Since the energy crisis of the 1970s, the U.S. government has recognized the need to curtail the energy costs of federal agencies. The government spends $7 billion each year for energy to power its facilities, which span 3.35 billion square feet. Of that footprint, 5% are industrial facilities dedicated to production or manufacturing.
The energy intensity of industrial facilities can be as high as 100 times that of the average commercial building. Production equipment and processes, rather than lighting or HVAC systems, consume 80% of the energy used in these facilities.
Strategies to address energy waste and achieve energy efficiency at industrial sites involve three fundamentals:
- 1. Using tailored methods of measuring, monitoring and reporting energy use
- 2. Leveraging data as actionable intelligence to make decisions and predict outcomes
- 3. Applying innovative approaches to funding projects
Process energy in action: Department of Defense
The U.S. Navy manages shipyards, dry docks, and intermediate maintenance, armament, ordnance, and vehicle repair facilities. Through assessment and analysis, the Navy observed the following:
- 50% of overall energy consumption could be traced to Navy maintenance facilities.
- Metal fabrication, avionics, and painting/stripping facilities were also identified as candidates for process energy reduction.
The U.S. Army oversees 23 industrial installations that include 14 plants and two arsenals, which require energy-intensive processes to operate. Examples include metal plating and nitrocellulose production and rubber product processing. The Army has determined the following:
- 60% of these facilities and infrastructure are WWII era.
- Though well-maintained, much of the equipment is past its useful life; upgrades would deliver significant energy and water savings.
The U.S. Air Force’s industrial platform includes three Air Logistics Complexes (ALCs) for maintenance repair and upgrades.
- The ALCs generate a $90 million utility expense each year.
- 60 to 80% of that expense is process energy, 50% of which ties directly to ALC industrial energy use.
Solutions exist today for reducing industrial energy waste. The surprise is that the barriers to launching efficiency programs are cultural and financial rather than technical. Banishing the barriers depends on a “top-down” approach backed by effective cultural change management and nontraditional financial and operational approaches.
BARRIER & STRATEGY
1. Organizational structures often rob energy managers of authority to make efficiency improvements
High-level leaders can ,strong>create visible inertia by turning energy objectives into actionable goals
2. Process energy ROI expectations don’t align with the usual 24-month capital equipment payback
Measurement and analysis can link energy efficiency to gains in production efficiency, highlighting short- and long-term ROI
3. Staff may view energy projects as distractions that are detrimental to satisfying production priorities
Energy managers can establish and leverage meaningful metrics tied to dollar cost per unit of output
4. Stakeholders lack visibility into process energy usage
Installing meters and conducting industrial audits can drive behavioral change and generate savings
5. Federal budget constraints can make launching energy initiatives difficult
Controllers can institute a financial line item for energy waste; and leveraging private sector financing such as an Energy Savings Performance Contract can ease the pressure of capital investments
6. Energy data is compiled but not turned into action
Energy managers can leverage automated tools to turn data into actionable intelligence by tying energy forecast models to production and establishing programs for monitoring and analysis to detect anomalies, predict demand, and optimize operations
Process efficiency is an untapped savings resource that can aid in meeting the production, financial and energy goals of federal departments and agencies.