ESOS What is the Truth?

Business couple talking in office meeting

When the UK administration introduced its ESOS Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme reactions from business people followed a familiar theme.

  • Do nothing it will go away
  • The next Westminster will drop this
  • Another stealth tax. I don’t have time for this
  • Give the problem to admin and tell them to fix it

ecovaro decided to share three facts with you. These are

(1) ESOS is not a government money spinner

(2) all major political parties support it, and

(3) it is a cost-effective way to put money back in your pocket while feeling better about what business pumps into the environment.

Four More ESOS Facts

1. You Cannot Give the Problem to Admin – Energy is technical. The lead belongs with your operations staff because they understand how your systems work. Some things are best outsourced though. ecovaro is here to help.

2. ESOS is Not Going to Go Away – A company inside the regulation net must submit its first report by 6 December 2015. Non-compliance risks the following penalties:

  • £5,000 for not maintaining adequate records
  • £50,000 for not completing the assessment
  • £50,000 for making a false or misleading statement

3. The Employee Count is the Annual Average – The employment criteria (unlike balance sheet and turnover) is the monthly average of full and part-time employees taken across the full financial year. The fact you have <250 employees in December 2015 when the first report is due does not necessarily let you off the hook.

4. The 6 December 2014 Report is No Big Deal – When you think about it the administration is hardly likely to spend years wading through 9,000 detailed company energy plans. It has no authority to comment in any case. All that is required is for a senior director to confirm reading the document, and a lead assessor to agree it complies with the law.

Does this mean that ESOS is a damp squib? We do not think so, although some firms may take the low road. ecovaro believes the financial benefits will carry the process forward, and that the imperative to make the world a better place will do the rest.

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Saving Energy Step 5 – Bringing it together

Radiator thermostat, heating temperature adjustment on euro bank notes. 3d illustration

We hope you have been enjoying our series of short posts regarding saving energy, so what we use we can sustain. We have tried to make a dry subject interesting. After you read this post please comment, and tell us how it went. We are in the environment together. As the man who wrote ‘No Man is an Island’ said, ‘if a clod be washed away somewhere by the sea, Europe is the less’ and Europe was his entire world.

The 4 Steps we wrote about previously have a multiplier effect when we harness them together

  1. Having a management system diffuses office politics and pins accountability in a way that not even a worm could wriggle
  2. This defines the boundaries for senior managers and empowers them to implement practical improvements with confidence
  3. The results feed back into lower energy bills: this convinces the organisation that more is possible
  4. This dream filters through all levels of the organisation, as a natural team forms to make work and home a better place.

None of this would be possible without measuring energy consumption throughout the process, converting this into meaningful analytics, and playing ‘what-if’ scenarios against each other to determine where to start.

The 5th Step to Energy Saving that brings the other four together can double the individual benefits as innovative power flows between them. The monetary savings are impressive and provide capital to go even further. Why not allow us to help you manage what we measure together.

ecoVaro turns your numbers into meaningful analytics, makes suggestions, and stays with you so we can quantify your savings as you make them. We should talk about this soon.

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What Sub-Metering did for Nissan in Tennessee

Electric meters in a row measuring power use. Electricity consum

When Nissan built its motor manufacturing plant in Smyrna 30 years ago, the 5.9 million square-foot factory employing over 8,000 people was state of art. After the 2005 hurricane season sky-rocketed energy prices, the energy team looked beyond efficient lighting at the more important aspect of utility usage in the plant itself. Let’s examine how they went about sub-metering and what it gained for them.

The Nissan energy team faced three challenges as they began their study. They had a rudimentary high-level data collection system (NEMAC) that was so primitive they had to transfer the data to spread-sheets to analyse it. To compound this, the engineering staff were focused on the priority of getting cars faster through the line. Finally, they faced the daunting task of making modifications to reticulation systems without affecting manufacturing throughput. But where to start?

The energy team chose the route of collaboration with assembly and maintenance people as they began the initial phase of tracking down existing meters and detecting gaps. They installed most additional equipment during normal service outages. Exceptions were treated as minor jobs to be done when convenient. Their next step was to connect the additional meters to their ageing NEMAC, and learn how to use it properly for the first time.

Although this was a cranky solution, it had the advantage of not calling for additional funding which would have caused delays. However operations personnel were concerned that energy-saving shutdowns between shifts and over weekends could cause false starts. ‘We’ve already squeezed the lemon dry,’ they seemed to say. ‘What makes you think there’s more to come?’

The energy team had a lucky break when they stumbled into an opportunity to prove their point early into implementation. They spotted a four-hourly power consumption spike they knew was worth examining. They traced this to an air dryer that was set to cyclical operation because it lacked a dew-point sensor. The company recovered the $1,500 this cost to fix, in an amazing 6 weeks.

Suitably encouraged and now supported by the operating and maintenance departments, the Smyrna energy team expanded their project to empower operating staff to adjust production schedules to optimise energy use, and maintenance staff to detect machines that were running without output value. The ongoing savings are significant and levels of shop floor staff motivation are higher.

Let’s leave the final word to the energy team facilitator who says, ‘The only disadvantage of sub-metering is that now we can’t imagine doing without it.’

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What Energy Management Software did for CDC

Hand Pointing at Statistics Graph

Chrome Deposit Corporation – that’s CDC for short – reconditions giant rollers used to finish steel and aluminium sheets in Portage, Indiana by applying grinding, texturing and plating methods. While management was initially surprised when the University of Delaware singled their plant out for energy assessment, this took them on a journey to bring energy consumption down despite being in an expansion phase.

Metal finishing and refinishing is an energy-intensive business where machines mainly do the work while workforces as small as 50 individuals tend them. Environmental impacts also need countering within a challenging environment of burgeoning natural gas and electricity prices.

The Consultant’s Recommendations

The University of Delaware was fortunate that Chrome Deposit Corporation had consistently measured its energy consumption since inception in 1986. This enabled it to pinpoint six strategies as having potential for technological and process improvements.

  • Insulate condensate tanks and pipes
  • Analyse flue gas air-fuel ratios
  • Lower compressed air pressures
  • Install stack dampers on boilers
  • Replace belts with pulleys and cogs
  • Fit covers on plant exhaust fans

CDC implemented only four of the six recommendations. This was because the boiler manufacturer did not recommend stack dampers, and the company was unable to afford certain process automation and controls.

Natural Gas Savings

The project team began by analysing stack gases from boilers used to heat chrome tanks and evaporate wastewater. They found the boilers were burning rich and that several joints in gas lines were leaking. Correcting these issues achieved an instant gas saving of 12% despite increased production.

Reduced Water Consumption

The team established that city water was used to cool the rectifiers. It reduced this by an astonishing 85% by implementing a closed-loop system and adding two chillers. This also helped the water company spend less on chemicals, and energy to drive pumps, purifiers and fans.

Summary of Benefits

Electricity consumption reduced by 18% in real terms, and natural gas by 35%. When these two savings are merged they represent an overall 25% energy saving. These benefits were implemented across the company’s six other plants, resulting in benefits CDC management never dreamed of when the University of Delaware approached them.

ecoVaro offers a similar data analytics service that is available online worldwide. We have helped other companies slash their energy bills with similarly exciting results. We’ll be delighted to share ideas that only data analytics can reveal.

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How Westin Melbourne Hotel Trimmed its Footprint

Pebble stones arranged like footprints on the beach. Family summer vacation concept

Becoming sustainable is a three-pronged process. You must save money and push the buttons the government is pressing you to. But there’s a deeper, more urgent issue. If your customers mark you down for not being green enough you are heading for trouble. Let’s see how well this hotel is doing.

The Melbourne flagship of the Westin hotel chain boasts 262 spacious rooms with views of Melbourne Square and surrounding theatres, designer boutiques, galleries and national landmarks. The architects included conference facilities, a wellness centre and sundry bars and restaurants. After climate change arrived to stay, hotel management discovered they had inherited a water and energy-greedy monster. Their solution was to measure what was going through their systems, and then progressively cap the building’s greedy appetite.

The Melbourne Westin Hotel could not have achieved results without these metrics. They began by determining key indicators and measuring them. This provided them with criteria to set achievable, cost effective targets in the following key areas of their business:

  1. Water Management – Demand-based linen and towel recycling, installation of back-washable water filters, water-saving shower heads, dual-flush toilets.
  2. Waste Management – Conversion to green products, recycling kitchen oil, moving towards a paperless office, recycling everything possible.
  3. Energy Management – Energy-efficient light bulbs, standby settings for lights, computers, televisions and air conditioners
  4. Stakeholder Communication – Staff green-team training, guest education, ongoing employee briefings
  5. Strategic Positioning – Visible, top-down commitment, optimised carbon offsets from clean, renewable energy sources, clearly stated position in the market

Westin’s Melbourne landmark has made good progress towards becoming the green hotel for others to follow. It has adjusted its environmental policies, increased water and energy awareness and implemented tight waste management.

Consumers are already shopping to make their carbon footsteps lighter. Food stores are on the bandwagon although apparel is lagging. Perhaps it’s time you found out just how your company is shaping up. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if carbon taxes’. It’s a matter of ‘when it does’.

ecoVaro is a software system-in-the-cloud that lets you enter your water and energy consumption and process it online so you can monitor and manage your usage. In no time at all you could be saving money like Westin Melbourne did. Does that sound like something worth investigating?

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How Volvo Dublin achieved Zero Landfill Status

bulldozer working

The sprawling New River Valley Volvo plant in Dublin, Virginia slashed its electricity bill by 25% in a single year when it set its mind to this in 2009. It went on to become the first carbon-neutral factory in 2012 after replacing fossil energy with renewable power. Further efforts rewarded it with zero-landfill status in 2013. ecoVaro decided to investigate how it achieved this latest success.

Volvo Dublin’s anti-landfill project began when it identified, measured and evaluated all liquid and solid waste sources within the plant (i.e. before these left the works). This quantified data provided its environmental project team with a base from which to explore options for reusing, recycling and composting the discards.

Several decisions followed immediately. Volvo instructed its component suppliers to stop using cardboard boxes and foam rubber / Styrofoam as packaging, in favour of reusable shipping containers. This represented a collaborative saving that benefited both parties although this was just a forerunner of what followed.

Next, Volvo’s New River Valley truck assembly plant turned its attention to the paint shop. It developed methods to trap, reconstitute and reuse solvents that flushed paint lines, and recycle paint sludge to fire a cement kiln. The plant cafeteria did not escape attention either. The environment team made sure that all utensils, cups, containers and food waste generated were compostable at a facility on site.

The results of these simple, and in hindsight obvious decisions were remarkable. Every year since then Volvo has generated energy savings equivalent to 9,348 oil barrels or if you prefer 14,509 megawatts of electricity. Just imagine the benefits if every manufacturing facility did something similar everywhere around the world.

By 2012, the New River Valley Volvo Plant became the first U.S. facility to receive ISO 50001 energy-management status under a government-administered process. Further technology enhancements followed. These included solar hot water boilers and infrared heating throughout the 1.6 million square foot (148,644 square meter) plant, building automation systems that kept energy costs down, and listening to employees who were brim-full with good ideas.

The Volvo experience is by no means unique although it may have been ahead of the curve. General Motors has more than 106 landfill-free installations and Ford plans to reduce waste per vehicle by 40% between 2010 and 2016. These projects all began by measuring energy footprints throughout the process. ecoVaro provides a facility for you to do this too.

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How Ventura Bus Lines cleaned up its Act

Charging an electric car

Melbourne’s Ventura Bus Lines grew from a single bus in 1924 to a mega 308-vehicle fleet by the start of 2014. The family-owned provider has always been community centric; when climate-change became an issue it took quick and urgent action. As a result it now stands head and shoulders above many others. Let’s take a closer look at some of its decisions that made the difference.

The Important Things to Focus On

Ethanol Buses – Ventura is the only Australian company that uses ethanol power produced from sugar cane for experimental public transport. It compares emissions within its fleet, and knows that these produce significantly less CO2 while also creating jobs for locals.

Electric Buses – The company has been operating electric buses since 2009. These carry 42 seated among a total 68 passengers. The ride is smooth thanks to twin battery banks kept charged by braking and forward momentum. When required, a two-litre VW engine kicks in automatically.

Ongoing Driver Training – Ventura provides regular retraining sessions emphasising safe, environmentally-friending operations. Drivers are able to see their fuel consumption and carbon emissions online and experiment with ways to improve these.

Bus U-Turns – The capacity to measure throughput convinced the company to abandon the principle that buses don’t do U-Turns for safety’s sake. Road re-engineering made this possible in a busy downtown street. This reduced emissions equivalent to 4,000 cars and reduced vehicle downtime for servicing.

Increased Business – These initiatives allowed Ventura Bus Lines to improve its service as customers experience it. This led to an uptake in patronage and a corresponding downturn in the number of passenger car hours. The pleasure of travelling green no doubt contributed to this.

How Measuring Made the Difference

Ventura Bus Lines is big business. Its 308 buses operate out of 5 depots, cover 31% of the metropole, and transport close to 70,000 passengers on average daily which is no minor task. The ability to track, measure and analyse carbon emissions throughout the area has earned it compliance with National Greenhouse Energy Reporting Threshold 1 legislation.

It also uses the data to re-engineer bus routes to further reduce fuel consumption, energy consumption and operating costs. It’s amazing how measuring is affecting its bottom line, and the health of the Melbourne community at large.

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How Sustainable is Suez Environment

Waste water treatment, purification plant for factory

French-based Suez Environment works in the water and waste-management environment, with specific reference to water production, treatment, & pollution disposal, and waste treatment, recycling, incineration and site desensitisation. Its more than 65,000 employees distributed worldwide have participated in flagship projects like Renault’s goal of 95% reclamation of vehicle parts, and Lyonnaise des Eaux’s saving of 12 million cubic meters of water in a single year.

Suez Environment claims to have consistently increased the recovery rate of treated waste, decreased direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, and made significant inroads into the production of sustainable energy on behalf of its clients. But then surely that’s Suez Environment’s business, and with over 65,000 employees we are entitled to expect this. Given that there have been persistent allegations of privatised water distribution bumping prices up to the detriment of the poor, how effective is Suez Environment at practising what it preaches back home?

GDF Suez is its largest shareholder and includes it under its environmental and societal responsibility umbrella. This makes environmental performance an overarching goal alongside management systems, health and safety, risk and procurement, and ethics. Its environmental ambitions spin out into the following strategies:

  • Understand the interactions between our activities and the environment
  • Open dialogue with stakeholders and foster partnerships with them
  • Set quantitative and qualitative targets at all levels of the organisation
  • Achieve optimum balance between financial and environmental challenges
  • Be proactive; anticipate impacts on the environment and plan for them
  • Increase employee awareness through interactive training and education
  • Be constantly innovative; share successes within the organisation
  • Monitor progress continuously and publish measured results achieved.

These goals direct the Suez Environment management team’s attention towards optimising performance in key areas like greenhouse gases, energy management, renewable energy, biodiversity, responsible water management, pollution prevention and health and safety considerations.

Among numerous other examples, its waste incineration programs convert hazardous and conventional waste into heat used to generate electricity without requiring virgin carbon products. Elsewhere, the same energy warms market-gardening tunnels and work places on winter days.

Suez Environment uses sophisticated energy management software to analyse information that’s transmitted by data logging devices online. ecoVaro provides a similar service in the cloud. ecoVaro adapts to your requirements providing fresh insights to your business.

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How Energy Conservation saved Fambeau River Paper

Making notes about printing machine

Rising energy costs caught this Wisconsin paper mill napping, and it soon shut down because it was unable to innovate. Someone else bought it and turned it around by measuring, modifying, monitoring and listening to people.

The Fambeau River Paper Mill in Prince County, Wisconsin USA employed 13% of the city’s residents until rising energy costs shut it down in 2006. Critics wrote it off as an energy dinosaur unable to adapt. But that was before another company bought it out and resuscitated it as a fleet-footed winner.

Its collapse was a long time coming and almost inevitable. Wisconsin electricity prices had grown a third since 1997, the machinery was antiquated and the dependence on fossil power absolute. So what did the new owners change, and is there anything we can learn from this?

The key to understanding what suddenly went right was the new owners’ ability to listen. They requested a government Energy Assessment that suggested a number of small step changes that took them where they needed to go in terms of energy saving. These included enhancements in steam systems and fuel switch modifications. However they needed more than that.

The second game changer was tracking down key members of the old workforce and listening to them too. This combination enabled them to finally hire back 92% of the original labour force under the same terms and conditions – and still make a profit (the other 8% had moved on elsewhere or retired). The combined energy savings produced a payback plan of 5.25 years. Three years into the project their capital investment of $15 million had already clawed back the following electricity savings.

  • Evaporator Temperature Control $2,245,000
  • Hot Water Heat Recovery $2,105,000
  • Paper Machine Devronisers $1,400,000
  • Increased Boiler Output $1,134,000
  • Paper Machine Modifications; $761,000
  • Motive Air Dryer $610,000
  • Accumulator Savings $448,000
  • Densified Fuels Plant $356,000

In terms of carbon dioxide produced, the Fambeau River Paper Mill’s contribution dropped from 1 ton to 600 pounds.

How well do you know where your company’s energy spend is concentrated, and how this compares with your industry average; could you be doing better if you innovated, and by how much? Get these questions answered by asking ecoVaro how easy it could be to get on top of your carbon metrics. This could cost you a phone call and a payback on it so rapid it’s not worth stopping to calculate.

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How Bombardier Inc. scored a Bulls Eye

Airplane In The Sky With Plane Trails

When travelling anywhere in the world on land, sea or air, chances are, you will travel courtesy of something made by aerospace and transportation company Bombardier based in Montreal, Canada. In 2009, it set itself the goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. In other words, it hoped to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it was putting in.

By 2012, Bombardier concluded it was not going to become carbon neutral by 2020 at its current rate of progress. It discounted purchasing carbon offsets because it believed it would serve its interests better by introducing new energy-saving products to market faster. That way, it would achieve its objectives vicariously through the decisions of its customers. But that was not all that forward-thinking Bombardier did. It also set itself the following inward-facing objectives:

  • Reduce carbon footprint through efficient use of energy and less emissions
  • Involve the Bombardier workforce to raise awareness of behaving responsibly
  • Implement sustainable initiatives to further reduce the company carbon footprint

Specific Examples

At its Wichita site, Bombardier (a) fitted a white roof and insulation reducing summer energy consumption by 40%, (b) added an energy recovery wheel to balance air circulation, and (c) introduced skylights with integrated controllers to lower energy consumption by lighting.

At Mirabel, it enhanced the flue-gas management system by adding a pressure differential damper.

At Belfast, Bombardier (a) optimised HVAC systems to reduce pressure on chilling and air-handling plants, (b) installed solar panels on the roof, and (c) obtained approval for a waste-to-energy plant that will convert 120,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste material annually.

By the end of 2013, Bombardier had already beaten its immediate targets by:

  • Reducing energy consumption by 11% against 2009
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emission by 23% against 2009
  • Reducing water consumption by 6% against 2012

Future Plans

Bombardier will never stop striving to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. It has a number of other projects in the pipeline waiting for scarce resources to fund them. During 2014, it continued with energy efficient upgrades at its French, Hungarian, Polish, Swiss, and UK plants.

These include consumption monitoring systems, LEDs for workshop lighting, new heating systems, and outdoor energy-saving tower lighting. The monitoring is important because it helps Bombardier focus effort, and provides measured proof of progress.

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