Chevron Energy Solutions is "the Ideo of the energy sector," says business professor Andrew Hargadon, who has partnered with CES at the University of California, Davis's Energy Efficiency Center. The eight-year-old Chevron subsidiary , based in San Francisco, has come up with a unique business model. It will go to a post office, a prison, or an entire school district and perform a complete efficiency retrofit on the buildings, from better insulation to new boilers, along with a customized on-site renewable-energy system for maximum carbon reduction.
The company, which boasts 20% annual growth, is one of the largest installers of solar panels, fuel cells, and biomass projects nationwide. All this, and it costs the client little or nothing up front -- a "performance contract" means CES gets paid out of its (mostly public) customers' long-term savings. Projects in 30 states have saved those customers an average of 30% in energy use -- more than $1 billion to date. Chevron itself is CES's biggest client.
Jim Davis, CES's CEO, is quick to say Chevron won't leave the oil business behind anytime soon, but "Chevron considers itself to be a global energy company," he says, "and it's going to take every molecule of every source of energy possible to meet demand. Energy saved is energy found."