3M is playing an important role in the recently announced Better Buildings Challenge, an effort to grow the country's clean energy economy. The initiative aims to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20% by the year 2020, a move that is projected to reduce energy bills for American businesses by approximately $40 billion per year and to create more than 100,000 jobs.
As a partner in the challenge, 3M has committed to reduce energy use by 25% in 78 of its plants, encompassing nearly 38 million-sf of building space. The company has already achieved significant gains; in 2011 alone, 3M improved energy efficiency in its operations globally by 8.9% compared to the same period last year, and avoided more than $43 million in energy costs. Additionally, more than 150 employee-inspired energy projects helped the company save nearly $7.7 million.
Within 3M, the Renewable Energy Division directs its efforts toward helping customers meet their energy targets by providing energy-saving solutions. 3M Renewable Energy creates products and technologies to advance the solar and wind industries, as well as energy conservation window films for the commercial building sector. These technologies hold significant promise in helping 3M and other participants in the challenge increase energy efficiency. Notable products in 3M's line include:
- Sun Control Window Films, which use non-metalized nano-technology to create reflectivity that's actually lower than glass. These spectrally-selective interior and exterior films reject up to 97 percent of the sun's heat-producing infrared light to help keep buildings cooler.
- Cool Mirror Film 330, a unique, multilayer optical film designed for low concentration, crystalline silicon photovoltaic (low X CPV) installations. The films reflect only the wavelengths of light that can be absorbed by solar cells, substantially reducing the amount of solar energy that can degrade the performance of CPV systems.
"3M has cut its absolute worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent from 1990 to 2010," said Tim Thornton, director of 3M Renewable Energy Division's Energy Conservation business. "We are proud to take part in this challenge and to share our knowledge with others, so we can all move toward achieving this ambitious goal." BD+C