Who said that?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 05:17AM
Toby Considine

Recently, I seem to be writing more about economics and bad market structures, both here and in my Automated Buildings column, than I do about building systems. This is because I have a fundamental faith in the ability of the bright, bright people I know in the industry to get things done, but fear that our markets, our regulations, and the way we have always done things get in the way of solving real problems and creating great buckets of new value.

Today I ran across someone who said it quite well, someone I did not expect to say so:

“I can’t say without claiming to know more than I do, but I know that capitalism works, that American entrepreneurialism works, and we can damn well expect that private capital—not government money—will actually solve the problem.”

This is exactly right. Hat’s off to Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, speaking in climate issues in the March issue of Wired.

I’m not sure why this surprised me. Perhaps it was a weekend surrounded by academics and townies for whom the watermelon sobriquet (green on the outside, red on the inside) was coined. Although really, I think of them more in the vein of the mealy tasteless pink-on-the-inside melons.

Fred Krupp is on record as expecting to find the solutions to clean energy in entrepreneurial high-tech. He speaks of creating incentives in law for solving some very large problems.

Today, missteps of problem solving by government fad are very much in the news. Government subsidies to corn ethanol has been a net drag on energy while destroying world markets for food and distorting agriculture to destroy marginal habitats. This weekend, in line with my predictions last Fall, (Understanding the full costs of Corn Ethanol), the Boston Brewing Company, the giant in the microbrew industry, announced it is sharing 20,000 pounds of hops with other brewers to fend off wide-spread bankruptcies in beer brewers. Despite these obvious problems, the same government will not remove its ban on foreign ethanol produced less expensively without these problems.

So, I know a little about integrating building systems, a little about BIM, a little about the power grid—but I know that Fred is exactly right.


Update on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 10:03AM by Registered CommenterToby Considine

Sometimes as a blogger, you just want to make sure that there will be a post tomorrow. Especially when an idea strikes twice in the same day. So you post an article, and schedule it for the next day.

Occasionally, this backfires.

Yesterday I was running from a small month-old interview with Fred Krupp. This morning, a substantial op-ed piece ran in the Wall Street Journal under his byline on the same subject. I suggest you read it.

Krupp is looking to the horizon, to technologies not on the radar yet. He feels that with the right economic incentives, the market will prepare these technologies for market. This is different than most of what I discuss here. Most of these conversations deal with bringing the market to the technologies we already have. It is our assumptions about the way things have always worked that stand in our way. And it is difficult to move against one’s preconceived notions.

To make it easier to move against those notions, let me quite from Fred again:

Energy is the biggest business in the world, "the mother of all markets," says venture capitalist John Doerr, Google's first funder. The winners of the race to reinvent energy will not only save the planet, but will also make megafortunes.

Many in the energy world seem focused on what in politics is called “the little tent.” I believe in the big tent. Whether you come to this market for because you are concerned about climate change, or about energy security, or about resource depletion, or about national security, or just because of the size of the opportunity, the problems are the same. The solution, new market models that work to enable innovation, should be a big enough tent for anyone.

Article originally appeared on New Daedalus (http://www.newdaedalus.com/).
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