Thanks to on-site plant visits by Georgia Tech students to evaluate energy-saving opportunities at Beaulieu of America, the carpet manufacturer discovered it could reduce its utility use by almost 15 percent with an estimated annual savings of $2 million, reports Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute.
The site visits addressed energy issues important to the specific plants including energy management, boilers, steam systems, large motor and drives, and compressed air systems.
The overall goals were to understand how management systems apply to energy conservation, recognize significant cost saving opportunities and typical paybacks, and identify specific opportunities at each facility, according to the institute.
With funding from the Georgia Environmental Partnership (GEP), Georgia Tech conducted water, energy efficiency and conservation assessments at five of Beaulieu’s facilities. GEP includes the Sustainability Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the University of Georgia’s Engineering Outreach Service and Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute.
Based on the assessment data, Bob Hitch, a project manager with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute and other energy specialists at Georgia Tech made energy conservation recommendations for each facility.
Energy assessments can garner huge savings across all manufacturing sectors. As an example, the Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now program has helped companies identify $1.3 billion in cost savings as a result of 2,000 plant energy assessments starting in 2006.
In addition to the energy conservation projects, DNR helped Beaulieu with its water conservation efforts. Based on the group’s recommendations, the carpet manufacturer could save more than 25 million gallons per year, or $81,600. Six months into the implementation, the team has already achieved $60,000 in savings.