Sustainable Engineering: Energy master plan reduces costs

Need higher efficiency? Drop the piecemeal approach to managing energy and sustainability initiatives. An integrated energy master plan, including discrete, batch, and processing lines, helps industrial and manufacturing companies realize cost, efficiency, and operational benefits.

By Jerry Carter, Zach Platsis, SSOE Group November 29, 2010

Energy management and sustainability decisions were less complicated for most facility managers not long ago, with decisions like switching to fluorescent lighting, installing a more efficient HVAC system, or upgrading to more integrated process controls architecture to streamline production. These and other initiatives may have been undertaken to make a company more energy efficient, productive, and sustainable. Today, managing such a task can become a significant challenge with industrial and manufacturing companies spread over large campuses or multiple facilities, often with varied production systems and geographic locations. Facilities that have high energy usage, deal with hazardous materials, or have sizable waste disposal issues face additional complexities.

For large operations, campus facilities, or companies with multiple locations an energy audit alone may be insufficient to cover all mitigating factors. A clearly written roadmap helps define and achieve energy and sustainability objectives.

Comprehensive energy planning

A fully integrated energy master plan resolves the integration of energy and sustainability projects and assets in large industrial, manufacturing, and institutional facilities. Such a long-term, broad-scoped plan puts in place a company’s strategy to optimize all facets of energy efficiency and sustainability. This begins at the purchase of energy and other utilities and covers all aspects of their use, distribution, measurement, and minimization of waste. The plan establishes recommendations on how to best use energy assets and how and when to add and replace them efficiently.

Energy master plans also provide detailed steps to plan for energy and sustainable systems within each building or multiple locations. The buildings, and the energy and sustainable initiatives installed within them, are integrated into a uniform and holistic system.

Energy master plan components are not entirely new, though the necessity of putting them into an integrated package is a new approach, as many larger companies seek to make smarter energy decisions. This approach allows energy managers to recognize opportunities for conservation, sustainable design, and renewable energy that more narrowly focused energy audits might not.

Integrated automation

An integrated energy master plan, because of its comprehensive protocol, will address facility operations and process functions. For example, integration in a cement plant of discrete control automation systems and process functions into a centralized controls architecture can significantly reduce process cycle times and production per labor hour, as well as improve throughput, energy usage, and equipment return on investment (ROI). An integrated energy master plan would address this.

A food processor that is blanching and chilling pasta in 10,000-lb batches per hour will find that a continuous cooking and chilling method can process the same volume of pasta in the same time, while reducing costs for heating the cooking water. An integrated energy master plan would discover the benefit of the continuous processing method over batch processing and see the energy conservation in using the spent, warmed-up chiller water as make-up water for the cooker. Less energy is used to sustain a 200°F cooking temperature than cycle through the batch process.

An energy master plan that integrates facility and process functions creates value for an industrial, manufacturing, or institutional facility.

Incorporate business goals

Further, such a plan considers higher-level, long-term business goals of a company. It may be an image the corporation desires to portray, such as reflecting environmental awareness, energy conservation, or possibly healthy working conditions for employees by promoting a working environment with sustainable materials. In this regard, an energy master plan extends beyond those responsible for energy management, into the upper strata of corporate decision making for marketing, human resources, facility operations, and investor relations.

Through a systematic analysis of these interdependencies and optimized energy benefits, a much more efficient and cost-effective energy plan can be realized that accounts for long-term business goals of a company.

Sustainable initiatives

With frequent energy cost increases, power quality issues, and stiffer pollution regulations, the need for streamlining energy usage and providing for sustainability issues continues to grow. Facility managers are being hit with a barrage of energy-efficiency and sustainability information from suppliers. Mandates from local, state, and U.S. government agencies require decisions from company managers on issues that many have little previous experience handling. Additionally, the influx of incentives promoting energy-efficiency, as well as renewable and alternative energy production, can bring benefits.

Companies may not have considered energy asset portfolio details and what the optimal next incremental investment would be to enhance sustainability. Is this the year that an industrial company should be converting its fleet to natural gas? Or do the market trends show that two years from now such a switch would be half the cost or offer better tax credits, and therefore it should wait?

Laws, regulations, and reporting requirements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local building codes continue to increase. Many companies are unaware of these regulations, and many would not know where to begin if required to implement them.

Conflicting goals

A manufacturer may have a budget of three million dollars a year dedicated to improving energy assets. It may have six plants in as many states with varying power consumption and power quality issues, variations in air quality, and differences in wastewater effluent and treatment processes, and a dozen other influencing factors. Where are the optimal locations for capital investments?

It has been common practice for manufacturing, industrial, and institutional facilities to contract with third-party suppliers to implement energy and sustainability projects. The piecemeal approach of individual projects lacks full integration and foresight and can result in non-optimized energy usage and a failure to fully realize broader objectives.

For example, a pharmaceutical processor, to become more sustainable, may desire to install a combined heat and power (CHP) capability to offset electric and hot water costs by capturing biogas from its wastewater treatment plant. But 10 years earlier, the plant upgraded its wastewater treatment to an aerobic reactor, incapable of producing sufficient biogas for CHP. Had an integrated energy master plan been put in place earlier, the pharmaceutical processor would have foreseen the CHP opportunity within its plant and built an anaerobic reactor instead, which produces usable biogas.

Energy plan integration: 4 stages

An integrated energy master plan is individualized for each company, but includes the following four-stage parameters:

1. Investigation – The first phase of an integrated and comprehensive energy master plan is investigation. What is a company trying to achieve? What is, and what is not to be considered within the scope of the plan?

This involves interviewing key personnel relative to known and unknown problems regarding energy, production, and maintenance issues. It also includes identifying constraints, such as financial, physical, cultural, zoning, and any other limitations that may be intervening factors in an energy strategy.

The investigation also includes a review of historical utility bills; a review of the company’s carbon footprint and emissions; and the gathering of relevant facility, electrical, and mechanical drawings, specification sheets, and automated energy management system records.

2. Visioning – This phase gathers key decision makers, such as the chief executive officer, head of energy, or the head of facilities, to understand and unify the vision and goals. Are the goals to reduce energy consumption over a period of time, to manage risks, to add renewable energy, or some combination? How do these goals tie in to the overall business objectives of the company, including such influencing factors as product line changes and expansions, and facility build-outs or acquisitions? What does the company want to end up with 10 years from now, so that can be backed into a 10-year or 5-year plan?

Visioning presents an in-depth review of the findings from the investigation phase, including quantifying and visualizing system consumption and output; benchmarking to baseline and best practice systems; summarizing objectives and critical issues; identifying opportunities to pursue; and considering potential paths to follow.

This step also reviews energy and sustainability technology trends.

Moreover, it clarifies and modifies the vision for the energy plan, as needed to achieve its stated goals, and to determine what is to be included and excluded, as well as to determine how to manage constraints.

3. Analysis – A company now looks at all opportunities available, compared with the clarified vision and plan. It more closely investigates those technologies that can be used and assembles basic costs and a phasing schedule to stagger the introduction of the technologies deemed most effective. A multiple-approach master plan is then drafted.

This part assesses energy and water efficiency, facility and equipment enhancements, heat and water recovery, control systems, sustainable systems, utility billing rate structure, peak shaving and shifting, and onsite power generation, including renewable energy.

4. Deliverables – The final phase encompasses finalizing the energy master plan. This comprehensive plan includes an investment plan, energy targets, building sustainability targets, emissions and carbon footprint targets, operational targets, informational targets, and maintenance and upkeep targets. The plan also identifies final budget and resource commitments.

This section phases in the technologies and determines how the capital will be administered. It assembles the needed internal communications tools, such as implementing a cultural shift at the facility locations that talk about reducing water consumption or turning off lights. It includes everything needed to understand what this plan is, how to communicate the plan, how to present it to management, and then how to implement the plan.

Total energy management

There is superior value in consolidating all company energy assets into one package. For optimized feasibility, integrating facility and process systems with a company’s overall sustainability objectives is ideal for a complete and integrated approach.

Energy master planning is a valuable fundamental building block for all high-energy-consuming industrial and manufacturing operations for reducing energy usage and utility costs, and promoting sustainability. Energy master planning provides efficient, long-term management of a company’s energy assets.

Jerry Carter is senior associate, LEED AP, and business leader for SSOE Group’s Sustainable and Renewable Solutions, and Zach Platsis, LEED AP O+M, energy specialist for SSOE Group’s Sustainable and Renewable Solutions.

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering, and

SSOE’s Sustainable and Renewable Solutions Group, SSOE Group

SSOE’s Sustainable and Renewable Solutions (SRS) group provides integrated services to plan and execute full-scale sustainability initiatives in single or multiple locations, as well as implement a broad range of individual services and projects, resulting in efficiencies that reduce costs and increase ROI. The group has helped its manufacturing, industrial, and institutional clients to assess, plan, and execute a wide range of energy management and sustainable initiatives by providing a unique holistic approach to renewable energy, conservation, and sustainable design.

SSOE Group is an international EPCM firm with 21 offices globally to deliver sustainable and renewable solutions by providing architecture, engineering, procurement, and construction management services to the energy, healthcare, automotive, science and technology, alternative energy, biofuels, chemical, food and beverage, glass, and consumer products industries. SSOE has completed projects in more than 30 countries.