A group of electrical industry activists in February officially launched a campaign to educate American executives about the financial wisdom of energy efficient electrical upgrades.

The group, now calling itself the Energy Cost Savings Council (ECSC), with headquarters in Washington, D.C., began its mission with a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal on Feb. 23. The ad showed a square defined by 12-in.-long dotted lines and labeled "one square foot." "How Many of These Do You Heat, Light or Cool?" it asked, "You Could Save $1 on Each One Annually."

With that ad, followed by a press conference, the ECSC unveiled a campaign aimed at corporate decision-makers to promote the bottom-line benefits of retrofitting buildings with new electrical technology.

The ECSC is a coalition of manufacturers, utilities, industry groups and government agencies working together to inform American businesses about the favorable cost savings, energy reduction and environmental impact to be gained from installing more efficient lighting fixtures, lamps, motors, drives, controls and HVAC equipment.

"This is the beginning for us of sending this message repeatedly over the coming years to a select audience," said Jack Briody, chairman of the ECSC, and president of Advance Transformer Co., Rosemont, Ill. "The message is that in the vast majority of cases, there is a $1 per square foot savings available through an electrical upgrade of a facility."

Two years in the making, the campaign and the ECSC were the outgrowth of Briody's conviction that the electrical industry had not done a good job of introducing energy-efficient products and getting the message about them to America's CEOs. With direction from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., Briody's one-man crusade has grown into a potentially influential entity.

The effort has firm support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency; representatives of both spoke at the kick-off press conference. Maria Vargas, co-director of the Energy Star Buildings Program within the EPA, said, "It is rare that so many diverse groups can come together to agree on something. We think that if this (effort) is successful, $130 billion can be saved by 2010."

The initial list of council members appearing at the bottom of the ad includes the names of 24 well-known electrical manufacturers. The ECSC raised a half a million dollars to fund the first year of a three-year campaign. An up-to-date member list is maintained at the ECSC Web site at www.plug-in.org.