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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.

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.

Ask Area Development

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.
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.

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