To any company thinking about starting energy-conservation initiatives
By David Kroeker
Pursuing energy-savings strategies may seem an overwhelming activity at first, especially considering how to start and how much capital is to be allocated. But at CompX Waterloo, we are a perfect example that significant energy consumption reductions can be achieved by using innovative ideas with minimal capital expense.
By David Kroeker
In two years, we have achieved around 50% consumption reductions for electricity, gas and water by going for the low-hanging fruits that generally have lower initial costs to implement. Some of these low-hanging fruits are the typical projects of eliminating compressed air leaks, blocking off vents for the winter months, and stopping to use old inefficient heating and cooling equipment. By using creative thinking, we have diverted warm exhaust air from our compressors back into the facility to help heat the plant in the winter months. Last—but not least—we are using ambient air knives to flash off water to achieve significant reductions in dry off heating temperatures.
We have completed close to 50 different activities to achieve our results, but the most important tool we have used in our efforts is tracking. At first we basically pulled historical consumption details from our monthly utility invoices to create charts as a visual aid, but this easily grew to real time consumption monitoring with help from our local utility companies. With real time monitoring we have been able to reduce our peak usages throughout the day, but more importantly we have been able to address issues by monitoring and addressing our facility during hours of no operation. One example of how we have benefitted from monitoring is our discovery of three faulty gas regulators on the roof that were leaking 400 – 500 cubic meters of gas a week for who knows how long.
The second most important aspect to our achievements has been the formation of a team of motivated mechanical- and financial- minded individuals who can work together to come up with creative ideas to reduce energy consumption for the entire operation. These ideas can target anything from certain processes to the buildings thermal envelope, but energy consumption should also be considered when scheduling production and purchasing new equipment. At this point it may still be overwhelming, but start by having at least two individuals complete a “waste walk” by walking around the entire facility, especially on top of the roof, with a focus of only energy consumption. It is truly amazing how many low-hanging fruits can easily be addressed by this waste walk.
There will be bumps along the road, and some employees may complain about changes to their work environment, but good communication and an explanation of what you’re attempting to achieve will eventually get the entire staff on board and engaged. Some of our most creative ideas have come directly from the employees working on the floor.
Best of luck!
David Kroeker is an environmental supervisor for CompX Waterloo, a manufacturer of office furniture and fixtures. CompX Waterloo’s Kitchener, ON facility was the recipient of this year’s Energy Excellence Award, sponsored by Fluke.