Going green in 2013

by Dan Malovany
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POWER Engineers

With 2013 right around the corner, it’s the perfect time for bakeries and snack producers to make a New Year’s resolution and to develop a concrete plan to outline sustainability initiatives to seize the low-hanging fruit and lower long-term operating costs.

In this exclusive report, Baking & Snack Editor Dan Malovany asks Darryl Wernimont, director of marketing, POWER Engineers, Hailey, ID, about how to launch a sustainability program and what to expect in the future.

Baking & Snack: What are the top three to five things that bakers and snack producers need to do to make their operations more sustainable and lower their costs in the long run?

Darryl Wernimont: Sustainable initiatives remain one of the leading topics within the baking and snack industry. Although much focus came initially with architecture, engineering and building projects, the lessons learned in these initiatives have driven companies to challenge their operations and seek out more energy-efficient solutions for their existing facilities.

The next generation of sustainability will involve a more focused challenge to existing facilities and operations. In many cases, taking advantage of the lessons learned from the LEED-certified facilities — as well as the products and technologies that have evolved from such initiatives — will help us face these challenges.

A detailed understanding of the operational/energy performance of an existing facility will set the baseline for companies to employ sustainable technologies and improve operational costs.

At the heart of this will be an increased focus on energy audits and the identification and understanding of what is actually occurring. With this knowledge in hand, a facility can take actions to achieve measurable sustainability. The actions taken will drive the implementation of PLCs, custom software, instrumentation and alternative energy to achieve the sustainable objectives.

An energy audit:

  • Maps existing energy distribution and use
  • Identifies areas of efficient and inefficient use
  • Allows you to isolate specifics
  • Drives areas of evaluations (monitoring, control, regeneration, alternative energy etc.)
  • Provides details to apply hardware, software and instrumentation to control and monitor
  • Provides a base line of comparison
  • Creates a blueprint for other facilities.

The audit establishes the baseline for identification of monitoring and control opportunities.

Why should they make these changes? What are the long-term benefits and the ROI?

The benefits can range across the board, from those that can directly impact operational costs to those that indirectly enhance employee and community goodwill. Most companies have developed sustainability platforms and, in doing so, try and take into consideration operational, environmental and social initiatives.

We are seeing initiatives that impact and deliver:

  • Environmental protection
  • Air- and water-quality improvements
  • Reductions in solid waste
  • Natural resource conservation
  • Reductions of operating costs
  • Enhancement of asset values
  • Lifecycle optimization.

Additional factors that have increased interest in green include:

  • Public acceptance and, in many cases, expectations
  • Growing government initiatives and potential incentives
  • A reinforcement of a company's commitment to the community and its employees.

What does the industry as a whole need to do to improve its track record on sustainability?

In many cases, it gets down to investigating, documenting and reporting. Such initiatives:

  • Take advantage of the lessons learned from LEED-certified facilities and the products and technologies that have evolved
  • Identify areas of opportunity specific to your operations
  • Isolate specific
  • Challenge existing operations
  • Leverage internal and external resources (disciplines, operations, maintenance, outside service providers) and open up your “what if” option
  • Document and report by applying hardware, software and instrumentation to control and monitor
  • Establish your base line, compare it, report it and celebrate the success.

Environmental stewardship continues to grow. Ten years ago, the cost of going green was a significant factor. With that in mind, the last 10 years have produced positive results with costs continuing to recede as more suppliers of sustainable materials and energy efficient equipment become available.

Another major factor that opens up opportunities and impacts cost is practical experience, or overcoming the learning curve. Sustainable initiatives need to be viewed as an integrated program that brings into play all of the key engineering and operation disciplines in conjunction with major vendors, suppliers, and consultants. The more experienced the team, the more cost-effective the program.

What advice would you give companies that just don’t see the value in starting up a sustainability program?

You need to look at what has occurred in the past 10 years, how market and consumer expectations have changed and ask yourself: If the next 10 years see as much activity as the past 10 years, can you afford not to embrace some level of environmental stewardship?

This story is sponsored by POWER Engineers, which has one of the most comprehensive teams of engineers and specialists serving the baking and snack industry. As an extension of its clients' engineering teams, the company provides program management, integrated solutions and full facility design for the baking and snack industry. Learn more at www.powereng.com/food.

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