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Monday, March 27, 2023

UF speaker says businesses already have technology to save energy, money

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Even though you've probably heard it since third grade, the age-old mantra still holds true for businesses.

That's the message L. Hunter Lovins, a keynote speaker for the Business Case for Sustainability and UF Sustainability Showcase that started Monday, brought to graduate students in the School of Natural Resources and Environment on Tuesday afternoon.

Lovins continually iterated one of the best ways to deal with climate change is to simply reduce carbon emissions.

"There are ways to reduce emissions and to do so profitably," she said to a class of about 30 students and staff.

One such example she cited is DuPont Co., which cut its energy use by 65 percent and essentially saved ,3 billion.

"The technology isn't the problem," she said. "We have the technology in place."

The real difficulty will come when businesses attempt to manage the changes the technology will bring, she said.

Lovins, founder and president of the nonprofit Natural Capitalism Solutions, admits she doesn't have the answer to every scenario.

"The answers are going to come from people like you, people who have studied multiple disciplines and can bring ideas together," Lovins said.

The School of Natural Resources and Environment aims to do just that.

"There's a lot of momentum that interdisciplinary studies cross-pollinate," said faculty member Katie Sieving of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. "Through time, solutions will come out of this training. I think UF is doing a pretty good job of that."

In addition to focusing on reducing energy use, Lovins, co-author of the book "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution" spoke at length about the need for companies to switch to renewable energy. Investing in renewable energy is cheaper than investing in conventional sources, she said.

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"We can make the transition away from fossil fuels to a 100 percent renewable society," she said. "We will make that transition. It's just a matter of when and how hard we're going to make it on ourselves."

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