The U.S. EPA has released results from an energy efficiency challenge addressed to manufacturers, the “Energy Star Challenge for Industry,” an initiative begun last year to improve energy efficiency at facilities by 10 percent or more within five years.
So far, 240 manufacturing sites have responded to the challenge, and of them, 34 sites have improved their energy efficiency by 10 percent or more. The total energy savings at these facilities amounts to more than 2 trillion Btu, and the initiative has prevented nearly 119,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
That’s the good news.
However, of the 34 sites that met the goal this year, there are only 14 companies represented, including corporations that have reduced their emissions at several of their manufacturing sites. These companies include The Boeing Company, PepsiCo, Kroger Company, Eastman Kodak Company, Intertape Polymer Group Corp., and 3M.
Furthermore, a total of only 20 corporations comprise the 240 sites that have enlisted in the EPA challenge. For example, Cascades Canada Inc., producer of packaging products and tissue papers from recycled fibers, aims to meet the goal at 69 sites. Retail supermarket chain Kroger has placed 26 manufacturing sites into the game (hitting the target at six), and food and beverage producer, DEAN Foods listed 71 sites in the 5-year plan.
Plastic pipe and PVC pipe manufacturers JM Eagle submitted three facilities, but actually acheived reduction goals at four locations. That’s more good news.
But taken into context, according to the EPA, the U.S. manufacturing industry is responsible for nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and spends nearly $100 billion annually on energy. The efforts of a noble few will not make a terrific dent in this statistic, a shame because the EPA also calculates that businesses would save nearly $10 billion annually.
The Energy Star Challenge asks manufacturing sites to establish an energy intensity baseline, set a 10 percent energy efficiency improvement goal, implement energy efficiency projects, track energy use and verify their savings. Achievers earn the Energy Star for their facilities, and it is one of a number of ways that the EPA is working to recognize the efforts of industry and business to focus on sustainability.
For example, the EPA SmartWay Transport program recently acknowledged Union Pacific Distribution Services (UPDS) for exceptional environmental performance. UPDS has been a SmartWay Transportation Partner since 2008, and earned the program’s highest score by utilizing most of the commercially available fuel saving strategies and actively evaluating the latest emerging technologies. Parent company, Union Pacific Railroad, has been a SmartWay Transport provider since 2005, achieving the program’s top score in 2006 and retaining it each year since. Such certifications are growing in importance as businesses become more accountable for the sustainability of their supply chain.