Green Retrofits Help Facilities Achieve a Sustainable Future
Even if new construction isn't on your company's agenda, building owners can still reap sustainability's benefits with green retrofits.
Lance Ryan, Watson Land Company (November 2010)

Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Measures for Industrial Facilities (1/9)

American industrial companies spend $100 billion a year powering manufacturing facilities. Businesses can realize significant cost savings by taking simple steps to improve energy efficiency. These tips, from the federal Energy STAR program, can help companies boost the bottom line while reducing energy consumption.

Next: Lighting

1. Lighting (2/9)

Lighting is a significant electrical energy consumer, but that also means targeting its efficiency can result in big savings. Maximizing natural light; shutting lights in unoccupied areas; and using lighting controls, compact fluorescent lamps, and T-8 fluorescent tubes all make a difference.
Case Study: In Rahway, New Jersey, Merck used automatic shut-off lights and saved 380 megawatt-hours of electricity in a year.

Next: HVAC

2. HVAC (3/9)

HVAC systems keep workplaces comfortable and maintain air quality. Simple steps can improve efficiency. Businesses can choose energy-efficient HVAC equipment, commission or recommission existing HVAC systems, install energy monitoring and controls, repair leaky air ducts, consider heat recovery systems, and switch to light-reflective or green roofs.
Case Study: In Apple Valley, California, a commercial building used a mobile aerosol-sealant injection system (MASIS) to reduce duct leakage, resulting in a 34 percent efficiency increase of the building's HVAC system.

Next: Motors

3. Motors (4/9)

Motors are used across industrial facility systems, such as refrigeration, HVAC, compressed air, and other processes. Focus on systems the motors operate for best results. Develop a motor management plan, choose motors strategically, maintain existing motors, select properly sized motors, correct power factor, and minimize voltage imbalances.
Case Study: In Columbus, Indiana, Cummins Engine Company chose energy-efficient HVAC motors and saved $128,000 in one year.

Next: Compressed Air

4. Compressed Air (5/9)

Compressed air is one of the least efficient parts of industrial plants - and one of the most expensive. Many efficiency methods are relatively inexpensive. Maintain compressed air systems, monitor compressed air use, target pipe and equipment leaks, shut off unnecessary compressed air, use sources besides compressed air, and use air at the lowest possible pressure.
Case Study: In Monroe, Michigan, Visteon established a leak management program that resulted in a $560,000 annual cost savings.

Next: Pumps

5. Pumps (6/9)

Pumps are used throughout industrial applications. Up to 20 percent of the energy pumps consume can be saved by adjusting equipment and pump control systems. To do so, implement a pump system maintenance program, monitor the system, reduce pump demand, install high-efficiency pumps, choose properly sized pumps, and replace drive belts.
Case Study: In La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Stroh Brewery Company reduced the diameter of its pump impeller - and its energy costs by $19,000 in one year.

Next: Hot Water and Steam Systems

6. Hot Water and Steam Systems (7/9)

Hot water and steam systems present several opportunities to make industrial operations more efficient. Businesses should identify needed steam uses and reduce steam generation pressure and volume when possible. They can also improve distribution system insulation, monitor and improve steam traps, recover flash steam, and repair leaks.
Case Study: In Bedford Park, Illinois, Nalco Chemical Company reduced steam pressure from 125 psig to 100 psig and saved $142,000 in one year.

Next: Furnaces for Process Heating

7. Furnaces for Process Heating (8/9)

Fired heaters account for nearly a quarter of the fuel manufacturers consume. To reduce this load, control the air-to-fuel ratio, improve heat transfer and containment, and recover flue gas heat.

Sustainable design represents the cornerstone of next-generation industrial developments. Forward-thinking users willing to commit to implementing sustainable features can create long-term energy savings while positively affecting their fiscal and physical environments. In 2010, during an uncertain economy with rising energy costs and a pervasive demand for improved efficiency, sustainability has shifted from nice-to-have to a must-have. However, lack of new construction is preventing the widespread adoption of sustainable industrial buildings.

After a building boom during the first half of the decade, new construction has ground to a halt due to a mortgage meltdown, credit crisis, and recession. This has curtailed implementation of sustainable practices, which are a key component of new developments. With recovery in development still far off, retrofits represent the best opportunity today for industrial users to harness the benefits of sustainable design.

Just how vast is this opportunity? Pike Research says 80 percent of all U.S. commercial buildings are more than 10 years old. This property glut encompasses more than 80 billion square feet, and is one of the country's top energy consumers and carbon emitters.

Find the Savings
In California, commercial buildings account for a staggering 37 percent of total energy consumption, state-based independent research organization Next-10 says. A considerable number of those buildings fail to maximize potential energy savings. The data reveal an opportunity for significant energy and cost savings via green retrofits. The potential savings are significant if buildings are evaluated and upgraded. Pike's study suggests that a 10-year retrofit program based on modern best practices can yield annual savings of more than $41.1 billion. And Next-10 finds that 80 percent of energy currently used is not maximized. Some low-cost fixes could save both businesses and states significant cash.

The benefits of sustainable retrofits have captured the government's attention. Representatives from states including Florida and California are campaigning for programs that give financial incentives to property owners who make sustainable retrofits. PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) bonds fund these programs, with proceeds for commercial and residential property owners to finance retrofits and repay the funds over 20 years through annual assessments of property tax bills.

These programs mitigate the high upfront costs of some sustainable construction projects (particularly in a challenging economy), and seem to be finding favor. PACE financing for commercial buildings will reach $2.5 billion annually by 2015, Pike says.

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With a large supply of obsolete facilities, a global push for efficiency, and a groundswell of governmental support, we are at the start of a golden age for sustainable retrofits. Property owners who find ways to increase efficiency are poised to lead the sustainability race.

Where to Look
A successful sustainable project has four key objectives. First, it must have a positive environmental impact. With a wealth of research highlighting the importance of environmental stewardship, companies face tremendous pressure to reduce their carbon footprints.

Second, the facility must increase efficiency. As an owner with a large portfolio of properties near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the majority of Watson Land Company's tenants maintain global supply chains, which change with the world economy. The uncertainty surrounding cargo volume requires flexible and efficient distribution centers, two prime features of sustainable industrial buildings.

Third, the project must reduce operating costs, including use of electricity, water, and any other resource requiring usage fees or ongoing maintenance and repair. While each of these components can serve a separate function, they collectively unlock a reservoir of untapped cost savings.

Fourth, the project must improve the user's overall profitability. With factors like lower construction costs, government incentives, and mainstream adoption, the opportunity to translate sustainability into profitability is now more attainable than ever.

But the first part of a building to assess during retrofits is also the most overlooked. Truck yards are one of the most important components of an industrial facility. And these blacktop behemoths are only expanding in size and importance, particularly in port cities, due to volatile global commerce.

July 2010 represented one of the best months in several years for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. In Los Angeles, imports were up 21 percent over the previous year, and overall port traffic rose 26.8 percent. Long Beach posted even higher gains, with imports up 32.5 percent and port traffic up 35.8 percent over the previous year. These dramatic spikes have required many users to rapidly scale up to meet new demand, making the size and function of their truck yards even more important. Inventory fluctuations have called for larger yards with generous turning radii, expansive trailer parking, and additional storage capacity. But large, asphalt surfaces also absorb heat and rely on petroleum-based products. Many users are now considering switching to concrete, a stronger, cooler, and environmentally friendly material. Concrete truck yards are also more durable, saving money on maintenance and ongoing replacement.

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Evaluating water fixtures and landscaping presents an opportunity to capture substantial cost savings. Upgrading fixtures such as urinals, water closets, and faucets proves that material upgrades can immediately reduce consumption and yield savings. At one Watson industrial property, we calculated the annual water consumption of upgraded fixtures, compared to standard fixtures in compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The upgraded facility produced annual water savings of more than 42 percent. Landscaping upgrades told a similar story. Drought-tolerant landscape design and high-efficiency irrigation fixtures resulted in annual landscape water savings of more than 36 percent.

Inside the facility, lighting systems represent the best opportunity to reduce energy consumption and operating costs. Buildings with skylights and large clerestory windows harness natural sunlight for illumination, reducing electrical loads. Besides trimming costs, daylight is associated with increased employee satisfaction and productivity.

Upgrading lighting systems adds to the savings. Replacing eight-foot florescent strip lighting with energy efficient T5 or T8 lamps can reduce total energy output by more than 65 percent. Adding photocells with automatic shut-off and motion detectors ensure the lights are on only when needed.

Just look up to see the built-in advantages of industrial facilities compared to smaller buildings. Rooftop solar panels are one of the fastest growing segments of renewable energy. Industrial facilities' expansive, flat roofs provide an optimal environment for solar energy systems, which turn sunlight into significant electricity savings. Besides reduced monthly expenses, the government provides rebates, grants, and tax credits to encourage the adoption of such renewable energy systems.

Get with the Program
With a wealth of environmental benefits, savings, and government incentives, property owners are executing renovations with sustainability in mind. Sustainable building programs are leveraging the benefits of ground-up sustainable development to create cost-effective retrofit programs. While each facility differs in form and function, similar sustainable features are implemented in each new project. This allows for benchmarking progress and maintaining a sustainable "scorecard" that will yield predictable energy savings across the entire portfolio.

For example, Watson uses these sustainable features:
• Low flow plumbing fixtures;
• Drought tolerant landscaping;
• Oversized, 100 percent concrete truck yards;
• Three percent skylight to roof ratios and white ceiling insulation to promote efficient energy use and excellent warehouse illumination;
• Abundant skylights and clerestory windows for maximum natural light; and
• T5 or T8 lighting systems.

Instead of cherry picking a series of one-off sustainable retrofits, a holistic renovation program is imperative to maximizing sustainability. In 2005, Watson began an extensive renovation program to upgrade its buildings in the South Bay region of Southern California. Aesthetic improvements included replacing exterior façades, installing new skylights and clerestory glass, and upgrading entryways. Functional improvements entailed replacing outdated heating and cooling systems, increasing truck loading doors, and expanding turning radii to boost parking capacity and improve maneuvering. The program will result in efficient buildings that meet new sustainable design standards and create significant cost savings.

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Want tips on the best ways to make your facility lean and green? Submit your questions below to Ask Area Development and the article author will respond.
Opportunity Amid Challenges
Industrial users face a multitude of challenges, from a sluggish economy to a lack of available financing to volatility in global trade. Despite these challenges, the need for sustainable industrial buildings continues to grow. The ability to reduce carbon emissions while enhancing overall building performance has made sustainable building features a mandatory component of all new developments. By shifting the focus from ground-up developments to retrofitting existing buildings, users can realize substantial cost savings for a lower initial investment. In a market where efficiency and environmental stewardship are highly valued, your greatest asset for a sustainable future could be your existing building.

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