Category: Case studies

Solar-Powered Savings: Impacts of Net Zero Electricity at BEER NUTS

Image credit: BEER NUTS

by Laura L. Barnes, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

BEER NUTS operates manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and office spaces in a multi-level, 100,000 square foot facility on a 16/4 schedule. It produces a variety of snack products and exclusively manufacturers its own products with a wide range of recipes. Products are distributed through various retail outlets and direct to consumers.

In fall of 2019, ISTC and their partners completed an Economy, Energy, and Environment (E3) assessment at BEER NUTS, a small, family-owned Illinois snack facility. At the company’s request, the assessment included the feasibility of on-site solar photovoltaics (PV).

The assessment revealed electricity savings opportunities that will reduce usage by 436,000 kWh annually. Once implemented, BEER NUTS’ electricity usage will drop to 342,000 kWh. Using this estimate and additional factors, the assessment partners proposed a 260 kW solar installation costing approximately $481,000. This array, projected to generate 342,370 kWh annually, would supply 100% of BEER NUTS electricity.

Despite the sizable upfront capital investment, the array could result in first-year cost of $94,820 through a reduced power bill and federal, state, and utility incentives. With continuing energy cost savings and incentives, BEER NUTS will break even at 2.5 years of ownership and will see a reduction of $149,000 in utility costs by the 5th year.

After implementing the proposed recommendations, BEER NUTS’ operations will be on target to achieve net zero electricity, meaning that the annual electricity delivered to this facility from the grid will be less than or equal to the renewable energy exported from this facility to the grid. It will also put them on the path to net zero energy. Finally, these recommendations will reduce BEER NUTS’ carbon emissions by 329.95 metric tons. This gives them a significant competitive advantage when working with retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon that have established sustainability benchmarks both for their own operations and for their suppliers.

This case study demonstrates that a small food manufacturer in central Illinois can replace its annual electricity usage with solar at a 2.5-year payback. Manufacturing facilities across Illinois can replicate these practices with similar benefits, regardless of sector, size, location, or familiarity with solar.

Read the full case study.

The post originally appeared on the ISTC Blog. View the original story.

Next Generation Emission Measurements Help Understand Air Pollutants in Rubbertown Industrial Area of Louisville, Kentucky

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include a wide range of chemical gases emitted into the air from various products or industrial processes. Some VOCs are identified as hazardous air pollutants and may be harmful to human health.  In addition, VOCs can react in the atmosphere to produce secondary pollutants such as ozone. Over the last several years, many areas across the U.S. have seen reductions in criteria air pollutants (including ozone) as well as hazardous air pollutants. However, there remain areas of concern such as those where VOCs and other air pollutants continue to be emitted near communities. People who are exposed to enough of certain toxic air pollutants for a long enough period of time could have increased chances of getting cancer or developing immune system, neurological, reproductive, developmental, respiratory or other health problems. Work must continue to ensure clean air for all communities.

The Rubbertown industrial area of Louisville, Kentucky, is home to over ten industrial sources of air pollutants and is adjacent to residential areas. The area is characterized as an environmental justice community, with a large number of people of color and lower income individuals living, working, playing, and attending school in and around the vicinity of the industrial facilities. EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment has shown that the Rubbertown area has an increased risk of cancer and other health problems.

To help understand how the emissions from these sources may impact residential areas, EPA collaborated with the City of Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District on a study from 2017 to 2018. They used novel Next Generation Emissions Measurement (NGEM) systems to measure hazardous air pollutants, including select VOCs, in the vicinity of Rubbertown’s industrial facilities. Among the advantages of NGEM systems are that they can be either stationary or mobile and can provide emissions and meteorological data to help inform air quality models used to characterize air pollutants at different spatial and temporal scales.

Natural Grass Playing Field Case Study: Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Download the document.

Communities on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts have partnered with a non-profit group called The Field Fund to manage their natural grass playing fields with organic maintenance. The playing fields support the full demands of local youth and adult recreational activities, and increase community access to pesticide-free play spaces. This case study provides information on maintenance practices, costs, use, successes, and challenges for three natural grass field complexes on Martha’s Vineyard: Oak Bluffs School Fields, West Tisbury School Fields, and West Tisbury Town Field.

The maintenance practices highlighted here were created to meet Martha’s Vineyard’s specific conditions and needs, these methods can be adapted to any town, school, or community looking for a cost effective way to maintain their playing fields.

This is the third in a series of case studies created by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), intended to share the experiences of communities that have chosen to invest in organically managed natural grass athletic fields. The first two case studies described the experiences of the City of Springfield and the Town of Marblehead, which show what can be accomplished with use of core organic management techniques. This case study presents how precision technologies can be used alongside core organic management techniques, for those communities that have resources for additional investment.

Iowa DNR celebrates 30 years of Pollution Prevention Services Program

Iowa DNR celebrated the 30th anniversary of its pollution prevention program and 20th anniversary of its P2 intern program with a publication that showcases their impact.

From the document:

Iowa businesses working with P2S to implement projects have saved, collectively, more than $109 million dollars and made them better stewards of their environment. Companies have taken major steps to reduce energy usage, water consumption, waste generation, CO2 emissions, and operating expenses.

ArcelorMittal USA: Power Of 1 contest increases employee engagement and generates low- and no-cost project ideas

Read the full case study from the U.S. DOE Better Buildings Program.

ArcelorMittal is a multinational steel manufacturing company that owns and operates 25 facilities in the U.S.. The company’s plants are located in 12 different states and produce steel for major North American markets, including automotive, construction, pipe and tube, appliance, container, and machinery. Approximately 15% of ArcelorMittal’s overall production cost is attributed to energy, the second-highest driver behind labor. With limited capital budget for equipment upgrades, ArcelorMittal was looking for new ways to engage employees on energy efficiency, specifically around low- and no-cost project opportunities. As part of the annual ArcelorMittal Energy Fair, the company launched the Power of 1 contest to encourage individual employees and teams to submit new low- and no-cost energy savings ideas for their plants. The winning ideas will save the company on energy costs and provide an opportunity for employee recognition.

Ford Motor Company: Dearborn campus uses a digital twin tool for energy plant management

Read the full case study from U.S. DOE’s Better Buildings Program.

A digital twin is the virtual representation of a physical object or system across its life cycle. Ford uses digital twin technology to accurately detect energy losses, pinpoint areas where energy can be conserved, and improve the overall performance of production lines. At Ford’s Dearborn Research and Engineering Campus Central Energy Plant (CEP), the digital twin helps operators and engineers manage energy and operational risks by monitoring the CEP’s energy systems, including the combined heat and power (CHP) system, heat recovery chillers, electric centrifugal chillers, thermal energy storage, and other equipment. The digital twin model pairs a virtual representation of the CEP’s mechanical systems with real-time data to enable learning, reasoning, and dynamic recalibrating for improved decision making. Real-time data is collected via connected internet of things (IoT) devices, a network of sensors that exchange data with the model. Using the digital twin, the CEP team can drive operational excellence by monitoring operations across the major energy-consuming equipment.

Kilroy Realty Corporation boosts engagement with Green Janitor Education program

Read the full case study from U.S. DOE’s Better Buildings Program.

Kilroy Realty Corporation sought to find ways to engage janitorial staff in helping the company reduce energy and water consumption and increase recycling rates across its 13.2 million-square-foot commercial real estate portfolio. The solution was to participate in a Green Janitor Education Program, a joint effort by the U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles Chapter, the Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles, Building Skills Partnership, and the Service Employees International Union. The program offers trainings to help janitorial staff understand the science behind green cleaning, how to identify energy and water waste in a building, and how they can play a part in improving building sustainability.

AstraZeneca: Energy and Environmental savings through continuous monitoring and advanced energy analytics

Read the full case study.

AstraZeneca is a global biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of prescription medicines. The campus in Gaithersburg is one of three of AstraZeneca’s global strategic R&D centers. With 9 buildings across the campus, there are significant savings opportunities associated with the operations of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for offices, labs, and manufacturing areas. Implementing a continuous HVAC controls and monitoring system using advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities has been identified as a key strategy to achieving higher efficiency and reducing environmental impacts for the campus. To implement this strategy, AstraZeneca engaged a third-party vendor through a 3-year energy monitoring contract to provide virtual sub-metering and dashboards for tracking and monitoring energy usage.

Ford Motor Company’s Kentucky Truck Plant Helps Paint a Bright Energy Future

Read the full story at Compressed Air Best Practices.

The Ford Motor Company Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP) not only manufactures upscale SUVs and pickup trucks painted in wide variety of stellar, high-quality colors and finishes – it does so cost-effectively by conserving annual compressed air energy of approximately 9.2 GWh thanks to a major overhaul of the plant’s compressed air system.

Riverdale Mills reduces use of toxics in coating process

Via the Toxics Use Reduction Institute.

When companies analyze where and how they use toxic chemicals, they can discover ways to reduce toxics.

In the case of Riverdale Mills, the wire mesh manufacturer isolated the problem and used ingenuity to develop an in-house, low-cost solution.

The company designed and built two dual-brush roller systems to isolate chemical baths and prevent contamination so that the chemicals could be pumped back into the process and reused.

View the webinar demonstration and read the case study to learn more about the development of the solution, implementation, expected return on investment and chemical reductions. 

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