A tour of a factory last week revealed a common problem in growing companies – a lack of uniformity in energy efficiency as a business grows!
Our tour was of a company that was established over 70 years ago. A steady growth in production meant multiple additions and expansions to the original structures. Each addition included the most energy efficient technology of that era, but did not address the technology in the older portions that were being added on to. The result was similar to the layers of an onion where each layer contained progressively more efficient energy technology. It was rather fascinating from a historical perspective.
In an older section of the factory 200 watt incandescent bulbs hung from the ceiling and barely lit a cavernous, poorly insulated steel warehouse. In stark contrast the most recent addition was brightly lit by the latest LED technology, and had cutting edge insulated metal panel (IMP) walls and ceilings.
The success of the business resulted in a 24/7 operation that requires massive energy. The company is keenly aware of the energy that was being wasted in their older facilities and had called in The Energy Alliance Group to determine key areas where wasted energy could be eliminated.
One key area of energy waste is lighting. Much of the business operation takes place in areas that are semi-automated with limited personnel activity. Even though light in those areas is rarely needed the lights stay on constantly! Many of the hallways connecting the various operations are only used occasionally by forklifts and yet they are brightly lit all the time. Upgrading the lights to an energy efficient version would provide a significant level of savings. Adding automated controls or motion sensors would result in an additional layer of savings!
Our guide told us an interesting story of a time when the plant shut down for a whole week. The personnel in charge of the shutdown had a hard time turning lights off because they didn’t know where the switches were. They had never turned the lights off – a huge waste!
The tipping point that initiated our visit was when the company’s leadership heard a presentation on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). The PACE program is a special financing initiative focused on energy efficiency upgrades. The loan is repaid through a special property tax assessment. The leadership team realized PACE was the perfect opportunity to upgrade their outdated, and wasteful energy technology without a negative effect on their cash flow. A key component of the PACE program is the requirement that energy projects must be paid for out of the energy savings. A PACE project actually frees up cash that was formerly being spent on wasted energy.
The tour of the facility, and the contrasting energy technologies that it revealed, was extremely interesting. What I predict will be even more interesting is the story of the savings and benefits that result from this very compelling project. A story that I look forward to telling as the project evolves!
Are you considering an Energy Efficiency Upgrade? The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan has compiled a free report – Ten Questions to Ask Before an Energy Efficiency Upgrade! The report details the important information that will assure a successful outcome. If you want a copy of the report send an e-mail to email@example.com with “10 Questions” in the subject line.