Architect and author Elaine Gallagher Adams envisions a far different world in 2050.
No nuclear power. No oil. No coal. Natural gas will be used, plus renewable energy, including solar and wind.
It is the way we should want to move, said Gallagher Adams, a consultant with the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute.
“We can do it,” she said. “It’s a game-changer.”
Energy efficiency will become huge, she told an audience of 250 people Thursday at Summit County’s first Summit of Sustainability luncheon.
Energy efficiency, she said, “is the most powerful form of energy.”
Americans also might rely on vehicle batteries to provide power to homes when the vehicles are parked, she said.
Americans could see $5 trillion in savings from 2012 to 2050 with such changes to cut fossil-fuel consumption, and retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient is becoming a boom industry and a much-needed step, Gallagher Adams said.
The United States needs to “build better buildings, to build better gizmos, that use less energy,” she said.
The summit, held in the ballroom in the University of Akron’s Student Center, was organized to honor three environmentally friendly local companies.
The winners were Bridgestone Americas (companies with more than 250 employees), Twinsburg-based Visual Marking Systems (companies with 249 or fewer workers) and the Akron Zoological Park (nonprofit group).
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and Summit County Executive Russ Pry presented the awards.
The winners were highlighted in individual videos that outlined their sustainability programs or efforts to be green or environmentally friendly.
Bridgestone Americas added numerous environmentally friendly features to its $100 million Akron Technical Center that opened in April in south Akron.
Features include low-flow plumbing, a white roof to reflect sunlight, an emphasis on natural light inside the building, constructing a parking deck instead of surface lots that might cause more flooding, light-colored paving that reduces energy costs, rain gardens, an outdoor walking path and stainless steel (not glass) in the southwest corner, which is the building’s hot spot from sunlight.
The building was designed to ensure it was positioned to take advantage of natural light, and high-performance glass was used to reduce energy consumption.
The company is aggressively moving toward a policy of disposing of nothing in landfills. In fact, work stations do not include trash cans, the video said, and it takes an effort to throw away material at the center.
Rainwater is collected in a cistern and used to irrigate a roof of plants. That plant-covered roof also increases energy efficiency and reduces cooling costs.
Much of the 260,000-square-foot structure, from steel studs to carpeting, is made out of recycled materials.
The company’s carbon footprint, or the emissions of carbon dioxide, a key global-warming gas, shrank by 82 percent with the new building, the video reported.
The facility houses 430 workers.
Visual Marking Systems, a printing company with about 100 employees, and the Akron Zoo, also were recognized for implementing energy savings and recycling efforts, among other initiatives.
Sponsors of the program are the city of Akron, Summit County, Keep Akron Beautiful, the Greater Akron Chamber and the Summit-Akron Solid Waste Management Authority.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.