Superior Energy Performance: Benefits for Manufacturers

There are many degrees of going the extra mile. For some facilities it’s the Better Plants program, or ENERGY STAR® certification. But for facilities aiming for über-efficiency, there is Superior Energy Performance certification: a new business-based, internationally recognized energy management implementation and certification process.

Here is a more detailed description of Superior Energy Performance, published by the US Department of Energy:

“The facilities in Superior Energy Performance have met the ISO 50001 standard and have improved their energy performance up to 25% over three years or up to 40% over 10 years.

It provides guidance, tools, and protocols to drive deeper, more sustained savings from ISO 50001. To become certified, facilities must implement an energy management system that meets the ISO 50001 standard and demonstrate improved energy performance. An independent third party audits each facility to verify achievements and qualify it at the Silver, Gold, or Platinum level, based on energy performance improvement.”

The facilities that have committed to Superior Energy Performance have come to the unequivocal conclusion that investing the extra effort in SEP—beyond ISO 50001—is clearly worth it. Cost-benefit assessments find that it helps facilities in a wide range of industries and large energy users. Here are some of the impressive results:

  • Annual savings of $87,000 to $984,000 using no-cost or low-cost operational measures
  • 10 percent reduction in energy costs within 18 months of program implementation (on average)
  • 6 to 25 percent improvement in energy performance over three years
  • Payback of less than two years (in facilities with energy costs > $1.5 million annually)

These results tell a persuasive story, but specific examples are even more convincing. What follows are some highlights from the various case studies on organizations certified in the program.

For Plastics Manufacturer HARBEC, Energy Management Systems Has Big Benefits
Among the factors that motivated HARBEC, Inc., a specialty plastics manufacturing plant in upstate New York, to participate in the Superior Energy Performance program was the company goal to become carbon neutral. HARBEC is heavily invested in its green image, which is becoming increasingly relevant in domestic and international markets. As supply chains and the global economy become more eco-conscious and regulated, the company is strategically positioning itself as a carbon-neutral supplier. According to the DOE’s case study on HARBEC, “this status is already beneficial in Europe and Asia, where large markets for carbon-free plastics are flourishing.”

To boost facility energy efficiency, the plant resolved to install more efficient equipment and implement an ISO 50001 compliant EnMS—an energy management system. The EnMS was a smart decision, proving extremely useful in managing the plant’s clean energy resources, including the two onsite wind turbines and CHP system. Savings: “Implementing the EnMS saves the company’s sole plant six billion Btu (6,300 GJ) each year and lowers energy costs by $52,000. The $127,000 that the plant spent to implement the EnMS and obtain SEP certification will be paid back through savings in approximately 2.4 years. This SEP marginal payback is based solely on operational energy cost savings attributable to the energy management program.”

General Dynamics Ammunition Plant Praises Sub-Metering
The key to success for General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS), a federal ammunition plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was actually in the preparations for becoming SEP certified. Their goal for SEP certification included setting an energy baseline and assessing opportunities to save energy in the plant’s significant energy-using systems.

According to the DOE, prior to the baseline effort, General Dynamic Ordnance and Tactical Systems’ Scranton facility had used a sub-metering system composed of various independent meters. In preparation for SEP’s rigorous verification process, however, the plant energy team added meters to all their major energy-draining equipment, enabling a more detailed look into their energy consumption on a process level.

The payoff? New insights from sub-metering led to new procedures and operations to reduce overall energy, which in turn led to overall energy savings at the plant level. The DOE states “the more extensive metering also assists plant officials in justifying future investments; before the sub-meters were installed, capital project impacts had been predicted using only rough engineering estimates.” Metering also can also give hard proof of savings and legitimize—even encourage—management buy-in on future capital projects. At Scranton the sub-meters and modeling tools are now used to forecast utility bills, especially when future production levels are known.

Savings: “The Scranton plant reduced its energy intensity by 11.9% (from the baseline period to the reporting period) and attained SEP status as a Gold Certified Partner. The implemented energy efficiency measures that are attributable to SEP save 107 billion Btu (113,000 GJ) and $956,000 in costs annually.

Automobile Manufacturer Nissan Sees the Power of Energy Savings Targets
While Nissan’s energy costs represent only 3.3 percent of total manufacturing costs, energy efficiency is part of the company’s corporate goals—and figures hugely in customer expectations. To reinforce the company’s reputation as a responsible steward of the environment, Nissan’s corporate Green Program 2016 promotes sustainability and sets ambitious environmental goals.

Already on the cutting edge of sub-metering, Nissan’s Smyrna plant had used a sophisticated sub-metering system since 2006, in part driven because of a well-executed data visualization project that made the data accessible to everyone. In 2010, in preparation for SEP’s rigors, Nissan upgraded the system. To better measure, calibrate and verify energy consumption values, Nissan retrofitted the sub-metering system so that significant energy uses in the plant were connected to robust calibration and verification matrices. In addition, Nissan invested $21,000 in 2011 to monitor newly installed equipment and processes that use significant amounts of energy. The extensive sub-metering enables the plant to conduct bottom-up energy consumption analysis.

The impact of the sub-metering on energy targets was profound: Not only did it help Nissan develop energy action plans to achieve energy savings targets, but perhaps more importantly, it helped develop a strong measurement plan that could ensure implementation and verify results. The older sub-metering system was used primarily to allocate costs among departments. However, the superior energy performance requirement to identify savings related to specific actions or projects helped the plant make more constructive use of this data. Its revamped, extensive sub-metering makes it much easier to verify and quantify the results of energy conservation measures. It allows staff to identify equipment from the bottom up to verify overall, top-down energy savings.

Along with the DOE energy performance indicator (EnPI) tool, the sub-metering was a huge asset in terms of helping the plant successfully analyze, track and compare energy performance to help meet carbon dioxide reduction targets.

Savings: “Nissan’s Smyrna plant improved its energy efficiency by 7.2% (from the baseline period to the reporting period) and attained SEP status as a Silver Certified Partner. The energy efficiency measures implemented by Nissan save 250 billion Btu (264,000 GJ) and $1.2 million in costs annually. Savings attributable to SEP make up $938,000 of the annual savings.

All three case studies point to one conclusion: Energy savings on a process level differs from capital equipment savings in that continuous discipline is required to reap the benefits. Extensive sub-metering in tandem with an EnMS allows you to marry data and vigilance effectively.

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