Since energy efficiency is a big part of what this industry pursues on behalf of society at large, I always like to see examples of what companies and firms are doing internally to conserve resources. This month, A.O. Smith celebrated progress on that front at its plant in McBee, SC.
Let’s put the bottom line at the top: According to the commercial water heater manufacturer, this plant “saved more than 2 million gal of water in 2012, reduced electricity consumption by more than 10%, and cut natural gas consumption by more than 5%.” And no, they didn’t do it by reducing operations; in fact, they report production went up 7% over the same timeframe.
The consistent attention to efficiency opportunities within usual upgrades covered a lot of processes and systems, as you might expect. Within our HVAC universe, upgrading the plant’s cooling tower was a significant step, affecting handling of water for both process and air conditioning purposes. This involved a retrofit to a two-cell system using upgraded drives, yielding the expected flexibility in controlling how much water moves through the system at any given point.
We also emphasize lighting around here from time to time, and the McBee plant took the opportunity to replace the original(!) 30-yr-old fixtures with lamps that were not only more efficient but brighter to boot. And as you’d expect, they also produce less heat, to produce some benefits both in terms of occupant comfort and heat loads. A.O. Smith found further efficiency gains through smart equipment replacement choices in the process area, and by fine-tuning the plant’s curing furnaces’ operation for drying parts.
So as you can see, the benefits do add up, even if there’s no single dominant aspect of work. I’d love to hear about what your engineering firms or manufacturer facilities have done, too, on the path to practicing what we preach. Every once in a while, we even manage to get a feature article out of such a story. Send me a note or press release about your own successes and challenges anytime at email@example.com.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Yes, we’ve got a way to go before we get to any overpriced dinner packages and “Auld Lang Syne,” but we are already finishing up our editorial calendar for 2014. So this is a good month to remind you that our ideal contributor is typically someone pretty much just like you.
Consulting engineers and facility engineers telling their project stories so others can learn a little something for their own work — that’s the crux of what we do here, no magic involved. Whether it’s a hard but victorious upgrade, the process leading to a satisfying new design, or a few interesting anecdotes of problems you’ve found in the field, you are the people who make the magazine worth reading every month. So don’t be shy; if you’ve been part of some good work lately, we want to know about it.