Quick Wins on the Green Journey

The third and final part of my discussion with Brett Wills (author of Green Intentions: Creating a Green Value Stream to Compete and Win) focused on the areas of any organization where quick improvements could be accomplished. Brett has some important suggestions here:

"When starting out on the green journey, one does not have to dive in head first. There are many initiatives that can be undertaken to realize significant cost savings without tying up large amounts of resources. Not only will these initiatives realize cost savings, they will go a long way in gaining the buy-in needed to develop a greener culture.

Here are a few quick wins to get started with:

1. Air Compressors -- Identifying and repairing leaks in air compressor lines can result in hundreds even thousands of dollars in annual energy savings. In addition, many times the PSI level is far too high for what is actually needed. By simply lowering the PSI level a few notches, one will see immediate savings.

2. Peak Shaving -- A close examination of one’s electric bill will reveal a hidden peak demand charge. This charge is based on the one-time largest draw of energy over a 15-minute window. For example, turning on all the lights, motors, equipment, computers and so on at the same time will draw a large amount of energy for a short period of time. With a peak demand charge anywhere from $5+ per kW, one can save a great deal of money by simply staggering start ups. Often times the electricity provider will help with this project at no cost.

3. Computers -- Although the energy consumption of a single computer is relatively low, adding up the energy consumption from all computers represents a significant cost. Many times computers are left on overnight so that updates and maintenance tasks can be performed. By simply scheduling these activities to occur on a specific night, computers can be shut off at the end of each day to realize cost savings.

4. Water Coolers -- It is cheaper to use water coolers that treat tap water than to use water coolers that are fed from a bottle.

5. Hot-Water Tanks and Pipes -- Uninsulated hot-water pipes and tanks result in large amounts of heat loss requiring greater amounts of energy to keep water at desired temperatures. By insulating these tanks and pipes, heat loss is minimized resulting in lower energy consumption and ultimately, cost savings.

6. Side Skirts -- For transport and logistics companies or those with fleets of trucks, there is a simple way to dramatically increase fuel consumption, with very little investment. Side skirts for tractor trailers greatly reduce drag and can increase fuel savings by as much as 15%.

These are just a few of the many quick wins that can be had by putting on the green lens. Harvesting this low hanging fruit is an effective way to start realizing cost savings and build momentum for a more comprehensive green transformation. The key is to have a process or a 'road map' to follow."