Schneider Electric reaps huge savings by monitoring energy use

Looking for a fast and easy way of dropping $580,000 in annual operating costs? Take a look at the lighting in all of your facilities. Schneider Electric, the well-known supplier of electrical distribution and automation and control solutions, replaced roughly 7,000 lighting fixtures in 21 U.S.-based facilities and instantly found itself spending $580,000 less a year on electricity bills.

03/01/2008


Looking for a fast and easy way of dropping $580,000 in annual operating costs? Take a look at the lighting in all of your facilities.

Schneider Electric , the well-known supplier of electrical distribution and automation and control solutions, replaced roughly 7,000 lighting fixtures in 21 U.S.-based facilities and instantly found itself spending $580,000 less a year on electricity bills. It also picked up $196,000 in federal tax benefits. And that was just the beginning.

In total, Schneider Electric has saved $3,739,921 over the past three years by taking a proactive approach to managing energy consumption.

“We are a major proponent of the idea that energy is a manageable investment,” says Cassandra Quaintance, CEM, energy market segment for Schneider Electric.

The CEM after Quaintance's name stands for certified energy manager, and she has put that expertise to use in a program called Schneider Electric Energy Actions, which seeks to validate the effectiveness of many of Schneider's own products.

Case in point: Those 7,000 new lighting fixtures were supplied by Juno Lighting Group , a Schneider Electric company.

“The new [lighting] devices emit a higher quality of light,” Quaintance says. “That means you can install fewer of them. They also create a brighter environment that can lead to things like lower reject rates for products.”

Schneider replicated that success in other areas to amass the $3.7 million in savings over three years. Quaintance attributes that to the company's methodical approach.

To start, Schneider designated its energy consumption figures from 2004 as the baseline for measuring usage reduction and cost savings. It then set a goal of reducing consumption by 10 percent per production site employee by the end of 2008—a metric that already has been exceeded.

Schneider then used a formal methodology for initiating energy-saving projects. “It started with looking at things like insulation, power quality, and power reliability,” Quaintance says. “Those are small things that sometimes have an instant return-on-investment.”

The second step was establishing ways of measuring energy consumption by facility, and each process within a facility. “We did that by installing PowerLogic meters—another one of our products—in all of our facilities,” Quaintance says.

The third step was automating processes, including installation of zone-based lighting controls and occupancy sensors—all of which came from Schneider business units.

Finally, Schneider called on an in-house consulting group called Total Energy Control. “This group looks at things like natural gas contracts to determine whether you can get a better price. They also do energy audits and suggest projects for reducing consumption,” explains Quaintance.

Having achieved its initial energy consumption goals, Schneider has embarked on what Quaintance says should be an essential element of any energy management program: the “monitor and improve” stage. This is important to keep cutting consumption—and saving money—as business processes change over time.

Schneider is managing this phase by installing another of its own products: the ION EEM (Enterprise Energy Management) system.

“This system monitors all utilities,” Quaintance says. “And because we are installing it at all 21 facilities, we can benchmark and compare performance, and easily measure and verify our savings. We don't have to gather utility data from all facilities. Anyone with access to the system—including the CEO—can log into this energy dashboard and see how we are performing at each facility.”





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