Rotten Fruit

Originally published on

"LowSometimes a failure can arrive disguised as a success. For example, DDT. The A-bomb. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The Industrial Revolution (if it ends up destroying civilization with runaway climate change). Highly profitable energy efficiency.

Wait—energy efficiency? Isn’t that what’s going to help save humanity?

Well, yes. Efficiency is one of the key climate solutions, according to virtually anyone thinking about the problem. Joe Romm, of the blog “Climate Progress,” points out that it’s cheap, easily and rapidly deployable, abundant, and therefore arguably the biggest carbon-free resource we have. Studies confirming this abound, whether from Mckinsey or PricewaterhouseCoopers.

So how can energy efficiency, especially the really profitable kind, be a failure dressed as success?

Here’s how: Successful energy efficiency programs almost always mean “picking the low-hanging fruit” or “cream skimming.” This means implementing the most cost-effective retrofits—upgrades that offer the largest and quickest return on investment (ROI). This sort of action is praised as “win-win” by consultants. You save tons of energy and money, and do good for the environment. What’s not to like?

Read Schendler’s full post—find out what’s not to like, how "picking low-hanging fruit" hurts energy efficiency efforts, and how to fix the problem.


Highlighted Resources


Gathering Low-Hanging Fruit is Not Enough to Green Industry

Building a Business (and a Culture) Around Sustainability is an Evolving Process


Another Year Goes By and We Are No Closer to Solving Climate Change

Some images courtesy of Shutterstock.