It started in Texas (as big things sometimes do) and then moved to the Northwest, picking up both speed and support. It is now taking root in several other regions across the country. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), working through the Industrial Technologies Program's (ITP's) Save Energy Now initiative, is sponsoring a series of energy management demonstrations to provide U.S. industrial facilities with a roadmap for achieving continuous improvement in energy efficiency through strategic energy management.

Industrial stock photo of a man in a hardhat

Project teams composed of energy management experts working with ITP are now in the process of recruiting manufacturing plants in the Northwest, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Southeast regions to participate in these energy management demonstrations. The companies selected will test the elements of Superior Energy Performance (SEP), a forthcoming American National Standards Institute-accredited energy management certification program currently under development by the U.S. Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing (USCEEM). Upon its expected launch in 2011, the SEP certification program will provide companies with a proven framework for implementing a full-fledged energy management system (standard) and validating energy intensity reductions. Prior to completion, however, USCEEM will take lessons learned from the companies participating in the energy management demonstrations to help shape and refine the certification program.

Companies taking part in the energy management demonstrations will have the opportunity to reap quite a few benefits of their own. They will have access to training workshops, one-on-one coaching, and Web-based seminars, as well as a suite of tailored technical assistance, energy assessments, and software tools made available by ITP's Save Energy Now LEADER program. This support is designed to help participating plants reduce their energy use and costs by 5–15% over three years. In fact, the guidance and technical assistance provided through SEP constitutes key components of the larger Save Energy Now LEADER strategy—a national initiative sponsored by ITP that aims to drive a 25% reduction in industrial energy intensity in 10 years. As industry currently accounts for nearly one-third of all U.S. carbon emissions and represents one in five private-sector jobs, the potential SEP has in making progress toward greater industrial energy efficiency will strengthen the U.S. economy and provide practical, near-term solutions for significant energy and carbon reductions.

Companies that participate in the energy management demonstrations will also receive national recognition for their commitment to energy efficiency and gain a leg up on their competition by becoming some of the first plants in the United States to be certified through SEP. Importantly, the companies that successfully complete the requirements of the energy management demonstrations will also be well positioned to follow the related roadmap for continuous improvement in energy efficiency and conform to the forthcoming International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 50001 energy management system standard. [See box below.]

ISO 50001

Energy Management System Standard

One of the principal barriers to promoting widespread adoption of energy management best practices is the lack of clear and comprehensive standards that companies can use to guide the development of an energy management plan and against which to measure performance. Stepping into the breach is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) with its international energy management system standard, ISO 50001. The United States and Brazil are leading efforts to develop ISO 50001, along with China and the United Kingdom. The international standard is expected to be ready for publication in early 2011, at which point it is expected to replace the current national standard in the United States—the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Management System for Energy (MSE) standard, ANSI/MSE 2000-2008. The United States' participation in the development of ISO 50001 is being coordinated through ANSI.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also plans to use ISO 50001 as the organizing framework for the Superior Energy Performance (SEP) energy management certification program. DOE is developing SEP in conjunction with the U.S. Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing. This will add to the traction that the international standard can be achieved domestically. Features of SEP and the foundational Save Energy Now LEADER initiative—which provides the tools, training, and technical resources that enable actual progress toward energy efficiency goals—will lay the crucial groundwork for companies to implement the ISO 50001 standard. Collectively, this assistance and guidance will empower companies to achieve significant and sustained energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions in their plants.

Because ISO 50001 is a voluntary standard as opposed to a regulatory requirement, its uptake will depend on how companies perceive its value to their organization. If widely adopted, it could influence up to 60% of the world's energy use across many economic sectors. In particular, the adoption of ISO 50001 will be driven by factors such as the growth of corporate sustainability programs and the spread of energy management standards along the manufacturing supply chain. Companies may also find the energy and carbon reductions achievable through adherence to the ISO 50001 standard increasingly valuable as a means to comply with possible cap-and-trade regimes that are under consideration, avoid carbon or energy taxes, comport with international climate agreements, or enhance their corporate value by burnishing their green manufacturing credentials.

The ambitions of this series of energy management demonstrations extend beyond the more concrete goals of providing an energy efficiency roadmap and contributing to the development of SEP. It is also intended to help build energy management expertise at the state, regional, and plant levels by showcasing lessons learned and best practices. Through this education, the series aims to increase energy savings and reduce associated carbon reductions throughout the nation. By involving industrial personnel at all levels, SEP and the energy management demonstrations encourage a far-reaching culture change in how energy is managed at the facility level. While USCEEM—along with DOE—is guiding the development of the SEP program, once underway, it is intended to become a self-sustaining program through plant certification fees.

Because of the tremendous opportunity represented by the energy management demonstration series and the lofty goals it hopes to attain, companies must meet certain requirements to take part. To be selected, a company should be prepared to assure senior-level commitment to energy management, including the allocation of appropriate resources. Additionally, at least one certified management system must already be in place (e.g., ISO 9001 [quality], ISO 14001 [environmental], ISO 22000 [food safety], OHSAS 1800 [health and safety]). While not an absolute requirement, experience with management system certification demonstrates a well-developed understanding of this project's requirements and a history of commitment to success within a designated time period. A key part of implementing an energy management system is integrating knowledgeable plant personnel into the process; therefore, participating companies must also be willing to dedicate their staff members' time to attend training and actually implement this project's activities at their plants.

Two additional characteristics are necessary for any company wishing to participate. First, in order to be considered, companies must sign the voluntary Save Energy Now LEADER Pledge and commit to reducing their energy intensity 25% in 10 years. Second, companies should be willing to pursue SEP certification through participation in an audit that will look at records showing conformance to the forthcoming ISO 50001 energy management standard and a minimum of 48 months of plant energy consumption data to demonstrate a minimum improvement of 5% in energy intensity over a three-year period.

Four companies with plants in Texas—Cook Composites and Polymers Company; Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.; Owens Corning; and The Dow Chemical Company—kicked things off in May 2008, participating in a pilot project funded by DOE and the Texas State Energy Conservation Office. The Texas Industries of the Future program coordinated the pilot with help from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Georgia Tech, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In October 2009, DOE launched the Northwest Energy Management Demonstration Project in coordination with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and four participating companies—Grays Harbor Paper, PACCAR/Kenworth Truck Company, Amcor PET Packaging, and J.R. Simplot Company Aberdeen Food Plant. Moving forward, the energy management demonstrations project will be rolled out in the Southeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast regions in Spring/Summer 2010; California and Colorado in Summer/Fall 2010; and will head back to Texas in Fall 2011. In total, 23 states will be included: AR, CA, CO, CT, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MA, MN, NH, NC, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI and WV.

For more information on energy management demonstrations, visit http://www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/energymanagementdemonstrations/index.html.