Surveying the Greenscape
Mining the green manufacturing gold mine
And maybe a little moonlighting
When food manufacturer White- Wave Plant Engineer Toby Duveneck sought ways to cut
costs in the company’s Virginia plant,
he looked at green initiatives. “That
particular year , our volume was
not going to be as strong as we had
projected it to be. We’re a cost center,
so we worry about our budget, what our
cost per gallon is.”
Duveneck knew from experience that
the payback on lighting retrofits can be
huge and immediate. To date the com-
pany has installed nearly 650 high-bay
LED lighting fixtures in the warehouse
and plant—almost all of the plant light-
ing. The lighting retrofit saves the man-
ufacturer $15,000 a month in electric-
That’s some gilded green.
Ecosavvy manufacturers have come
to realize that most sustainability initiatives save money. Saving energy saves
money. Managing waste well saves
money. Conserving water saves money.
Moonlighting as Power
Perhaps even more intriguing to me is
how some manufacturers blacken their
bottom lines not only by saving money,
but by creating revenue streams from
“Bioenergy fuels green paper mills:
Cogeneration creates revenue source,
enhances cost-effectiveness” (p. 38)
delves into how paper manufacturers
actually supplement their core business income from the energy they
generate in their mills. Modern biofuel
technology incorporates cogeneration
capabilities, also called combined heat
and power (CHP), to produce both electricity and heat or steam from one fuel
source. Cogeneration is considered especially efficient because it maximizes
the energy captured and minimizes the
energy released into the environment
as hot air or hot water and wasted.
has become a cottage
It’s intuitive. They use their own
waste wood sources as boiler feedstock, as well as residual wood, such
as treetops, limbs, and bark, in keeping
with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
forest sustainability standards.
But the mills go a step further. Not
only do they use the heat and electricity their cogenerational boilers make
in their own operations, they actually
sell the energy directly to utilities—
especially to those hungry to fulfill their
renewable-energy standards (RES).
Sometimes they sell the power they
generate on the open market rather
than use it themselves.
Generating energy has become a
cottage industry, of sorts.
The industry has been moonlighting
like this very well for years, but recently
utility incentives have made the practice even more profitable.
Mining Copper, Gold, Lead—in
Brian Brundage, CEO of Intercon Solutions, recognizes the potential for min-
ing electronics. There’s gold in them
thar hills—and copper, glass, iron, aluminum, and plastics, as well as lead,
mercury, and other toxic chemicals that
have to be removed and disposed of
properly (see “Optimal handling of end-of-life electronics means recycling,”
E-waste is the fastest-growing element of the U.S. garbage stream.
According to a report in Time magazine, Americans throw out more than
350,000 cell phones and 130,000
computers every day. Each computer
contains an average of 4 to 8 pounds
of lead, according to the Silicon Valley
Brundage has made a good business
of ecoresponsibly extracting the materials in a careful and safe demanufacturing process so that the toxic chemicals
are not released into the environment.
Intercon Solutions has eight locations in North America, and indications
are that the company will continue to
grow as fast as the stockpile of discarded electronics.
For some manufacturers, green is
Kate Bachman, Editor
Be sure to receive news and updates
via Twitter from Editor Kate Bachman