Program could bring Texas-sized energy-saving potential to plants

Tags: energy management

The Superior Energy Performance voluntary plant certification program seeks to improve U.S. industrial energy efficiency by making energy management an essential part of a company’s standard operating procedure. To help companies focus on energy efficiency goals, the program offers a framework of energy management system implementation and documented energy intensity improvements. Other tools being tested to support this framework include four energy system assessment standards and a measurement and verification (M&V) protocol.

Testing the elements of the program in operating manufacturing plants provides invaluable experience to gauge how effective this program will be for other plants. As a result, the Texas pilot project was launched in 2008 to assess the practical application of Superior Energy Performance, a program that could have Texas-sized energy-saving potential for the nation.

This photo shows an industrial chilled water system, which appears as several vertical pipes, motors, and valves.

Freescale Semiconductor staff used the pumping system assessment standard to evaluate the energy efficiency of the chilled water system at the company’s Oak Hill, Texas, plant.

Texas Industries of the Future is coordinating the pilot plant project, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program and the Texas State Energy Conservation Office. The Georgia Institute of Technology conducted training on implementation of the energy management standard, while Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory assisted with development of the M&V protocol and system assessment standards. The U.S. Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing, an industry-led initiative, provides oversight and guidance to the program.

Testing for Real-World Results
The goal of the pilot project is to verify that the processes, standards and performance criteria of the Superior Energy Performance program are practical and achievable, benefit the participating plants, and reliably identify plants that meet the proposed certification criteria.

Testing the criteria with plants of various sizes and energy management experience ensures that the program offers value and flexibility to a variety of companies. The test plants represent a variety of industries – food processing, insulation, semiconductors and chemicals – and characterize small, medium and large industrial plants ranging in sizes from 50 to 2,700 employees. They include:

Kathey Ferland, project lead for Texas Industries of the Future, knows the importance of the pilot project in testing the processes and standards of the Superior Energy Performance program.

“Launching a program like this requires resources from both the public and private sector. We needed a real-world test of the value and resources necessary to apply the energy management and system assessment standards and evaluate the plants’ energy performance and program criteria,” explains Ferland. “The pilot plant project is providing good data on the costs and benefits of the program as well as honest feedback from participants about what works or needs revision.”

The pilot program will continue until spring 2010 to maximize the value from the testing. These plants could become the first in the nation to become certified in energy efficiency.

Diverse Plants Working Toward a Common Cause
To provide a thorough test of the program elements, developers selected plants from a variety of industry types, sizes and levels of energy management experience. The criteria for plant selection included:

  • Company management committed to energy efficiency and implementing an energy management system
  • At least two energy systems (compressed air, process heating, pumps or steam) to evaluate for energy-saving opportunities
  • A metering system in place to provide an energy-use baseline by which to measure savings.

In general, each of the selected plants uses a significant amount of energy. Four of five plants have International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001 and/or ISO 14001 management systems in place, and some plants have created internal systems incorporating health, safety and environmental requirements. All but one of the plants has been implementing energy-efficiency projects and planning for many years. Two of the facilities’ parent companies have been recognized as EPA Energy Star Partners of the Year.

Based on unique organizational structures, philosophies and management system expertise, each plant has developed its own distinct implementation strategy, which provides an invaluable contribution to the development of the Superior Energy Performance program.

Cook Composites and Polymers Company (CCP): CCP, a synthetic resin manufacturing plant in Houston, began participating in the Texas pilot plant project in 2008 with high expectations. The plant’s energy costs had increased dramatically since 1998, amounting to 20 percent of the plant’s operating budget by 2008. Company management was very convinced of the value of taking a management system approach to energy because of the improvements they had seen in their safety record and property losses after management system implementation in those areas. DOE Energy Experts tested the proposed system assessment standards for steam and process heating systems, and identified opportunities that could save 30 percent of those systems’ natural gas use.

CCP already had a robust, integrated health, safety, quality and environmental management system in place, and is in the process of incorporating the energy management components into this existing structure. The CCP pilot project team is working to implement a management system for energy throughout the company.

“The initial CCP energy management team consists of a small, cross-functional group of employees working remotely from four different sites (Virginia, Missouri, Michigan and Houston) with the common goal of achieving MSE certification first at the Houston location,” said Deborah Magoon, director, Integrated Management Systems. “CCP considers the ANSI/MSE standard to be an essential energy management component to its existing integrated management system in order to achieve additional economic, environmental and societal benefits. Participation in the Texas Pilot Program has enabled us to gain valuable experience by sharing information and ideas with other companies who have managed energy for varying lengths of time and on a much larger.”

Freescale Semiconductor Inc.: Freescale is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. The company’s Oak Hill plant consumes 210 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 0.22 trillion Btu of natural gas annually.

The Freescale pilot project is a good example of how a company can leverage plant-level activities into a corporate-wide energy management program. When Freescale began the pilot program, the company already had ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications in place; they elected to add their energy management system to the existing environmental management system. Furthermore, Freescale is implementing the energy management program at a sister facility also located in Austin.

As a result of applying the assessment standards to the compressed air and pumping systems, the DOE Energy Experts worked with plant staff to identify energy-saving opportunities of 0.4 million kWh and 1.1 million kWh, respectively, and found ways to enhance reliability of the compressed air system. M&V of energy performance will be conducted in early 2010.

“The pilot program provided an opportunity to integrate our energy conservation efforts into a comprehensive energy management system,” said Mark Krawczyk, plant services. “It led us to review the plant operating procedures, which we modified to emphasize energy efficiency. We have developed key performance indicators and control charts at the system level to understand how various factors impact our energy use. These tools are now used to drive continuous improvement in energy efficiency by evaluating the effectiveness of energy conservation projects and monitoring to ensure that improvements are sustainable.”

Frito-Lay: Frito-Lay’s mission to make the best snacks on Earth while protecting the planet includes using energy-efficient practices in its manufacturing plants and setting long-term corporate energy-reduction goals. The Frito-Lay plant in San Antonio produces more than 50 million pounds of snack food products annually and employs approximately 250 workers.

During the field test, Frito-Lay implemented the requirements of ANSI/MSE 2000-2008 into its existing management program and plans to share best practices identified in the test project with other Frito-Lay plants. Plant managers volunteered the site for compressed air and process heating system assessments, which identified energy-saving opportunities of 51 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Energy intensity improvements will be measured and verified in early 2010.

“The Texas Pilot Program has provided an avenue to verify the benefits and opportunities of our current energy management system,” said Matt Taylor project engineer. “Having a third party assess our plant enabled us to identify areas of possible improvement to our current system and provided ideas for implementation of new technology that may be a potential fit with our system. The pilot program also allowed us to share energy management systems best practices with other industry partners.”

Owens Corning: Although Owens Corning insulation products are designed to save energy, manufacturing them is an energy-intensive process. The Owens Corning plant in Waxahachie has three manufacturing lines to produce building and loosefill insulation, which costs the company approximately $20 million in annual energy use.

Owens Corning has a very proactive energy management program and is incorporating the requirements of ANSI/MSE 2000-2008 into its existing operations management system at the Waxahachie plant. The company plans to roll out the program to other facilities within the division and eventually throughout the company. Managers at the Waxahachie plant developed a list of energy-efficiency opportunities to meet corporate goals of reducing energy use 25 percent over a 10-year period. The site participated in testing the compressed air and process heating system assessment standards, trained staff engineers in the process and confirmed the opportunities previously identified. The plant will kick off the M&V phase of the pilot project in fall 2009.

Union Carbide Corporation: A subsidiary of Dow Chemical Company, the Union Carbide Texas City manufacturing operations consist of 10 production plants that produce approximately 2.5 billion pounds of alcohols, carboxylic acids, esters, aldehydes, vinyl acetate and vinyl resins each year. Production of these chemicals demands approximately 7,250,000 MMBtu per year of steam, fuel, and electricity.

The company boasts a strong energy efficiency and management program, and actively participates in DOE’s Save Energy Now initiative and the EPA Energy Star for Industry program. Dow welcomed this pilot program opportunity as another vehicle by which to improve the energy efficiency of its operations. In testing the proposed steam system assessment standard, the company identified opportunities to recover heat from condensate and potentially purchase steam at a higher temperature, in addition to validating the current energy efficiency project list. In all, more than $6 million in energy cost-saving opportunities have been identified.

“Dow has a strong energy efficiency improvement program that is driven from the CEO down through each business and subsidiary,” said Dave Hake, site integration leader. “The program has been very effective at driving improvements, as measured by Dow Sustainability commitments. The challenge has been to drive the program down to the individual operating units. We believe that full implementation of the energy management standard will enhance our results in this regard. The management standard dovetails into the existing corporate and business energy improvement program and fits comfortably with the existing management systems in the operating units. The result has been enhanced operating discipline for energy efficiency without creating a great deal of additional work.”

What Works?
As a result of this pilot project, six key activities have been identified that contribute to a timely, successful implementation of the Superior Energy Performance program:

  1. Leverage existing environmental or quality management systems and staff.
  2. Cross-train your energy and management system staff.
  3. Create cross-functional teams.
  4. Establish management commitment up front and keep communicating to management on project status.
  5. Hold regular team meetings during the implementation phase.
  6. Take a structured look at data using statistical methods to realize immediate benefits.

In spite of several challenges during the pilot program – complexity of coordinating efforts between team members in different locations, time and resource constraints, unplanned weather events (Hurricane Ike), and the effects of the economic downturn on production, resources and capital – the Texas pilot program is proving successful in helping to refine the program for manufacturers.

Next Steps
The Texas pilot project will continue through spring 2010, during which time the plants will continue to implement energy-efficiency projects, put the management system in place, and participate in monitoring and verification of energy intensity progress. As a result of the pilot project, the initial Superior Energy Performance program criteria has been revised for greater flexibility and usability for all industry participants.

Learn more about Superior Energy Performance, and watch for updates on the Texas pilot plant project.
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About the author:
This article was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program and first appeared in its Summer 2009 issue of Energy Matters. For additional information, visit