The call for manufacturers to reduce their "carbon footprint" could mean dramatic changes within manufacturing facilities. VFA Inc., a provider of facilities capital planning and asset management, offers electricity-savings measures that could help manufacturers get a head start on energy initiatives and reduce costs. Lisa Raffin, VFA's vice president of professional services, suggests manufacturers:
- Check the electrical supply and distribution system for dirty transformers, dirty dielectric fluid, loose connections and cracked insulation.
- Replace or retrofit existing lighting fixtures to a fixture that has energy-efficient electronic ballasts and energy-efficient lamps, which can yield a savings within one to two years.
- Install dimming lighting systems that allow for varying light output over a wide range to provide the desired light level. These systems are more expensive than switching systems, but achieve the greatest savings because they don't have the abrupt changes in light level characteristics in switching systems.
- Implement occupancy sensors that turn lights on when a figure is detected. This is ideal for spaces such as restrooms, conference rooms and offices where occupancy often is sporadic.
- Use energy-efficient motors, characterized by "active" electric materials, such as steel laminations and copper. The cost is 15% to 30% higher than standard motors, but these motors have longer run hours.
- Utilize high-efficiency transformers.
- Install variable speed drives for motor-driven equipment, such as fans and pumps.