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Manufacturers in U.S. Energy Department’s Better Plants Program Save More Than $2 Billion in Energy Costs; Program Expands to Help America’s Water Systems

September 30, 2015 - 9:03am


WASHINGTON D.C.— Today, as the U.S. Department of Energy prepares to kick off October’s National Energy Action Month, the department announced that manufacturers in its Better Buildings, Better Plants Program (Better Plants) have racked up an estimated $2.4 billion in cumulative energy cost savings over the last five years. Across America, manufacturers spend more than $200 billion each year to power their plants. As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to double energy productivity, American manufacturers and water and wastewater treatment agencies made a voluntary commitment to improve energy intensity by about 25 percent over ten years, or an equally ambitious level for their sector, through the Better Plants Program. Today, the department also announced that nine partners have met their energy efficiency targets this year.

Over the last year, 21 new industrial partners joined the Better Plants program, including 12 water and wastewater treatment agencies — part of a strategic expansion to increase energy efficiency across the nation’s water infrastructure. Close to 160 industrial organizations representing more than 2,400 facilities are partnering with the Energy Department through Better Plants. Together, these partners consume about 2.2 quadrillion BTUs of energy, which is approximately 11.4 percent of the U.S. manufacturing sector’s total use, or about the same as the state of Tennessee’s annual energy consumption.

“When companies save energy, they also save money and reduce harmful carbon pollution,” said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “This is especially true in the manufacturing sector, where energy costs are often a significant contributor to total operating costs. Manufacturers participating in the Better Plants program, including our new partners in the water and wastewater treatment sector, are leading the way in showing how energy efficiency is a smart business strategy, as well as a smart conservation strategy that will help to protect our environment for future generations.”

Better Plants expanded this year to begin working with water and wastewater treatment agencies to improve their energy efficiency by 25 percent over ten years.  This sector faces high energy costs, as significant amounts of energy are required to pump, treat, and distribute water. Included among the 12 new water and wastewater treatment partners are two of the nation’s largest and most complex water systems — those servicing the cities of Los Angeles and New York.

Over the last five years, Better Plants partners have maintained an average annual energy intensity improvement rate of about 2.1 percent, well above projected business-as-usual rates for U.S. industry as a whole. This has resulted in cumulative energy savings of more than 450 trillion BTUs, saving an estimated $2.4 billion in cost and avoiding nearly 27 million metric tons of climate-changing carbon emissions, equivalent to a year’s worth of emissions from seven coal-fired power plants. 

The Energy Department is also recognizing the nine partners that met their energy savings goals through Better Plants this year. They join the 16 other U.S. manufacturers that met their goals in previous years. The most recent goal-achievers are:

  • 3M, a diversified manufacturer based in St. Paul, MN.
  • Bentley Mills, a California-based carpet manufacturer.
  • Harbec, a custom injection molder and component part manufacturer located in Upstate New York.
  • Ingersoll Rand, a maker of industrial equipment, based in Davidson, NC.
  • Johnson & Johnson, a leading health-care company, based in New Brunswick, NJ.
  • Roche Diagnostics, a health care diagnostic equipment manufacturer, based in Indianapolis, IN.
  • Shaw Industries Group, Inc., a manufacturer of carpet, hardwood and other flooring products, based in Dalton, GA.
  • Volvo Group North America, which makes trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine engines, and is based in Greensboro, NC.
  • Weyerhaeuser Wood Products, a forest products company based in Federal Way, WA.

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Program is part of President Obama’s broader Better Buildings Initiative, which drives American commercial and industrial buildings to become at least 20 percent more energy efficient over the next 10 years. The Initiative also includes the Better Buildings Challenge through which U.S. companies, universities, school districts, multifamily housing owners, and state and local governments have committed to reducing energy use across their building portfolios by 20 percent or more.

The accomplishments announced today are summarized in the Energy Department’s Fall 2015 Better Plants Progress Update, released today and available HERE.