Action Guide

Manage Energy in Industrial Facilities

Environmental Defense Fund

Conducting an energy audit and implementing energy saving strategies will help you reduce operating costs and realize your emissions targets. Since each facility is unique, and the most effective energy management strategy will depend on that facility's operations and environment.

Industrial facilities are responsible for a significant amount of global greenhouse gas emissions. As concerns about climate change and its impact on the environment and society continue to grow, reducing emissions and managing energy consumption in industrial facilities has become a top priority. Industrial facilities can also contribute to air and water pollution, which can have negative health impacts on nearby residents, particularly low-income and marginalized communities. Thus, it is important to consider the impact that these facilities have on nearby communities.

Below are some tools and approaches that can assist in better energy management at industrial facilities. However, since industrial sites are diverse, there is no one solution or method for effectively managing energy across your facilities.

Conducting an Energy Audit

Before any energy management strategies can be implemented, it’s important to understand where energy is being used and where it’s being wasted. An energy audit can help identify areas for improvement and prioritize energy-saving measures. This analysis can include an assessment of your facility’s energy bills, equipment usage, and building systems such as HVAC, lighting, and insulation. Once the audit is complete, a report can highlight the areas where energy consumption can be reduced and suggest areas for improvement.

Energy Saving Strategies

After conducting an energy audit, you can consider a number of energy-saving strategies based on the audit’s results. While the audit will provide significantly more detail, some interventions to consider for your industrial sites include:

  1. Upgrading Equipment: Replacing outdated equipment with newer, more efficient models can significantly reduce energy usage in industrial facilities. This can include upgrading lighting systems, HVAC systems, and other equipment such as motors and compressors.
  2. Building System Optimization: Optimizing building systems can also lead to significant energy savings. One strategy is to perform regular maintenance on HVAC systems to ensure they are running at peak efficiency. This can include replacing filters, cleaning coils, and adjusting airflow. Another strategy is to optimize the building’s insulation to reduce energy loss.
  3. Implementing Automation: Automation can help reduce energy consumption by ensuring that equipment is only running when it’s needed. For example, automated lighting systems can turn off lights in unused areas of the facility.
  4. Employee Engagement: Employee engagement, such as workplace sustainability programs, can be a powerful tool for reducing energy usage in industrial facilities. By encouraging employees to be more mindful of their energy usage and empowering them to identify areas for improvement, you can create a culture of efficiency.
  5. Investment in Renewable Energy Resources: By investing in renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, industrial facilities can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and reduce their carbon footprint. By installing on-site solar you can generate clean, renewable energy to power operations and reduce load on the local energy grid. Your facilities may also be eligible for government incentives, such as tax credits or rebates, for installing renewable energy infrastructure. Renewable energy sources can also benefit the communities living nearby by reducing air pollution.
  6. Building Energy Storage: Energy storage is a method of storing excess energy generated by renewable energy sources and using it when needed. By storing energy, you can reduce your reliance on the grid. Battery storage systems can be used to store excess energy generated by solar panels or wind turbines and discharge that energy when needed, such as during peak energy demand or when there is a grid outage.
  7. Energy Management Systems: By installing energy monitoring and control systems, you can help your industrial facilities manage their energy usage. These systems monitor energy usage in real-time and provide insights into where energy is being used. By identifying areas of wastage, you can take corrective actions to reduce energy consumption. In addition to implementing energy saving strategies, you should develop a monitoring and reporting process to track energy consumption at your industrial facilities. This will allow you to determine the effects of strategies you implement, help you understand and communicate these effects to stakeholders, and guide your future work.

Climate Justice Considerations

When it comes to managing energy and reducing emissions in industrial facilities, it’s important to consider the impact that these facilities have on nearby communities. Industrial facilities can contribute to air and water pollution, which can have negative health impacts on nearby residents, particularly low-income and marginalized communities.

To address these concerns, you can take steps to mitigate impact on nearby communities. This can include:

  1. Engaging with the Community: By engaging with nearby residents and listening to their concerns, you can gain a better understanding of the impact nearby facilities are having and work to address residents’ concerns.
  2. Implementing Pollution Control Measures: Installing pollution control measures, such as air filters or wastewater treatment systems, can help reduce the impact of emissions on nearby communities.
  3. Supporting Community Initiatives: You can also support community initiatives, such as planting trees or building green spaces, to help mitigate the impact of emissions on nearby communities.