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By Bob Beckmann, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager and Certified Energy Manager

It is a New Year and time for a New Year’s resolution.  The most frequent personal resolution is to lose weight.   A company does not measure improvement by the size of its waist but rather by the size of its waste – so maybe a corporate resolution may be in order for 2016.

Over the past decade, the concept of Sustainability has grown from a line in the annual report of Fortune 500 companies to a day to day way of doing business in companies with only a handful of employees.  The ideals and goals have changed along the way, but the end result remains the same, and that is to improve in three key areas:

  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Economics

These areas are the heart and soul of sustainability, and you may be surprised that by addressing sustainability, your company can typically add to the bottom line while being a good corporate citizen.  Dependent upon the processes of a company, the objectives for improving sustainability are:

  • Maximize energy efficiency
  • Reduce environmental wastes
  • Identify opportunities for reducing carbon emissions
  • Promote sustainable manufacturing practices and growth
  • Reduce business costs

Energy

The cost of energy continues to rise with no slowdown in sight.  Even if your utility bills are only a small portion of your operating costs now, it will not be long before they can affect the cost of your finished goods.  Conducting an Energy Audit, with the help of a certified outside expert is the best way to find where energy savings opportunities are located within your facility, and how to implement energy efficiency projects in a way that will have the quickest return on investment.   Whether your company is a huge user of energy, or a small one, experience dictates that a qualified expert can help you find significant savings in your energy use.   Some of the key steps when focusing on energy include:

  • Energy Audit of facility
  • Introduction of new technology
  • Coordination of technical service providers
  • Documentation of energy savings
  • Calculations of reduction of Greenhouse gasses and Carbon Footprint
  • Review of heavy energy users in process
  • Energy VSM
  • Energy Management Review
  • ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard

Environment

What was once only a concern of “green” companies is now a focus of almost all industries worldwide.  Some firms are worried about increased disposal costs for solid or hazardous or liquid wastes, and others are concerned about corporate image and environmental impact.  Whatever the reasons for enhancing sustainability at your company, it makes sense to seek the assistance of a certified expert to understand how to reduce the waste leaving your building envelope.  Areas of focus include:

  • Environmental audits
    • Waste water
    • Gas emissions
    • Solid Waste analysis
  • Review of Environmental policy
  • ISO 14001 Environmental Management Review
  • EIERA and other repurposing of waste
  • Design for Green

Economics

At the end of the day, a company needs to be fiscally responsible in order to stay in business and provide an income to investors and employees.  This is a driving force in business, so approaches to sustainability need to keep a sharp eye on the bottom line.  Some areas to consider and evaluate include: 

  • Energy Savings calculations / ROI
  • Environmental Savings calculations / ROI
  • Environmental Impact documentation
  • Various certifications documentation
  • Rebates and incentives research (varies)
  • Supply chain documentation for success
  • Design for Green (Green-o-vation)
  • Alternate fuels

What should you expect from an Energy Audit?

The process normally starts with an analysis of utility bills for the past few years.  Prior to or on the day of the audit, the energy auditor should interview key personnel to determine factors that can influence energy usage now and in the future.  Items such as recent or upcoming changes in facilities, increased or decreased production, and internal processes all can directly affect costs. 

Detailed analysis is frequently done on items such as:

  • Lighting (including levels, replacement options, sensors, etc.)
  • Compressed air systems (systems analysis and leak detection)
  • Boilers
  • HVAC systems and controls
  • Building Envelope
  • Large Motor operation
  • Chillers
  • Furnaces
  • Renewable Energy Options
  • Process Changes to save energy
  • Other wastes identified during the audit

The auditor should then develop a list of energy conservation measures (ECMs) that could reduce energy usage and costs at the facility.  The recommendations normally fit into one of these three categories:  Capital Intensive, Off the Shelf, and Best Practices.  The estimated investment along with payback for each measure is typically included.  The best auditors then quantify how much savings potential there is for each of these measures, and the basic costs associated with implementing them. Some measures will take decades to pay for themselves, while others will start paying for themselves within months.

To do the analysis, a qualified energy auditor will often employ specific tools, including: 

  • Thermal Imaging cameras with wide angle and telephoto lenses
  • Ultrasonic air Leak Detector
  • Flue gas analyzer
  • Light level detection
  • Data loggers for long term data collection
  • R Value measuring devices
  • Multi-Meters
  • Amp Meters
  • IR Thermometers

A Critical “Did You Know”

Did you know that your bill could contain a large cost that is frequently adjusted, and that your true “blended rate” is probably different than your neighbor?  It is because your Demand Charge is based upon usage levels, and knowing when and how the utility company is measuring your consumption can save you HUGE money annually.  Talk to an expert at Missouri Enterprise to learn more.

NO COST – We’ll Show You How to Understand What Your Energy Bill is Really Telling You.

Contact me, Bob Beckmann, at 314-608-7590, and email me a copy of your electric bill at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Together we’ll review your billing statement line by line and help you understand exactly what it means, and what it should be telling you.  Knowing what to keep an eye on is a critical first step to reducing your ongoing energy costs.  This one’s on me, and Missouri Enterprise, with no cost to you.  I look forward to giving you a hand.