Written by Amon O’Connor.
Minnesota’s manufacturing sector is arguably the backbone of the state’s economy, 14.7 percent in fact. According to Enterprise Minnesota, it represents the largest portion of the state’s $255 Billion GDP and makes up 13 percent of the workforce. Moreover, for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, an additional $1.40 is added to the economy. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, this is the highest return factor of any economic sector.
Here in Minnesota, the combination of our location by the Great Lakes and a strong manufacturing economy provides incentive for innovation. Manufacturing has historically fallen behind the curve when it comes to sustainable energy, connectivity, and technology integration. In these times however, there is substantial evidence to suggest that manufacturers of any size should be making business decisions that connect, streamline, and improve your facility, leading to reduced energy cost and increased efficiency in production.
Solutions such as smart sensors, devices that make “dumb” work-horse manufacturing machinery into intelligent, adaptive devices along the entire value chain, are now being implemented in many industry sectors. This type of device-level energy management is an auspicious approach to revamping an outdated system that can add value to an already highly lucrative industry.
With sustainability in the limelight, the pressure in 2017 for modernization is high. If you are a manufacturer in Minnesota, the chances of there being profit from such changes is incredible designerfashionconsignments.com. Companies like Sustainable Energy Savings, Inc. are creating answers and multifold returns to the growing need for strategic energy solutions, bringing manufacturers in line with both shareholders and the environment.
Sustainable Energy Savings, Inc. is proud to be part of this thriving, robust Minnesota community. Our commitment to game-changing innovation is backed with more than seven years of expertise, bringing energy solutions that impact your bottom line.
Jason Ackermann, CPPM
With the changes that are taking place in Washington and the selection of Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, many of the subsidies for renewable projects could very well be scaled back, if not phased out completely. As a country, we have spent the better part of two decades weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. Renewable energy was an industry in its babyhood with almost unlimited potential and most renewable energy projects were easy to sell with a major portion being funded by large government grants and subsidies. Now that the era of incentivization is coming to its conclusion, will the Sustainable Energy sector be sustainable?
Or, is this the end of renewable energy projects?
Riding with the Big Boys
In all new sectors of business, there comes a time when the government subsidy training wheels must come off. This is the test of any good industry. Can Sustainable Energy become the “big-boy-bike-riding” industry that it has been touted to be for the past 20 years?
The answer is absolutely.
Now more than ever before, those that want to see sustainable practices and increased use of renewable energy sources need to change how we communicate the beneficial impact of energy projects. It is no longer enough to tout the environmental impact of these projects. Times have changed and the conversations around energy projects must also change in order to still be relevant today.
Bumps & Scrapes
I know it may be hard to believe, but not every company or the executives that run them, give a second thought about the environment. This doesn’t make them bad companies or executives. To some, the capital outlays need to bring a return, because their role within the company is to steward the limited resources that they have, to bring the biggest ROI. With the potential of losing some or all government incentives, we need to better understand how to communicate to those that lead the financial realm of our companies. If you’re not a numbers guy, there is a great tool, provided by Xcel Energy here, to assist you in making your case.
The benefits of renewable energy are proven to save money for many companies as well as provide an additional connection point with energy conscience consumers. Technological advances are also continuing to improve upon the efficiency of captured energy (i.e., solar panels designed by Elon Musk’s company, Tesla), which add considerable promise for the future of many forward-thinking companies looking to shave expenses.
Beyond a simple cash on cash return there are many other factors within energy projects that need to be quantified in order to compete head to head with other projects. Studies have shown that energy projects not only can save on operating costs, but may lead to increased productivity and overall employee health creating a much greater impact to the bottom line than just the easily quantifiable monetary gain, check thelockboss.
As the industry grows from adolescence to adulthood it will prove time and again, that for the money, Renewable Energy Projects not only pay, but create the greatest value for the organization. Looking forward, it is a very exciting time to be involved in the renewable energy sector, watching it take its first few wobbly trips down the block. It’ll soon enough be yelling, “Look Ma, no hands!”
The Googleplex, Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., is covered by solar rooftop panels. Credit: Creative Commons Lic.
Google today said it will be able to power all of its global data centers and corporate offices from 100% renewable energy in 2017, a goal the company has been working toward for years.
Six years ago, Google began signing long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly from solar and wind farm suppliers. The company’s first contract was to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Iowa.
Last year, Google purchased another 842MW of renewable energy, nearly doubling the clean power it had purchased, which took it to 2 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative renewable power.
“Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future,” Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, stated in a blog.
Google pursued a multi-pronged approach to reach its 100% renewable energy goal, buying electricity through power purchase agreements (PPAs) that locked in contracts for carbon-free energy at a set price. The guaranteed revenue from PPAs also allowed renewable energy suppliers to invest with confidence in additional capacity, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. Google also started creating more efficient facilities that would use less energy.
Google has signed onto 20 renewable energy projects around the world — about two-thirds of which are in the U.S. — amounting to more than $3.5 billion in clean energy investments.
Google also purchased its power through renewable energy credits, each one of which represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity sold separately from commodity power sources and fed into the general electrical grid.
“Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60% and 80%, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option,” Hölzle said. “Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy.” Check out find cleaning service brooklyn.
“Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone — not just Google — has access to clean energy,” he added.
Corporations increasingly demand more renewables
Google is far from alone in working toward achieving 100% renewable energy usage.
In September, Apple announced its commitment to running all of its data centers and corporate offices on renewable energy, joining a group of other corporations committed to the same clean energy goal.
Also in September, Microsoft announced plans to power its data centers around the world using 50% renewable energy by 2018. Click over here. The company also plans to boost its use of renewable power for its data centers to 60% by the early 2020s.
Increasingly, corporations are also pressing governments to change policies to favor the use of renewable energy, which — depending on the region — can be less expensive than power from traditional sources such as coal-fired power plants.
Increasing the use of renewable energy has become a targeted goal of almost half of Fortune 500 companies, according to one report. In 2014, more than half of Fortune 100 companies collectively saved $1.1 billion in energy costs by rolling out renewable energy programs. Visit website for more details.
“Operating our business in an environmentally sustainable way has been a core value from the beginning, and we’re always working on new ideas to make sustainability a reality,” Hölzle said.
This Article originally appeared on ComputerWorld.com
For any business concerned with their triple bottom line (3BL), ISO 50001 is probably in the near future. It’s an energy management system that hits each of the 3BL categories (people, planet, profit), gives a good return in each area, and is taking the world by storm.
There are numerous benefits to utilizing such a system, but here are the top five.
1) Structured approach to energy management
The ISO 50001 has a structured approach to managing energy that is invaluable to businesses and manufacturers alike. While any business can resolve to manage energy more efficiently, anything less than a structured approach risks being ineffectual. In fact, the pilot projects that used ISO 50001 found that it shifted their take on energy management; it “…became a way of doing business, instead of a project-by-project undertaking.”
Because the ISO 50001 utilizes the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) approach, it allows for continual improvement as well as integration with other management systems. It creates an environment in which the goal is to strive and challenge not only the business, but its employees.
2) Involvement of management and employees
In this area, ISO 50001 excels. Because it requires both employees and management to take part in gathering data and reporting it, it improves communication and accountability. It encourages people to take an active interest and responsibility in their company’s energy management strategies, and creates a positive cycle of feedback and correction that gives a business the ability to take preventative action and adjust goals. The ISO 50001 shares the responsibility for energy reduction among management and employees, thus spreading the increase in work manageably.
We already know that employees perform better when they take ownership of their work and feel that what they do matters. The ISO 50001 takes this a step further, involving employees in the lifeblood of the business through the PDCA approach. Visit website here. It does cost in terms of time and effort, training, and maintenance, but it gives back in employee involvement, responsibility, and value.
3) Reduced emissions and energy waste
Additionally, the PDCA approach allows businesses to promote energy awareness and make informed decisions about energy use. Energy is one of the largest costs, particularly for manufacturing businesses, but it is a controlled cost. Better energy use and maximized performance makes it possible to decrease energy cost as well as consumption. This in turn reduces energy wastage and emissions, which are quantified by a third party, lending credibility to your business.
4) Increased profitability and savings
Because the ICO 50001 centers on reducing energy waste, it creates savings. Its focus on continual improvement also creates not only better energy expenditure but better products, as businesses find more efficient processes and save on energy costs. Check site here . In the Superior Energy Performance (SEP) cost-benefit analysis paper, businesses were documented as having a 12% average reduction in energy costs within 15 months of implementing practices like ISO 50001. In facilities with more than $2 million per year in energy costs, payback was less than 1.5 years, and less than 2.5 years for facilities with energy costs of $1 million a year.
In particular, the PDCA approach creates an environment in which products are improved and increase in value. Additionally, the necessary changes and improvements are low-cost or even no-cost, which creates even greater opportunity for improving savings.
5) Potential business partnerships
Last but not least, implementation of ISO 50001 is beneficial for businesses looking to partner with other businesses. Excellent management of energy is attractive to business partners, especially if they utilize ISO 50001. It is already a widely known and trusted method of measuring and managing energy, and because of its transparency, it has proven itself to be a worthwhile investment. It creates a competitive environment in which businesses and manufacturers thrive.
The ISO 50001 has been in play for only 5 years thus far, but businesses continue to adopt it; it has proven its worth over and over. In fact, it’s projected that it could influence 60% or more of the world’s energy use in a variety of sectors.
It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon—the benefits are clear, the return is good, and you strategically position your company to leave a greater impact on the world.
Photo Credit: “Road” by Larissa-K, permissions through C.C. by 2.0
Anyone who’s ever covered a wall with sticky notes to clearly map all of the steps in a process knows how valuable that exercise can be. It can streamline workflow, increase efficiency and improve the overall quality of the end result. Now, a public-private team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new international standard that can “map” the critically important environmental aspects of manufacturing processes, leading to significant improvements in sustainability while keeping a product’s life cycle low cost and efficient.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, manufacturing accounts for one-fifth of the annual energy consumption in the United States–approximately 21 quintillion joules (20 quadrillion BTU) or equivalent to 3.6 billion barrels of crude oil. To reduce this staggering amount and improve sustainability, manufacturers need to accurately measure and evaluate consumption of energy and materials, as well as environmental impacts, at each step in the life cycles of their products.
However, making these assessments can be difficult, costly and time consuming, as many manufactured items are created in multiple and/or complex processes, and the environmental impacts of these processes can vary widely depending on how and where the manufacturing occurs. Additionally, the data collected are often unreliable, frequently not derived through scientific methods, and do not compare well with those from other types of manufacturing processes or from processes at different locations.
“It’s similar to using personal finance software at home where you have to gather income and expenditure data, ‘run the numbers’ and then use the results to make smart process changes–savings, cutbacks, streamlining, etc.–that will optimize your monthly budget,” said NIST systems engineer Kevin Lyons, who chaired the ASTM committee that developed the manufacturing sustainability standard, check sanmembers.
“We designed ASTM E3012-16 to let manufacturers virtually characterize their production processes as computer models, and then, using a standardized method, ‘plug and play’ the environmental data for each process step to visualize impacts and identify areas for improving overall sustainability of the system,” Lyons said.
For their next step, Lyons and his colleagues on the ASTM sustainability committee plan to define key performance indicators (KPIs)–metrics of success–for manufacturing sustainability that can be fed back into the E3012-16 standard to make it even more effective.
“In the long term, we’d also like to establish a repository of process models and case studies from different manufacturing sectors so that users of the standard can compare and contrast against their production methods,” Lyons said.
Through a collaboration with Oregon State University, NIST held regional industry roundtables in Boston, Chicago and Seattle to learn how best to introduce the benefits of the sustainability standard to U.S. manufacturers, especially small- and medium-size firms. A report about those meetings will be published later this year.
Materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Photo Credit: “Pumpjack” by Skeeze used with permission from C.C. by 2.0