The U.S. Department of Energy recently released the latest report from their Better Plants Program – an initiative established to improve energy efficiency within the industrial sector in the U.S. The program is proving to be highly effective at driving change throughout the industrial sector and although the targets and agreements are not legally binding or financially incentivised or penalised, there are many other ‘carrots’ that make joining the program, and committing to the targets, highly attractive.
Better Plants operates three core areas of activity that represent the ‘carrots’ of joining their program:
- Shared information. Transparency of performance data, solutions and goals are part of the Better Plants Challenge, bringing organisational information into the public domain.
- Celebrating successes. Better Plants shares the case studies on organisations that successfully meet their goals, publicises the performance of all member organisations and has introduced certification for Superior Energy Performance.
- Access to expertise. Member organisations of Better Plants gain access to the program’s resources: training, software tools, access to D.O.E. experts and more.
Major Achievements Across Industrial Sectors
The goal of Better Plants is to reduce energy intensity by 25% over ten years across all U.S. operations. Thus far the program has 157 industrial organisation partners (or members), which represents 11.4% of the total U.S. manufacturing energy footprint. So far, partners have reported savings of $2.4 billion in energy costs. Additionally, 26.6 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions have been avoided.
Nine partners have already met their 25% energy intensity reduction target, and three have set new, ambitious targets, they are: 3M, Volvo and Bentley Mills.
Better Plants Partner Case Studies
3M met its first goal to improve energy intensity by 25% over 9 years across 111 facilities. They now have a new goal to improve energy intensity by another 30% over the next 10 years. 3M established an Energy Recognition Program in 2003 to boost employee participation in energy efficiency and as part of that they introduced the Plant Energy Awards to reward individuals. These programs have motivated staff and driven commitment to energy efficiency helping identify new projects and follow best practice.
UTC have set the goal of 40% water reduction by the end of 2015 and will set a new goal for 2020. To achieve this they have produced a detailed water conservation guidance document that can be used throughout their organisation. Plants have to implement water sustainability projects in relation to the water scarcity in their location. The internal document gives plants a check list for best practice in areas such as recycling process waste water, installing flow meters, and implementing leak management processes.
Johnson Controls are rolling out an energy efficiency program through their supply chain to train key suppliers on energy management. Johnson Controls operates ‘energy hunts’ in their own plants – mobilising facility staff to identify energy saving opportunities and implement solutions – and these have now been integrated into supplier businesses as well. Average savings of 5-10% have been reported from suppliers running energy hunts.
How Better Plants is Different
The Better Plants Program is driving specific change throughout the U.S. Industrial organisations are implementing energy saving and energy efficiency measures that deliver savings and become part of the organisation culture. The success of the Better Plants program rests on three important factors:
- the focus on very practical, actionable changes,
- strong communication of vital information and partner wins,
- engagement with household brands as drivers of industry change.
The full Better Plants Progress Update can be downloaded here.