Jan 22, 2013

Operational Changes that Save Big Bucks: January 2013 Tools for Tomorrow Recap

Author: Candice Goldsmith

A large group of people crowded for Sustainable Seattle's Tools for Tomorrow in partnership with Net Impact Seattle on Thursday January 17. The event, held at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, hosted a panel to present three different examples of organizations incorporating sustainability into their business practices.

Here's a recap of the presentations, including tips from the local experts:

Jim Short, Director of Facilities and Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) at  WaferTech, a semiconductor manufacturing company, spoke about their Camas, WA manufacturing facility’s CSR and Sustainability goals focusing on the three P’s: people, planet, and prosperity. 
Two large projects he discussed included an energy efficiency project using a process cooling water system (PCWS) and a hazardous waste reduction and reuse initiative.  The PCWS involves a closed loop cooling system to remove heat using cooling towers instead of traditional electric chillers.  This project resulted in a savings of 3,700,000 kW-hour/year, 1.3 million pounds/year of CO2, and $153,000 per year.   In terms that we all can understand, WaferTech is saving enough energy to power 350 houses for a year and as much CO2 as taking 130 cars off the road for one year.  Funding for this $1.6mill project came from a variety of sources, including ARRA (federal government), other government loans/grants, Bonneville Power Adminstration, Washington State University extension, and WaferTech’s investment which will pay itself back within three years.

WaferTech’s project for hazardous waste targeted the largest categories of hazardous waste created and identified ways to reduce then reuse quantities produced.  Between 2003 and 2011 using this project, the Camas facility was able to reduce its sulfuric acid quantity by 94% and sold the remaining waste to a nearby papermill as a starting product for their processes.  By using Craigslist, waste brokers, waste exchange sites, and calling nearby companies directly, WaferTech has been able to find reuse options for most of its waste.  In addition to being paid for their waste as a starting product for new industries, they’ve also recouped costs by lowering their insurance liability as a direct result of lowering their on-site hazardous waste.  Overall, the Camas facility has reduced their hazardous waste disposal amounts by 90%.

Looking forward, Short says WaferTech will focus on heat recovery to mitigate natural gas use, improving pump efficiency, and finding more reduce/reuse options for hazardous waste. Tips from Jim Short:
  • Focus on areas with most opportunities for improvement
  • Ideas can come from anywhere internal or external
  • Public/private partnerships can help make sustainability projects more financially feasible
  • Conservation/waste reduction is the least expensive sustainability strategy

Next up on the panel was the Northwest Energy EfficiencyAlliance’s Romena Cohen, who plays a leadership role on her organization’s green team, SustaiNEEA and is on NEEA’s market execution team.  Cohen explained NEEA’s three prime objectives: to fill the energy efficiency pipeline, accelerate marketing adoption, and to leverage over 100 power utilities in the Northwest.  Cohen spoke about NEEA’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program, a framework used internally and externally on a variety of building types using the following components: metering, controls, analysis, software, performance indicators, employee awareness, benchmarking, capital projects, plant assessments, and technical training.  Qualities of effective energy management systems include a holistic/interdisciplinary view of energy management, executive sponsorship defining the organization’s commitment,  and being proactive.  SEM uses an continuous plan, do, check, act cycle aligned with finding an executive sponsor, setting goals, implementing a tracking system, and allocating resources to successfully implement sustainability projects.  Having worked on many sustainability projects, Cohen offered her insight that these projects can be long, tumultuous, and similar to the Kübler-Ross model for the “five stages of grief.”  Regardless of difficulty, it’s important to gain help and support where possible to keep going.  Some programs that NEEA supports are the kW Crackdown and the 2030 District, both of which are excellent resources for sustainability programs.  Cohen recommends getting started by contacting local utility companies for their assistance identifying areas for improvement and using the SEM or other tools to implement sustainability projects.

Last up was Jim Hanley, Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) Manager at Terex, a large equipment (lifts, cranes, etc.) manufacturing company in Seattle.  The Seattle operations largely comprise welding, grinding, and machining; wet, powder, and electro-coating; manufacturing nitrite pins; and assembly.  Terex’s background in sustainability began as many do, with an integrated approach on waste reduction through Lean Manufacturing [Editor's note: In 2013, Tools for Tomorrow is hosting a Lean Manufacturing workshop. Join the Sustainable Business mailing list for date and invite.]  and environmental compliance.  In the early 2000’s, they become proactive using spreadsheet trackers with over 30-metrics for each facility, which quickly became overwhelming and cluttered in an international organization.  In 2008, Terex first reported to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and found value in gathering and reporting data that could then be used to foster sustainability projects.  In 2012, they started gathering sustainability data while growing as a company and turned to Scope 5 to help bring clarity to their spreadsheet mess.  

Hanley spoke about Terex’s efforts on energy, waste, and hazardous waste reduction and provided guidance on steering large international companies towards sustainability. Hanley’s quick answer is that “it happens over miles, not feet.”  A culture plays a large factor in the company’s readiness to accept sustainability, and therefore how much support projects will receive.  At Terex, where there’s little customer interaction and no customer demand for sustainability, the result is little executive drive and sustainability projects go head-to-head against other projects for resources and funding.  With Lean Manufacturing in place, Terex had a constant eye on efficient process improvements for cost savings which often are much larger in magnitude than savings from sustainability projects, so Hanley would usually lose the project and resources.  Hanley says it’s important to talk in terms of what executives care about, which at Terex is cost.  Gathering data on cost through CDP and Scope 5 brought clarity into buildings and departments that are using the most resources and thus have the most opportunity for improvement.  Most important in a customer-facing company is that the customers get what they want.  Hanley feels that the customers are most concerned about their personal impacts when using the equipment and sustainability efforts like fuel efficiency gain a lot of traction.

The FAQ session at the end produced tips from all panelists for getting started or working on sustainability projects:
  • Technology to track performance is necessary in order to make the business case for sustainability projects
  • Competitions with sister company and competitors help drive sustainability by making it fun (Game Theory)
  • When gathering ideas for sustainability projects, look to organic suggestions from team members; form systems to gather employee ideas; and internal teams spanning all departments
  • While it may be difficult getting the wheels rolling, it’s time to shift from reactive to proactive
  • A variety of influencers can drive sustainability: investors, employees, customers, etc.  Use them to your advantage.
[To receive notifications on future Tools for Tomorrow events, join Sustainable Seattle's Sustainable Business mailing list. For more information on Tools for Tomorrow, head to sustainableseattle.org. Send questions to info@sustainableseattle.org or comment below.]

About the Author
Candice Goldsmith, FMP, LEED AP O+M is a sustainability consultant in the built environment, focusing primarily on existing buildings at Paladino and Company in Seattle.  With a background in facility management and existing buildings, she brings an understanding of high performance building operation from the manager/owner perspective to her clients’ projects.  Candice has LEED certified over 30 buildings, including AT&T Park in San Francisco, the first Major League Baseball stadium to achieve LEED EBOM certification.  Candice led a volunteer-based Green Team at her condo building in Atlanta, where she developed sustainability goals for the building, including a comprehensive recycling program, energy and water efficiency programs, a community resource for sharing and reusing moving supplies, and outreach and education.  Candice is also owner/founder of an eco-friendly apparel company operating 100% in Seattle: Dolomite Bags.


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