Mickey Mouse and the Orlando Chamber on Energy Innovation

Leave it to Orlando, which boasts the world’s most popular vacation resort, to find some creative—if not downright magical—ways to benefit from clean energy and energy innovation.

Disney World and Duke Energy announced plans last fall for a new solar farm that will bear an uncanny resemblance to none other than Mickey Mouse.

But the Magic Kingdom (which is about twice as large as Manhattan and attracts some 52 million visitors a year) is not alone in its embrace of energy innovation.

In recent years, Orlando, Inc. (the Orlando Regional Chamber) has been working some of its own magic as a leader in energy efficiency—saving money, boosting economic development, and attracting other chambers that want to follow suit.

What motivates the chamber is a simple dollar-and cents analysis, said José A. Fajardo, Executive Vice President of Orlando, Inc.

“We recognize that energy efficiency not only reduces expenses, but also increases the asset value of our building, uses our resources efficiently, and reduces public health costs. And all of that creates investment money that can go back into the business community.”

Scott Fagan, the chamber’s Chief Operating Officer, estimates the chamber saves about $800 a month in energy costs since installing new efficient technologies. The local utility made the upfront $25,000 investment, allowing the chamber to pay it back over five years, interest-free.

For its efforts, Orlando, Inc. also recently won a prestigious Energy Star rating, ranking it among the top 25 percent high-performance buildings nationwide. In collaboration with Orlando’s business community and city government, it also advances a citywide efficiency initiative known as the City Energy Project.

“I see the Orlando Chamber as a megaphone for the financial returns for energy efficiency,” Fajardo said, adding that the chamber uses events to demonstrate how efficiency can benefit his chamber colleagues from across the region.

“Seeing what we did helps other local chambers get the information that allows them to go back to their chambers and say: ‘If Orlando can do it, so can we.’”

Learn more about Orlando, Inc.’s electric car program and summit highlighting the bottom line impact of energy efficiency.