A Holistic Process Helps Brown Printing Go Green
The staff at Brown Printing in Waseca, Minnesota was always conscious of energy conservation. Over 50 years of serving premier publishers, catalogers, and retailers across the United States taught them that efficiency matters.
In the fall of 2007, with a $6-million energy bill, rising energy prices, and a softening economy, they went looking for the right partner to help them consume less energy. The goal was two-fold: save energy and money, and position Brown as a leader in environmental responsibility among world class publishers.
Choosing a Team
It often takes a village to figure out the best comprehensive answer to energy conservation. Xcel Energy hired several organizations to help gauge current energy use in Brown’s existing systems such as heating and cooling, compressed air, lighting, motors and drives, chillers, boilers, production equipment, press drying ovens, and pollution control equipment. They reviewed the company’s mechanical and electrical systems as well as the building management system. A final partnership with ENERGY STAR also helped them benchmark existing usage and come up with a list of priorities.
Four primary areas of focus quickly rose to the top:
1. Brown’s compressed air systems – which were using 17 percent of the overall energy
2. Conservation practices though employee engagement
3. Electrical related issues such as power monitoring, peak demand control, chillers and lighting
4. The drives in both the HVAC Bindery and new equipment
Compressed Air – A Better Match to Their Needs
Brown had been using the standard 90-pound compressed air for the bulk of its printing operations. Parts of the binding and page feeding equipment required a lower operating pressure, in the 30 psi range, and the 90 psi air was being regulated down to this pressure.
After evaluating the compressed air usage in the Bindery, Veldboom realized that about 40 percent required the lower pressure. A new medium pressure air system was installed which could serve the lower air pressure needs.
“With that system in place, we turned the high pressure compressor off and it resulted in a net power reduction of 3 percent,” says Veldboom. “The overall electrical savings was 3.75 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). That’s enough power to supply 365 homes and reduces our carbon dioxide output by 995 tons.”
Energy Star offers many tools and resources to educate and motivate employees on energy management. Taking a page from that model, Brown engaged its employees with an “Air Leak Challenge” contest. They asked employees to find and point out leaks in the system by examining both technologies and practices. Johnson helped review them, fix them, and put procedures in place to ensure the leaks didn’t come back. As a bonus, the employees enjoyed both the challenge and the education the findings provided.
A second employee-themed component was pointing out how much electricity was used in the facility’s lighting. Johnson made some charts that told employees how many dollars it cost to light a particular fixture for an hour, a day, a week, or longer. He welcomed and encouraged suggestions for improvements. The results included new motion sensors and a reduction in lighting certain areas. The savings were a whopping $20,000.
HVAC Bindery Drives
The second initiative involved the possibility of employing Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s) on the Bindery’s Heating Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) system. Fans run constantly to heat and cool the plant. VFDs were installed to reduce the speed of the motor to match the requirement for air. This dramatically reduced the amount of natural gas required to heat the outside air drawn into the system and the amount of electrical energy required to run the fans.
“There’s a rough rule for these applications,” says Marcus Hendrickson, Xcel Energy Account Manager. “If you decrease the motor speed by 50 percent, the energy consumption is 1/8th or 20 percent. The key here is to have a control system which monitors the airflow and backs down the motor speed according to the needs.” Hendrickson says the payback period on the VFD alone was just over a year after rebates and energy savings.
The Big Picture
The holistic process to a more efficient plant has served Brown Printing well by ultimately helping them save 10 percent of a $6-million dollar energy bill.
Xcel Energy rebates for lighting occupancy sensors, compressed air equipment, and variable frequency drives totaled $185,000, and resulted in energy savings of 7.3 million kWh of electricity.
The utility and ENERGY STAR partnership tools are helping Brown to look to a future of continuous energy savings and environmental responsibility. Johnson says reducing energy usage is the best way to reduce their carbon footprint. And achieving that twofold goal through one grand plan makes the return well worth the effort.
Xcel Energy Rebates Open Door for Historic Denver Hotel Efficiency Makeover
Building on a long history of using the latest infrastructure systems, the owners and operators of Denver’s first hotel, The Oxford, recently completed upgrades on the building that improve energy efficiency while decreasing average monthly utility costs by 47 percent.
In addition to the utility cost savings the systems generated, Sage Hospitality Resources - which owns and operates The Oxford Hotel - also benefited from a $34,000 rebate from Xcel Energy, a leading combination electric and natural gas company. The improvements are part of an extensive energy efficiency, conservation and sustainability program undertaken by Sage Hospitality Resources. Located in the historic LoDo district (lower downtown) in Denver, the luxury boutique hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
First opened in 1891 and recently renovated, the 80-room Oxford Hotel needed improvements to replace aging equipment and to maintain temperature and humidity. Stable environmental conditions are required to preserve the hotel’s extensive collection of 19th and 20th century paintings of the American West.
Interestingly, the venerable Oxford Hotel has always been on the forefront of new technologies. Even in its earliest days, the hotel maintained its own power plant with an advanced system of steam heating, electricity and gas lighting.
The infrastructure systems needed to be upgraded without compromising the hotel’s originality and charm while providing system redundancy and increasing energy efficiency. In order to help stimulate the state’s economy, ownership at The Oxford Hotel insisted on collaborating with a Colorado manufacturer – in this case, TRANE – to complete the improvements.
In recognition of the importance of these upgrades and of the owners’ commitment to efficient and sustainable energy usage, to operational efficiency and to environmental responsibility, The Oxford Hotel will receive the “Trane Energy Efficiency Leader in Lodging Award.”
Customized Upgrades Improve Bottom Line
After a thorough building assessment, Sage Hospitality Resources management selected energy conservation measures that will best meet their business objectives of improving energy efficiency and decreasing utility costs to improve the bottom line. Their objectives also included improving indoor air quality and maintaining consistent temperature and humidity. Improvements were started in February 2009 and completed in April 2009.
New systems included two highly efficient chillers as well as a building automation system to optimize operation of the overall heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Management used creativity and innovation to install the chiller systems in a basement not originally designed to accommodate such an advanced system: disassembling the entire system in advance and reassembling it onsite. Throughout the process, great care was taken to avoid guest inconvenience.
Two chilled water systems were included to ensure uninterrupted service, and each includes dual compressors for added flexibility and system redundancy. During high demand, the backup chiller and secondary compressors run as needed. To boost efficiency, a plate-and-frame heat exchanger was installed in the chilled water system to provide free cooling during winter months — without the need to operate the new electric chillers.
Starting From Scratch:
A Major Move Creates Opportunity for Efficiency at University of Colorado Denver’s Anschutz Medical Campus
In 1995, when the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center closed in Aurora, Colorado, officials from the Health Sciences Center, University of Colorado Hospital and the City of Aurora presented an innovative proposal to the Department of Defense: to reuse the decommissioned base to build — from the ground up — a world-class, academic health and research center, including state-of-the-art health care facilities.
They government agreed, and with the help of Xcel Energy, the university included energy efficiency into just about every building they’ve constructed on the 217 acre campus.
Efficiency often comes piecemeal. A company might decide to upgrade its heating and cooling equipment or install higher efficiency lighting. But a holistic approach can render better long-term savings.
Xcel Energy conducted energy audits to identify costs, payback terms, and energy savings. In one building project, it turned out that they were able to bundle several programs together and get a $300,000 rebate. From there, the university’s partnership with Xcel Energy grew until the campus had conducted more than a dozen energy saving measures.
Marked Improvement and Plans
The results of the team’s efficiency measures speak for themselves. The combined efforts will save over 11 million-kilowatt hours of electricity each year. They are projecting a minimum of 25% energy reduction per square foot. And if those numbers are not enough, they have achieved a total of $532,521 in Xcel Energy rebates, and expect another $350,000 after finishing two current projects.
In addition, all new buildings are now committed to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. They are also tracking their carbon emissions now and have plans to reduce their greenhouse gasses further to become carbon neutral.
Their practices, policies, and procedures are all linked to conservation. That includes teaching students how to be green through single stream recycling, education and training. With conservation, efficiency, and sustainability surrounding them, it is hard to imagine graduates, faculty, and staff will not get the message.
Xcel Energy is based in Minneapolis and serves 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers in eight Western and Midwestern states. To learn more about them and their energy saving programs, please visit http://www.xcelenergy.com/.
Sky High Energy Savings — Xcel Energy and Northwest Airlines Partnership Pays Big Dividends
A decade long partnership between Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy and Northwest Airlines (NWA) has benefitted both parties. To date, NWA has saved more than 18 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). That represents over 24 million pounds of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of removing 4,000 commuters from our roads. It also adds up to more than $1 million in lower annual energy costs. And in addition, NWA has earned more than $1 million in rebates for choosing energy efficient equipment.
In return, Xcel Energy, which serves 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers in eight Western and Midwestern states, helps a strong local business become even stronger, and it helps itself meet its goal of delivering a reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound energy supply for all of its customers.
The latest joint effort between the two companies focused on NWA’s 1.1 million square foot facility in Minneapolis. The building housed air compressors that were used to test jet engines, as well as operate a variety of other equipment. Over time, the needs of the facility changed, and much of the work done previously at this site has been moved elsewhere.
This left the NWA facility with the capability to produce more 1,900 horsepower of compressed air, which was simply more than was now needed. Xcel Energy co-funded a study to help NWA investigate lower cost options to the existing compressed-air-supply system.
The first phase of the study revealed numerous air leaks in the compressor system that when fixed, helped NWA to save over $3,000 a year in energy costs, and increased efficiency more than 30 percent. Phase two showed that there was an opportunity to save significant energy dollars by purchasing new, smaller compressors to supply the normal plant air demands. A larger, existing compressor could continue to handle the big, but sporadic needs of testing jet engines.
The cost of the new compressed air supply system was $180,000. Xcel Energy rebates totaled almost $63,000—or about a third of the total cost. The operating cost of the new compressed air supply systems is now approximately $68,700 per year, which represents an annual savings of more than $125,000. This savings led to a return on investment of less than two years, and helped convince NWA to ultimately sign off on the project.
For more information about Xcel Energy and its energy efficiency programs, please visit http://www.xcelenergy.com/