George Basile, a senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University and a member of ASU’s Decision Theater, speaks to the Peoria Chamber of Congress about energy efficiency at the Rio Vista Recreation Center in Peoria Wednesday.

Nick Cote/Daily News-Sun

The American people are not just obese physically, says George Basile, they are energy obese, too.

“You’ve heard that statistic that we as 20 percent of the population use 80 percent of the juice,” said the senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University. “Well, that’s true.”

Basile addressed the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Wednesday to discuss energy efficiency at the business level, though from the start he said he wanted to change the parameters.

“I don’t like to say energy efficiency because that’s just one part of it,” he said. “I like to call it energy intelligence.”

To illustrate his point, Basile showed a pie chart representing a single person driving a car. If the passenger weighs 200 pounds and the car weighs 4,000, he said, then the efficiency of that transportation is only 5 percent.

“Five percent of that gasoline is being used to move you,” he said. “The other 95 percent of that gasoline is moving the car.”

Carpool with three other people, though, and the efficiency of that vehicle goes up to 20 percent. But, he said, it is not just about efficiency.

“It’s not just about the energy you use, it’s about the energy you don’t use,” he said. “Those three people who joined you in your car all left their cars at home. If all of those cars use 10 gallons of gas, that’s 30 gallons that never had to be used at all. That’s energy intelligence.”

Basile said people tend not to think about energy in any aspect of their lives, whether it be personal or at work. But if we start to take energy efficiency into account in the decision-making process, he said, significant changes can be made quickly, even with large businesses.

“You can think of energy efficiency as another energy source if you still get the same work done,” he said. “If you’re more energy efficient, without losing out on productivity, that goes directly to your bottom line.”

Basile also pointed to a study of the energy efficiency of each state in the United States.

“If all states did as well as the top 10 states, which by the way isn’t even that good, we would free up 34 percent of our energy,” he said. “We would have an increase in available energy of more than a third, and we would do it just by being more efficient.”

Basile said there is room for improvement in all aspects of business.

“The nice thing about being energy obese is that there are so many ways to improve,” he said. “We need to use energy efficiency as a design lens through which we look at our decisions and rethink everything we do. For instance, what are you doing that is waste? What are you doing that does not serve your customer? What are you doing that harms your customer? Start there.”

He said changes can be as easy as replacing incandescent bulbs or painting a roof white.

“It really can be that simple.”

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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