By Brianna Brand
Although popular and highly effective, solar panels aren’t the only option to save on energy costs.
In fact, energy efficiency is a tried and true method to reduce energy consumption and lower energy costs with a rapid return on investment. Beyond the economic benefits, energy efficiency measures such as improved lighting, weatherization and efficient heating and cooling equipment can actually improve overall building comfort and productivity at home and at work.
Look no further for a success story than MilliporeSigma, a global company with 65 manufacturing sites worldwide and more than 19,000 employees. One of their largest manufacturing facilities — located in our own backyard: Jaffrey, New Hampshire — produces precision filtration devices for use in the food and beverage, ultra-pure water and pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. The Jaffrey plant continuously implements energy efficiency measures targeted at reducing costs while working towards the company’s corporate goal of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 versus 2006 levels.
First, MilliporeSigma completed an energy assessment. This process evaluates building energy use and opportunities for improvement. Next, MilliporeSigma developed an implementation plan for the identified energy efficiency measures — resulting in a multi-year project to upgrade the facility — including swapping out fluorescent lighting with LEDs.
Lighting is an easy target for cost savings through efficiency improvements, especially considering it’s typically the largest single use of electricity in commercial buildings nation-wide, according to USDOE. LEDs are a popular choice because they use only a fraction of the energy to produce the same amount of light compared to their fluorescent and incandescent counterparts. This typically leads to a rapid and attractive ROI. LEDs can also have an indirect bonus effect on air-conditioned or refrigerated spaces due to their significantly lower heat generation, thus reducing the load on cooling equipment.
“LED lighting is at a tipping point where its cost and quality makes for an attractive energy efficiency project at just about any of our facilities,” says Christopher Famolare, global manager of sustainable operations at MilliporeSigma.
To date, 90 percent of the 300,000-square-foot Jaffrey manufacturing facility has transitioned to LED lighting. Since it runs a 24/7 operation, in some areas of the facility, the lights never turn off, so switching to the long-lasting LEDs not only saves on energy costs, but maintenance costs as well.
MilliporeSigma considers the LED project a part of its natural progression of investments in the facility, proven to positively influence productivity, employee engagement, and job satisfaction.
“It’s a nicer place to work. Our employees can attest to that,” says Chad Gerald, Head of Engineering at the Jaffrey plant.
The upfront cost of the latest year’s LED lighting project was $177,000, which included the replacement of 2,578 lights. Although a large capital investment, MilliporeSigma secured $40,000 worth of utility rebates to help offset the cost.
“We encourage our sites to leverage all available rebate and incentive programs,” says Famolare.
Rebates are available for businesses through NHSaves, a collaboration of the four New Hampshire electric utilities. The rebate programs are so popular that they are often oversubscribed halfway through the year. NH recently passed a new Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) to increase the funding and savings goals for the next three years, which will help more businesses save money on energy costs.
MilliporeSigma’s Jaffrey facility didn’t stop at LEDs. They took on a project that hits home for their employees – aiming to help employees reduce their carbon footprint and save on fuel costs. It involved the installation of ChargePoint electric vehicle charging stations, which are made available to employees and visitors free of charge.
“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles at the site from all three shifts,” says Gerald.
MilliporeSigma began installing electric vehicle charging equipment at its facilities in 2014 and continues to grow the network as demand increases.
“Around the world, we have installed 42 electric vehicle charge ports and reserved 64 parking spaces for EV drivers, the highest concentration being in the U.S.,” adds Famolare.
Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular, and expanded charging infrastructure around the state supports this growth. Companies that offer EV charging have a clear advantage when it comes to retention and attraction of talent.
Overall, energy efficiency projects like the LED installations at MilliporeSigma are an attractive option for the business sector to save on energy costs. New Hampshire’s recent EERS provides vital funding increases to the currently oversubscribed rebate programs, ensuring more businesses have opportunities to perform efficiency projects.
Brianna Brand is the program director at the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association.
Original article from NHBR available at: http://www.nhbr.com/September-29-2017/Energy-efficiency-benefits-NH-businesses/