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When it comes to discussing the value and power of a clean-energy future, in a way that touches core values and life-experiences of a good share of Americans, perhaps it is time to think and speak UMW.  No ... not the United Mine Workers.  Instead,  when we think UMW and energy, we should turn to three "institutions" that have a particular role in America (and Americans' lives):

Not only are UMW central to Americans aspirations, values, and consumer habits, UMW also stands for institutions that, in their own ways and for their own reasons, are leaders in energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) toward a sustainable and resilient future.

Across the nation, universities are tackling energy efficiency and sustainability for a range of reasons from pure fiscal (energy savings (pdf)) to needing to meet youth expectations (note Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges available in pdf here) to a fundamental respect for science with an understanding of climate change and the need for universities to take a leadership role in climate mitigation efforts.

Energized by service members wounded and killed protecting oil convoys in Iraq (and Afghanistan) and stunned by 2008 oil price spike, the military had already started to address energy challenges seriously when the Obama Administration began to take steps to accelerate these actions.  Real-world events, a growing military realization of threats and opportunities, and an Administration intent on fostering American leadership in the clean-energy sector have coalesced to foster real change across the military services when it comes to the energy domain.   Again, the military focus derives from a C2 focus: costs (in blood, treasure, and risks) and capability (reduced risks and improved capabilities).Increasingly, America's military is realizing that Energy Smart practices are a path toward increased capabilities at lowered cost and lower risks.

When it comes to being focused 'on the bottom line', there are few companies out there that match Wal-Mart in public imagination or business reality. Renowned for low wage strategies that leave employees seeking public assistance for basic needs and avoiding buying pens for its Corporate staff, Wal-Mart isn't exactly a poster child of doing good for the sake of the general good.  Wal-Mart has discovered that a dedicated focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy options will lower costs to "fulfill our mission to save people money". Installing cool roofs (when doing a new roof or a reroofing) has such a good pay back (weeks) that, according to a Wal-Mart executive, "the numbers are so good that we've mandated it on all projects. In fact, the numbers are so good that if we ever build a store at the North Pole, we'd white roof it even though, in that case, it might not payoff." Installing skylights has a direct payback of something like 14 months in energy savings but also leads to boosted sales during sunny weather.  Putting doors on refrigerated units and using LED light drives down energy use by well over 70 percent while reducing losses due to spoilage.  And, Wal-Mart is driving energy efficiency into its supply chain and clearly expects to see reduced costs return. Wal-Mart is also sharing best practices and lessons with other American companies with the planning that (a) increased demand for energy efficient products will drive down costs to use them and (b) reduced energy costs will mean more money in Americans' pockets (e.g., Wal-Mart customers will have more money to spend at Wal-Mart).  Roughly one percent of America's energy use, Wal-Mart estimates that its suppliers equal about ten times that and similar companies about the same.  If Wal-Mart achieves a 25 percent reduction in its energy use and manages to drive that into suppliers and competitors, this is the equivalent to reducing total U.S. energy usage by five percent ... all done while providing a path for increased Wal-Mart profitability.


Each of these have a particular role in America's life (especially, in my opinion, among many who might cringe with the term "green" and (mistakenly) think that "environment" is at odds with "economy") and each is a leader in establishing paths for a prosperous, secure, climate-friendly future.

Universities. Military. Wal-Mart. Each of these have determined that Energy Smart practices are, simply, smart and help achieve their objectives (improved educational performance (universities), securing the nation (military), making a profit (Wal-Mart)).   Consider the power of speaking to and highlighting how the Energy Smart choices of the institution where Americans want their children to go, the institution which Americans most trust, and the store Americans most often shop.

NOTES: Here are some useful sources / items related to understanding how UMW are leading when it comes to energy issues.

On university-level sustainability programs, for example:



Originally posted to A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  RE Universities ... (10+ / 0-)

      for example

      If you (your child) had a way to compare colleges based on their commitment to environmental issues (from academic offerings to practices concerning energy use, recycling, etc.), how much would this contribute to your (your child’s) decision to apply to or attend a school?

      A majority (65%) of respondents overall said having such information would contribute "Strongly," "Very Much," or "Somewhat" to their decisions (up 1% from last year), while 35% of them indicated said it would contribute "Not Much" or "Not at all."    Students placed higher value on this information than parents did.  

      07% Strongly (08% Students, 05% Parents)

      17% Very Much (20% Students, 12% Parents)

      41% Somewhat (41% Students, 40 % Parents)

                  Combined 65% Somewhat, Very Much or Strongly (up 1% from last year)

      25% Not Much (23 % Students, 30% Parents)

      10% Not at All (08% Students, 13% Parents)

                  Combined 35 % Not Much or Not at All


      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:48:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not unrelated... the UMW in UMWA (16+ / 0-)

    It's critical that instead of just working to prove that there are more green jobs than fossil fuel jobs, we follow through by directly creating opportunity in coal-mining communities.

    This can't be just research that leads to new positions, or training, it has to be jobs.

  •  while wal-mart has icky people policies (8+ / 0-)

    and i have never shopped there, maybe the teabaggers will listen to one of their own on benefits of going green. :)

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 09:37:06 AM PDT

  •  another public/private venture .... (6+ / 0-)

    reading your article i recalled a diary i did a while back on LCA and Arizona State University along with U of Arkansas developing a Sustainable Product Index for Consumer Products World-Wide

    Last Month, Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas announced plans to work with Wal-Mart to develop a  A collaboration of NGOs, universities, businesses and government agencies will work together in the design and development of the index, which will quantify "the sustainable attributes of a product by examining them from raw materials to disposal."

    From the Press Release:

        Walmart officials emphasize that their intention is not to "own" the index and consider its strength in success to be its design as a globally shared and open platform tool. The index will drive innovation, highlight opportunities for cost savings and waste reduction, and create a common playing field for all. Further, The Consortium will be able to track how the index is reducing environmental impacts and driving innovation and green jobs.

        "Developing indices to reliably compare products on their environmental performance, in addition to an open source database to support this, is a key step in the transition to a green economy. The EPA is very interested in this project and will follow it closely," said Clare Lindsay of the
        U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. link

    I emailed Dr. Jonathan Fink, director of the ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), to ask him about the validity problems related to multinational corporations such as Wal-Mart, Cargill and Monsanto sponsorship of GIOS projects.

    Fink said that although Wal-Mart has been criticized by many for being anti-competitive because of its low prices and its labor practices, "the positive environmental influence of their corporate activities in the past four years or so has resulted in endorsements from most leading environmental and conservation NGOs." The other sponsors, Fink said, are Wal-Mart suppliers.

    "For our part, ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability seeks solutions to sustainability challenges that will have the maximum impact," says Fink. "Wal-Mart’s scale and influence are so huge that positive changes in their practices can affect more consumers and more ecosystems than the actions of virtually any other non-government organization. We feel fortunate that we are able to provide input to the practices of Wal-Mart, and through them to many of their 66,000 suppliers. It is only through this type of leverage that society has a chance of preserving a decent quality of life for future generations."

    PLus, haven't clicked all your links but WalMart has entered into an agreement to buy local as much as possible in partnership with the First Lady, as I recall....

    Here, too, is a recent article Retailers and Brands can drive sustainable consumption

    With the help of product developers and marketing campaigns, retailers and brands could truly drive the consumption of “green” products that boast eco-friendly characteristics such as being sustainably produced, slimly packaged, efficiently transported, energy efficient, or have a longer lifecycle and are easy to recycle. What’s more, by increasing the market share of such products, retailer and brand led campaigns may even be powerful tools for achieving waste or energy policy goals.

    Hopes to be Reporting LIVE from Durban @COP17 ...

    by boatsie on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 09:48:59 AM PDT

  •  What can I sell to... (4+ / 0-)

    In the green economy, there is a lot of emphasis on windmills and solar panels, but a product designer would do well to think in terms of 'what can I sell to WalMart or the military?' Those may be way down the list of institutions that a progressive would want to do business with, but those are two institutions that have massive costs that they are looking to shave.

    Find Wally World a way to reduce their cooling energy usage by 2% and you will have a bigger impact on climate change than pretty much anything else you could do.

  •  Now Then - - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Shipper

    If you would just give a little thought to the "real" UMWA, you might be able to ascertain why West Virginia has drifted into the GOP clutches. And by extension, the 2010 debacle in the Midwest & Penna.

    •  The "real UMWA" in (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christin, RunawayRose, trashablanca

      West Virginia (and elsewhere) is losing jobs -- even as mine production is up. And, automation is about to slam the mine jobs.

      In addition, elsewhere, I have provided paths for dealing with 'miners' that would 'reward' them.  As commented above:  

      Energy / Climate Legislation (6+ / 0-)

      should / should have had serious paths for investing in clean-energy opportunities in coal-regions that would kick in before mining jobs (even further) erode. (Note that mining jobs have been decreasing, steadily, even as more coal is mined.)  

      Putting resources into West Virginia wind towers (and hydro storage systems) and biomass energy (research and production) as examples where it would increase the economic output of WVA, increase incomes, while reducing pollution (locally, regionally, globally).

      And, well, we should treat the mining communities and miners as heroes -- they have, quite literally, sacrificed to power America's growth and prosperity. Now we can do it better and cleaner but we should honor and value their contribution(s) (including their own health and lives, too often).

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 01:56:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For You to Appropriate the Name "UMW" - (3+ / 4-)

        Is like Michelle Bachmann using GLAAD.

        You would screw over coal workers in a New York minute.
        With a concern equilavent to Marie Antoinette's for starving Parisians.

        You have zero understanding of the political economy of Appalachia -
        And, for that matter, most working class communities.

        Do you not think it unusual - that after a century of bitter struggle against the coal companies - that many coal country voters are voting for the same party that the coal companies bankroll? What the fuck is wrong with the Dem message that causes such a seismic shift?

        PS - Trust me - working people have seen the promises of "replacement" jobs many times before.  They don't have any "false consciousness" - they simply know that promises do not replace high-paying, benefitted jobs.

        •  Your rhetoric (4+ / 0-)

          and insults often go beyond reasonable discourse, as they do yet again here.

          And, yes, your "ps" is true which is why I have advocated that the economic activity 'promised' start appearing and build before any policy impacts on traditional employment.

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 02:45:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Reasonable? (0+ / 0-)

            One of the chief opponents of coal here at DKos -
            Posts a diary with a cute word play on the UMW.
            And you talk about insulting?

            You don't get it.
            You spend an electronic lifetime threatening the very means of survival for thousands of people who, despite all the "promises" by anti-coal people, recognize full well that they are fucked if radical carbon limits are enacted.

            (It's no accident that the Dems have lost WV since Gore in 2000.)

            Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't advocate for serious climate legislation - including phasing out of coal plants and strict carbon targets. But at least have the decency to admit, up front, that the working people of Appalachia will be collateral damage.

            And spare me the "UMW" cuteness.

            •  What is happening to the (0+ / 0-)

              "lifeline" of coal miners and the UMW with automation of the coal mines?  Have you tracked that?

              And, well, I have in multiple ways and times -- publicly and privately -- advocated for investment to make 'the collateral damage' in Appalachia an improved set of opportunities (real opportunities) for the "working people of Appalachia".  And, as per the "ps" above, with having that go in before any actual hits on the coal mining communities in terms of coal-mining employment.  

              "Radical carbon limits ... " mean what?  Paths to addressing carbon along what science is saying is the minimum necessarily to avert absolute catastrophe?

              Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

              by A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:34:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Johnny...I'm not sure if this is true, but (0+ / 0-)

              I was reading an op-ed in the Louisville Courier a week ago that said more people are now employed in the region (KY-WV) in Wind Power than by coal.

              Does that jibe with what you see going on?

              "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

              by Keith930 on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 08:17:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  sigh. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is there anyone you don't viciously attack gunn?
          jesus christ - you are nasty.
          even A. Siegal has to suffer your seethe?

          "Oh changed your hair color? It's just so dark. You like it? And with your skin tone?" My Mom ♥ 12.25.2007 ------- A true sportsman is a hunter lost in the woods and out of ammo. ~Robert Brault

          by Christin on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 04:41:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Is This You?? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            * [new] His upraters (13+ / 0-)
            of this filth - are Trolls.

            And many similar - -

            And you do seem to give out about 10x more HRs than I do.
            So I'm not exactly sure who is Sid Vicious.

            •  You still have problems with accuracy, johnny? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rustbelt Dem

              when the cold hard truth is shown, it's usually the GOP crying foul. I suppose you still deny climate change as well, DKIV amnesty notwithstanding.

              Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. John Lennon

              by trashablanca on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 05:07:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I Still Have Problems - (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                musing85, Mother Shipper

                With the luxury of greenness.
                When the median family income in McDowell County, WV is $17,000 -
                And the cost of an electric-assisted bicycle set-up is $1200.

                And the latter folks know what is best for the former?
                And then add a little cultural appropriation for shits and giggles?
                Is it any wonder that there is a major disconnect?

                I suspect you hold fly-over America in contempt,
                but with the Midwest swinging Gopper, big time,
                We is fugged.

                PS - Speaking of truthiness and accurazzy - -
                "The Coming Plunger to $80 Oil"

                Boy I have been laughing my ass off on that one.

                •  Guess what ... (0+ / 0-)

                  about the "luxury of greenness", you are far from the sole person who has "problems".  A different question might be recognizing that those who can least afford the upfront costs of energy efficiency are often the people who can least afford energy inefficiency, how do we create government/fiscal policy to help people deal with that upfront cost challenge through capturing some of the longer term savings or simply to say that the societal good is worth helping people move toward more energy efficient options.

                  Perhaps the challenge is how to finance that $1200 on the basis of reduced gasoline use? (And, perhaps, how to figure out paths so that $1200 drops significantly? (Even as there are options out there for far less than that.))

                  As to the "laughing my ass" on that diary: that diary was and remains interesting. The challenge is that you offered zero prescription for an option forward other than 'don't base energy policy on $200 barrel oil'.  Now, you discussion didn't get at all into the undulating plateau discussions, simply parallel (to a great extent) today with past energy boom/bust cycles (without dealing with the fundamentally different nature of the tightening of difference between demand and 'maximum capacity'), etc ... In any event, despite all, I would find it more interesting for you to move forward to that other question: if not '$200 barrel oil', what is the path that you see for moving forward to a sane(r) energy policy?

                  Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                  by A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:57:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  in the past 30 years coal production in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, johnnygunn

          Appalachia has increased 140%, while the changing technologies used to mine it (esp. MTR) have allowed them to eliminate 40,000 mining jobs.

          I agree that there is a lot of cynicism in Appalachia regarding unkept promises of development and jobs.  Why it seems to have come to a head in just the past 12 years or so is a bit of a mystery to me.  Neither party seems to be doing anything to improve their lives, and they are well aware of it.  

          The Dems in WV still have a lock on the state level offices, but for some reason the pattern breaks on the presidential level.

          "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

          by Keith930 on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 08:14:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, the Dems Have a Lock on the State Leg - (0+ / 0-)

            But two of the three CDs are now GOP.
            And Maloney may be pretty tough against Tomblin this fall.
            He came from nowhere to beat Ireland (the mainstream GOP candidate) -
            While Tomblin is the ultimate insider.
            He looks way more formidible than a Christine O'Donnell.

  •  I'm sorry, but any discussion that includes... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...Walmart in a discussion of sustainability just cannot be serious.

    They've done a great job marketing their car CULTure vast disaster as "green" but it's just that, marketing.

    Reporting that 93% of Americans shop there is simply reporting that Americans are delusional consumers with no sense of responsibility for the future.

    •  no it's not. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Mother Shipper

      you're wrong.
      and i can' t stand walmart.
      but they are leading the charge on sustainability.
      my SO's company has worked with them to make their stores green, and it's real.
      And they are forcing many of their suppliers to go green for shelf space.
      and before you go stating otherwise, google and bing are your friends.

      you can hate them for crushing small business in america.
      and treating workers like crap.
      but that has nothing to do with sustainability on their part.

      "Oh changed your hair color? It's just so dark. You like it? And with your skin tone?" My Mom ♥ 12.25.2007 ------- A true sportsman is a hunter lost in the woods and out of ammo. ~Robert Brault

      by Christin on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 04:44:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wal-Mart (0+ / 0-)

      is an incredible mix.

      They are making their own facilities much more energy efficient and they are driving that into competitors and suppliers.

      They are doing things like driving for reduced packaging and concentrated detergents that are reducing truck loads for the same product level.

      On the other hand, they promote mass consumerism of things that don't last a long time, their goods move massively by trucks, their stores aren't exactly top in walkability scores, etc ...

      The point is, however, the ability to use Wal-Mart as a message-bearing path to people who are being propagandized to doubt that there is any 'green to be made by going green', that energy efficiency is a 'librul conspiracy'.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:37:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If Defending the UMW and Coal Miners - (0+ / 0-)

    Means taking a few HRs -
    It is a small price to pay.

    I repeat -
    The diarist's use of "UMW" is fraudulent and misleading -
    Especially considering he is one of the most anti-coal persons on DKos.

    Also repeat -
    He can argue as strongly as he wishes against the coal industry,
    but he is disingenuous when he pretends to be a great friend of coal miners.

    The diary's title is more than too cute.

    •  Okay. Fair enough. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Mother Shipper

      You've made your point, several times over. Time to move on. Appreciate your input but I don't need to be beaten over the head with it.

      I can just about forgive the Brits for starting our revolutionary war and burning DC to the ground during the war of 1812 for giving us Led Zeppelin.

      by Pager on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 04:44:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yeah yeah. (0+ / 0-)

      you use every excuse you can muster up to insult, attack and belittle diarists on Daily Kos.
      it's tedious.

      "Oh changed your hair color? It's just so dark. You like it? And with your skin tone?" My Mom ♥ 12.25.2007 ------- A true sportsman is a hunter lost in the woods and out of ammo. ~Robert Brault

      by Christin on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 04:45:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  coal mining is dangerous (0+ / 0-)

      and then when you burn it coal dumps all kinds of shit in the air besides the CO₂.  Coal should have no future and it should have ended 20 years ago.  France has the right idea.

      Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

      by eigenlambda on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:38:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmmm ... (0+ / 0-)

      1.  "pretends to be a great friend" is a distortion and  you know. There is a vast gulf between respecting / arguing for policies/etc that provide 'compensation' & alternatives and making claims of "friendship". You are the one making that leap, not I.

      2.  Will you deal with a discussion of the simple reality that automation is taking miners out of the mines as fast -- or faster -- than any prospective legislative activity?

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:47:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The #1 source of clean energy (0+ / 0-)

    is nuclear fission.  Each fission event releases 200MeV, in fact, a kilogram of fully burned fuel comes out of the reactor a gram lighter.  As such, it takes more or less a million times less fuel to power nuclear reactors than chemical-fueled power plants, all while keeping all the waste on site instead of spewing it all over everywhere to add mercury to everyone's tuna as well as cause global weirding.  The only technology that's similarly non-polluting and cost-effective is damming up rivers, but all the good ones are already dammed.

    Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

    by eigenlambda on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 07:52:05 PM PDT

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