Focus on the basics for sustainability strategy

If you type “sustainability strategy” or “sustainability plan” into any Internet search engine, more than 1 million results are returned. Similarly, a recent study conducted by the Vandiver Group indicated that approximately 70% of the companies surveyed have or are in the process of developing a sustainability strategy.


If you type “sustainability strategy” or “sustainability plan” into any Internet search engine, more than 1 million results are returned. Similarly, a recent study conducted by the Vandiver Group indicated that approximately 70% of the companies surveyed have or are in the process of developing a sustainability strategy.

A wide variety of goals and activities are undoubtedly included in all of those strategies. But how do you determine what type of sustainability plan is appropriate for your business and your facilities?

The good news is sustainability does not have to be complicated or costly. To get started, simply focus on the basics, such as energy efficiency. Energy efficiency improvements help the environment by conserving natural resources and by reducing emissions; they also help you save money and start you on the path to developing a customized approach to sustainability.

Energy efficiency, sometimes called sustainability's “little brother,” refers to technologies and standard operating procedures that reduce the volume of energy consumed per unit of production. Often, the very activities that provide energy efficiency also provide additional benefits, such as better control over company assets and operations. Your local electric and natural gas utility can be an excellent resource to identify energy savings for your facility.

Numerous case studies describe how companies in industries ranging from large aerospace corporations to local wastewater treatment plants have identified and implemented energy savings opportunities by working with their local utility. For example, Boeing identified the opportunity for substantial energy savings (136,984 kWh/yr and 9,929 therms of natural gas) in one of their facilities through improvements to their motor, fan, heating and cooling systems.

While the savings were large, they were not in the range of Boeing's payback parameters. Rather than abandon the project, Boeing worked with their local utility, Puget Sound Energy, which was able to offer technical assistance and sufficient financial assistance to make the project viable. Similar partnerships are described in case studies provided by the Motor Decisions Matter campaign.

How to get help

Many utilities throughout the U.S. and Canada offer similar assistance, including both funding and technical guidance related to energy efficiency and energy management. Through prescriptive programs, efficiency programs provide financial incentives in the form of rebates for the purchase of equipment that meets defined efficiency standards.

Prescriptive programs cover multiple measures that can be implemented in the average plant, such as the purchase of NEMA Premium motors, variable speed drives, compact fluorescent lighting and fixtures and high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

Utility efficiency programs also support other ways of finding and implementing energy efficiency solutions. Customized plant assessments, feasibility studies and design assistance for new construction and renovation or expansion projects all fall into this category.

For these customized approaches, efficiency program staff works with your company to perform an energy audit and establish a customized baseline of your facility's energy use. Financial incentives for more efficient equipment or process improvements can then be based on projected energy savings over the baseline.

Identifying attractive energy savings opportunities and credible partners are two fundamental components of an effective sustainability plan that is customized to meet your company's needs.

Energy management can put into place technologies and practices that not only reduce energy consumption, but also optimize operations and reduce energy costs.

For more ideas

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency is a nonprofit organization that develops energy efficiency initiatives with its member utilities. CEE members include utilities, statewide and regional market transformation administrators, environmental groups, research organizations and state energy offices in the U.S. and Canada. CEE has prepared summaries of efficiency programs that can be searched at the CEE Website.

Whether you are looking for more information to start identifying energy efficiency opportunities at your facility, or are well on your way toward implementing improvements, check out the resources available on the CEE Web site or contact your local utility.

Author Information

Marc Hoffman is executive director of the Boston-based Consortium for Energy Efficiency. More information can be found at its Website,

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
Strategic outsourcing delivers efficiency; Sleeve bearing clearance; Causes of water hammer; Improve air quality; Maintenance safety; GAMS preview
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me