Green means integration, not just energy efficiency

As energy prices head for the stars and American businesses contract green fever, it’s tempting to overly focus on energy savings as a driver for greening your plants.

05/15/2008


As energy prices head for the stars and American businesses contract green fever, it’s tempting to overly focus on energy savings as a driver for greening your plants.

Yes, energy provides a tangible, measurable benefit to businesses and the environment when it is wisely consumed and managed. Using less energy (i.e., that which comes from coal, natural gas and oil) reduces emissions and extraction impacts on the environment. Yes, reducing our dependency on oil and natural gas imports increases energy security. And, yes, using less energy reduces operating costs and makes future O&M budgets less sensitive to fuel-price fluctuations.

However, green buildings are more about integrated solutions than single-issue resolution. In a drive to reduce energy, we stand to repeat the mistakes of the 1970s, when fresh-air inlets were jammed shut with 2x4s; when every other light was turned off; when thermostats were turned down so low during the heating season and too high during the cooling season that people got uncomfortable (and unruly). In striving to resolve those energy problems, we created the sick building problem, and as a result we spent much of the 80s and 90s confronting mold, VOCs and comfort complaints.

As green fever spreads deeper into the manufacturing industry, plant engineers are going to be increasingly called to the table when facility decisions are being planned. At least, that’s supposedly the blueprint of green building processes %%MDASSML%% to involve operators and facility engineers earlier in construction and renovation projects to result in more realistic designs and to empower operating staffs with training and resources to maintain high levels of building performance. Therefore, your voice will be critical for averting critical mistakes that could be made for the best of intentions.

So, if a drive for energy savings, under the banner of greening your facility or as a retrocommissioning effort, could result in measures that would result in a sick building, then you need to say something. Productivity could be worsened. Absenteeism could increase. Morale could be impacted, leading to increased churn among workers. And, taken to the extreme, lawsuits could be filed if health or safety is impacted to the point where one or more workers feels justified in pursuing recourse.

In the face of such a situation, plant engineers need to remind project teams that saving energy could save money on one end, but cost a lot more on the other. It’s important to remind them that relevant standards for indoor air quality and comfort need to be maintained. Remind project teams that in some cases, improving a facility could result in higher energy costs. For example, if a system was improperly designed or installed such that required cooling or heating were not being provided, and, when corrected, more energy was consumed. Such instances need to result in new baselines for energy consumption, against which future energy-conservation measures would be compared.

And, of course, when called to the table, it’s important to have your shortlist of energy-saving measures ready. And your list of water-saving measures, IAQ-improvement measures and measures for decreasing liquid and solid wastes, use of pesticides and harsh cleaning agents, etc. Being a model of “integrated solutions” would walk the triple-bottom-line that the greenies talk so much about, i.e., green buildings being good for people, the environment and for business.


Author Information

Michael Ivanovich is chief editor of Consulting-Specifying Engineer, a sister publication of Plant Engineering. A veteran in the buildings industry who focuses on HVAC, green buildings and controls, he served as chief editor of HPAC Engineering for 10 years before joining CSE and also spent time as a research scientist in the fields of indoor-air quality, energy efficiency and information technology for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other research institutions.




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...
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
Safety standards and electrical test instruments; Product of the Year winners; Easy and safe electrical design
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
Automation modernization; Predictive analytics enable open connectivity; System integration success; Automation turns home brewer into brew house
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

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.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
Compressed air plays a vital role in most manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a wide variety of operations.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me