As energy management improves, the US Environmental Protection Agency has updated its Energy Star ratings and has a revised Energy Performance Indicators (EPI) for cookie and cracker bakeries to benchmark efficiency and determine eligibility for Energy Star certification.

“The updated EPI benchmark reflects the efficiency improvements made across the cookie and cracker sector over the past 10 years,” said Walt Tunnessen, national manager for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star program. “With the new EPI, some previously certified bakeries will now need to improve their efficiency to qualify for Energy Star certification since the benchmark has been raised.”

Other bakeries that have received recognition from the EPA and its Energy Star program are taking energy savings to the next level.

Horsham, Pa-based Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU), for instance, has advanced a step forward in a number of ways. Christopher Wolfe, BBU’s corporate director, environmental and sustainability, noted that 2020 was the first full year that its wind farm has been operational via a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement that generates the equivalent of 100% of its total electrical consumption and returns it to the grid.

Grupo Bimbo, BBUs parent company is committed to use 100% renewable energy for its electricity throughout the world by 2025. Additionally, BBU is exploring purchase power agreements to expand its solar and battery storage footprint through micro-grid systems to further reduce its dependency on electric utilities.

Moreover, its alternative fuel fleet will have more than 500 vehicles in operation by the end of this year.

Margaret Ann Marsh, vice president of sustainability and environmental for Flowers Foods, noted that the Thomasville, Ga.-based company is working toward its ambitious 2025 goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 20% per metric ton of product, cutting water usage 20% per metric ton of product, and achieving zero waste to landfill, which she described as a 98% or greater diversion companywide.

In 2020, Flowers Foods also partnered with a compressed air manufacturer to help identify energy savings.

“Before updating compressed air systems, we analyze demand and leak studies to design the most efficient air systems available that meet the bakeries’ needs,” Ms. Marsh said. “Air compressors often last 10 to 20 years, so it’s an important investment in efficiency.”

Leslie Adebayo, BBU’s corporate sustainability manager, suggested that 2020 has been all about doubling down on resiliency for going green in a year where bakeries have dealt with a lot of issues around the coronavirus (COVID-19)

“We had to refocus our resources,” he observed. “When you have to be frugal with your resources, from a best practice standpoint, you have to use all of what you have to the best of your ability.”

[Related reading: Discover those hidden treasures in sustainability]

But sustainability and the broader issue of corporate responsibility take on many forms for companies like BBU and Flowers Foods.

Mr. Wolfe said BBU has also been a strong supporter of Feeding America, which dovetails nicely into its overall sustainability initiatives and the whole concept of “waste not, want not.”

During the pandemic, he noted, BBU’s mission has remained to keep its workforce safe while doing its part to feed America. That includes its partnership with Feeding America that has become even more important with many Americans out of work due to layoffs and other hardships.

“Through this partnership, we can provide food banks across the nation with our product and participate in donation events that serve to provide thousands of American families in need with meals,” he said.

Ms. Marsh noted that Flowers’ bakeries also partner with Feeding America and independent food banks, soup kitchens and other groups that provide food to the needy, which also helps reduce the waste stream. Flowers donated $10.2 million in bakery foods to this effort in 2019 and is a Feeding America Mission Partner.

For bakeries, those are the best-laid plans that never get tossed aside.

This article is an excerpt from the December 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on energy management, click here.