Generating and using energy efficiently should be a no-brainer. Why would anyone want to spend more money than they have to, foolishly over-use limited energy resources, and emit more into the air and water than they have to in order to prosper, provide jobs, and live in comfort? Why would anyone ignore inarguable evidence that a relatively small investment in their home or business (or factory) can save money, resources, actually pay for itself after a reasonable period of time, and even selfishly yield some important ongoing public relations value to the business?

In its July 2009 report, “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U. S. Economy,” McKinsey Global Energy & Materials worries:

“How is it that so many energy-saving opportunities worth more than $130 billion annually to the U. S. economy can go unrealized, despite decades of public awareness campaigns, federal and state programs, and targeted action by individual companies, non-governmental organizations, and private individuals?”

The great unfathomable mystery of why commercial, institutional, and industrial upper management remains so averse to saving money and, where appropriate, increasing shareholder value through greater attention to their energy use continues to dog this industry, despite all our efforts to the contrary.

Although discouraging, this is not the time for the fainthearted; as the cover of this issue of Today’s Boiler encourages, it is exactly the time to renew, rededicate, and redouble our efforts to tenaciously proselytizing the benefits - a transformation in efficiency, emissions, productivity, and reliability - promised by today’s state-of-the-art boiler technology. It is our job to be there, after all the slammed doors, when the customer is finally ready to bring their existing boiler systems into the 21st century.

Nationally, we will engage the faddists that decry boilers as old technology and who would have government, rather than market sustainability considerations, choose technologies, fuels, and practices to meet tomorrow’s energy demands. We will contest those who demand greater energy efficiency yet erect costly and insurmountable regulatory barriers to boiler optimization or replacement - like the mandates associated with New Source Review. We will fight to bring efficiency tax and rebate incentives to the broadest range of potential customers and make them applicable to conventional as well as alternative efficiency solutions.

Whether it’s the effects of recession; legislative, regulatory, financial, or economic uncertainty; corporate marginalization of energy costs; or just a unique management intransigence - all have contributed to inactivity and have only fostered a unique management intransigence - there is every indication from our inquiry levels that companies are likely to decide sooner, rather than later, that they can’t squeeze any more productivity out of what they have and that they are going to have to address their aging boiler systems. Notwithstanding shrinking tax revenues or construction budgets at the local level, an overbuilt commercial building environment, and less-volatile fuel costs, older, more wasteful, and harder to maintain power and hot water systems are getting a second look - at a time when there is less internal competition for that capital investment dollar.

After one of the harshest winters on record - and what we hope was the end of the worst and most confusing economic times most of us have ever known - there is the renewed optimism and vibrancy of spring. Let’s use it to cut through the nonsense and to return to basics; let’s stop trying to over-promise and over-reach the next guy with unachievable results. Let’s do what we’ve always done best: be there for our customers, whether or not they are there for us right now.

Randy Rawson
President / Chief Executive Officer
American Boiler Manufacturers Association