With nearly 5 million Asian Americans residing in California—approximately one-third of the U.S.’s estimated 15 million Asian Americans—we have an immense responsibility to take care of the state where we work and live.
Unsurprisingly, reducing our carbon footprint and improving our overall behaviors to become more energy efficient is a priority for California. Moreover, it only requires a few simple changes in our daily lives.
In the past when I entered my office and watched the motion sensor lights go on, I was unknowingly doing my small part to save energy for California. Or when I shut off the coffee maker, or power down my computer, it made a difference. And I know that as my members step into the office for meetings they too may wonder why we are doing it, but as the saying goes – lead by example. For over 16 years, I have worked to represent Asian American business interests in Los Angeles. Helping individuals achieve their own unique goals is the most rewarding aspect of my work, and I have seen countless successes borne from humble beginnings.
Looking around Southern California communities today, you will see a wide variety of businesses owned and operated by Asian Americans. From manufacturers and consultants, to hospitality and food services, our community has always shown an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to seize opportunity when we see it.
The success of Asian American-owned businesses is now linked to the overall success of the California economy. But in order to sustain the growth we’ve seen, we must acknowledge the complicated realities of owning a business in today’s environment.
Among the many costs and complicating factors in running a business, one of the most challenging is managing energy consumption and mitigating overall carbon footprint. California business owners are unique – as one of the most environmentally conscious states in the country, there are strict controls around air, water, and land use. We are constantly striving to meet the demands of a very active and engaged California consumer, while trying to still make money to invest back into their businesses.
And while we don’t have to deal with hurricanes in California, there are a number of variables influenced by climate change business owners have to consider: from droughts to power surges, the fluctuating price of fuel, or deciding which renewable resources to rely on and when – not to mention the cost to install new energy supply mechanisms – businesses face a whole host of energy-related decision challenges.
Sometimes it can be a real challenge to keep the lights on, which is why incorporating sustainable practices into your business as early as possible is so important. Smarter energy use isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for business – your business. So, what if we could make turning the lights on less expensive? Energy efficient measures can wind up paying dividends in the long run, and can be the difference between a company’s initial success and long-term growth.
Fortunately, the state of California has recognized the valuable role sustainability can play in growing our economy. After all, you don’t become the sixth largest economy without some creative solutions. Through programs like Energy Upgrade California, it’s easy to find ways for businesses of all shapes and sizes to save money through energy efficiency and better resource management. It can be as easy as upgrading to LED lightbulbs that last 25-times longer and use 75 percent less energy – as we’ve done in our ABA offices – or unplugging appliances that aren’t being used.
California today is not only achieving more with less energy, we are investing in a smart energy future and building the foundation for long-term growth. In fact, our state produces twice as much economic output for every kilowatt-hour consumed compared to the rest of the country. Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and for the vitally important Asian American-owned business community, it couldn’t be more important to seeing more efficient operation and clearing the runway for even more impressive growth in the future. So when I leave the office today, tomorrow and over the weekend, our office lights will go out, I will smile knowing that I will save a few pennies. Everyone in the state, can “Do Your Thing” to make California more energy efficient that will lead to a safer and healthier place for the next generation.
Dennis Huang is the executive director and CEO of the Asian Business Association and a partner of Energy Upgrade California.