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Manufacturers in DOE Better Plants Program save $2 billion+ in energy costs

By Brianna Crandall, October 2, 2015—As the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) prepared to kick off October's National Energy Action Month, the Department announced that manufacturers in its Better Buildings, Better Plants Program have racked up an estimated $2.4 billion in cumulative energy cost savings over the last five years.

Across America, manufacturers spend more than $200 billion each year to power their plants. As part of federal efforts to double energy productivity, American manufacturers and water and wastewater treatment agencies made a voluntary commitment to improve energy intensity by about 25% over ten years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector, through the Better Plants Program. DOE also announced that nine partners have met their energy efficiency targets this year.

Over the last year, 21 new industrial partners joined the Better Plants program, including 12 water and wastewater treatment agencies — part of a strategic expansion to increase energy efficiency across the nation's water infrastructure. Close to 160 industrial organizations representing more than 2,400 facilities are now participating in the program. Together, these partners consume about 2.2 quadrillion BTUs of energy, which is approximately 11.4% of the U.S. manufacturing sector's total use, or about the same as Tennessee's annual energy consumption, calculates DOE.

Better Plants expanded this year to begin working with water and wastewater treatment agencies to improve their energy efficiency by 25% over ten years. This sector faces high energy costs, as significant amounts of energy are required to pump, treat, and distribute water. Included among the 12 new partners are two of the nation's largest and most complex water systems — those servicing Los Angeles and New York.

Over the last five years, Better Plants partners have maintained an average annual energy intensity improvement rate of about 2.1%, well above projected business-as-usual rates for U.S. industry as a whole. This has resulted in cumulative energy savings of more than 450 trillion BTUs, saving an estimated $2.4 billion in cost and avoiding nearly 27 million metric tons of carbon emissions, equivalent to a year's worth of emissions from seven coal-fired power plants, estimates DOE.

The Energy Department is also recognizing the nine partners that met their energy savings goals through Better Plants this year. They join the 16 other U.S. manufacturers that met their goals in previous years. The most recent goal-achievers are:

  • 3M (diversified manufacturer), St. Paul, MN
  • Bentley Mills (carpet manufacturer), Los Angeles, CA
  • Harbec (custom injection molder and component part manufacturer), Ontario, NY
  • Ingersoll Rand (maker of industrial equipment), Davidson, NC
  • Johnson & Johnson (health-care company), New Brunswick, NJ
  • Roche Diagnostics (health-care diagnostic equipment manufacturer), Indianapolis, IN
  • Shaw Industries Group, Inc. (manufacturer of carpet, hardwood and other flooring products), Dalton, GA
  • Volvo Group North America (maker of makes trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine engines), Greensboro, NC
  • Weyerhaeuser Wood Products (forest products company), Federal Way, WA

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Program is part of President Obama's broader Better Buildings Initiative, which drives American commercial and industrial buildings to become at least 20% more energy efficient over the next 10 years. The Initiative also includes the Better Buildings Challenge, through which U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multifamily housing owners, and state and local governments have committed to reducing energy use across their building portfolios by 20% or more.

DOE's 2015 Better Plants Progress Update report is available from the Better Buildings Web site.

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