LAS VEGAS — Reducing energy costs may involve actions as simple as turning off equipment or reporting air leaks. Getting bakery team members to stay vigilant in performing such tasks is key. Executives from top U.S. baking companies, while speaking Sept. 9 at the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas, lauded the Energy Star voluntary program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its assistance.
The program helps businesses save money and protect the climate through energy efficiency.
Flowers Foods, Inc., Thomasville, Ga., has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2025, said Margaret Ann Marsh, vice-president of sustainability and environmental. Energy reduction through the Energy Star program will help the company meet that goal.
“It’s been a really great way for us to encourage and raise awareness of our bakery teams about the work we’re doing to achieve that goal,” Ms. Marsh said. “It’s a great communication tool because it’s so recognizable.”
The top 25% of companies scoring the highest in the program receive Energy Star certification. Other companies may meet the Energy Star Challenge for Industry by reducing energy consumption by 10% in five years or less, said Walt Tunnessen, national Energy Star program manager for the E.P.A.
Thirteen Flowers Foods’ bakeries have qualified for the Energy Star program, Ms. Marsh said, while more than have 40 signed up for the challenge.
The Energy Star program currently has no application fees.
“This program is a great relationship between industry and E.P.A.,” said Chris Wolfe, corporate director for environmental and sustainability for Bimbo Bakeries USA, a business of Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V. and based in Horsham, Pa. “Not to get too political, but there is a push that they may try to go to a fee program. That would be a mistake. So on behalf of our industry and behalf of the E.P.A., these are the types of arrangements and partnerships that are needed, and it needs to stay the way it is.”
Bimbo Bakeries USA has 14 active bakeries that are Energy Star-certified.
Aryzta A.G. has found value in the program as well.
“I can’t emphasize enough the awareness by bakery team members,” said Barry Edwards, vice-president of corporate responsibility and sustainability for Aryzta. “Everybody understands the value and the reason of why we want to reduce our use of natural resources and reduce our use of energy over time. There are a lot of opportunities to share metrics, share goals, ask for ideas.”
Several of the baking executives mentioned managing compressed air as one way to reduce energy costs. Noticing air leaks is key, Ms. Marsh said.
“It’s not just an engineer’s job,” she said. “It’s everyone’s job to find an air leak.”
Mr. Edwards brought up following schedules for starting up equipment and shutting it down.
“If you’ve got equipment running, and you’re not baking anything, it’s a waste of energy,” Mr. Barry said.
Capturing and retaining heat will save on costs, Mr. Wolfe said.
“The challenge is some of these plants that are old, the infrastructure is not where it needs to be to do heat recovery,” he said.
Replacing older equipment is an example of “low-hanging fruit” in energy cost reduction, said JK Evicks, environmental manager for The Bama Companies, Tulsa, Okla. Companies regularly should conduct audits to check how efficient equipment is.
“It does save money,” Mr. Evicks said of the Energy Star program. “If you spend $1 million a year on electricity, 10% (reduction) is a pretty good chunk of change.”