Book review : Factor five

We all know it : energy – and resource – efficiency is the panacea to all our energy and environmental woes. As I finished reading another excellent book on the very matter, I am sharing with you today the main findings.

Factor Five is the sequel of the 1997-book Factor Four. It demonstrates how our world economy could become at least five times more efficient and thus truly achieve a sustainable development in terms of economy and environment.

Full with facts, figures and examples taken from all around the world, it shows it is not only possible but that it makes a lot of sense both economically and environmentally.

The authors focus on various sectors and starts by the most important one in terms of greenhouse gases emissions, buildings. If you had a look at my Master’s thesis, you know that many things can be achieved there.

Buildings, and the appliances used within them can already benefit from huge improvements that can cut by 80 percent or more the energy used there. Passive houses are already a reality in many countries and can consume up to 90 percent less energy than today’s counterparts.

As I already noted back in 2006 (five years ago, time sure flies…) renewable energy sources are really interesting when such efficiency is reached.

The book goes on with the industry sector and mentions the case of the steel industry and how it could tremendously benefit from Electric Arc Furnace as it is as much as 90 percent more efficient than the current Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) used in almost all factories today. (cf page 147)

Afterwards, the book is handling agriculture which consumes huge amounts of water – 69 percent of all water consumed by economies around the world – a critical utility as climate is warming and weirding. The authors present among others the potential of drip irrigation to ease the water stress felt in more and more countries.

Last economic sector to be tackled is transport. The book doesn’t go heavily on electric cars but rather focuses on public transportation, bikes as well as making our cars lighter and hybrid. Congestion charges, like the ones used in London and more and more cities looks like a promising solutions to help people ditch their cars within cities.

The next part of the book is about implementing these solutions and drive a new revolution. Knowing the aversion of our politicians to work on the common good, there is a lot to do…

Conclusion : You will have understood it, Factor Five is – after Crossing the Energy Divide reviewed a little while ago – simply another must read I am delighted to recommend not only to you but to political leaders all around the world.

This should enable them to grasp better what is behind green growth and how it could benefit us all…

Grade : 19/20.

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