably the premium you pay is invested in other green power sources, but the money Intel spends is gone. It’s a one time shot. You may get some good PR, some tax breaks, and you can claim off-sets to your carbon emissions, but the money is gone. However, if you spend that same amount of money on more energy efficient equipment, you save energy (carbon emissions) and you save money on operating costs over the life of the equipment because of lower energy usage, plus this is a savings that you get every year. The money spent on buying “green power” could over time produce less carbon emissions and may therefore be more beneficial to the environment. However, the money you save on the reduced energy bills, through more efficient equipment could be used towards other environmental projects; and the savings increases returns for shareholders who could invest their profits in green initiatives. I don’t know if there is a “right” answer here, we are trying to do “the right things right”, but it’s not always a clear path.
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