Volvo Group North America announced it has met its energy efficiency goals in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Better Buildings, Better Plants Challenge.
As part of the initiative launched in 2011, companies can set their own goals and report progress to the DOE, although the goal of the challenge is to encourage as many companies as possible to increase their buildings’ energy efficiency by 20% over 10 years. Close to 200 partner companies saved $4.2 billion and 830 trillion BTUs of energy in the past seven years.
Volvo noted it set its first goal above the recommendation. A 25% decrease in energy usage at U.S. locations was met five years early. This prompted the company to double efforts with a new goal of a 25% additional reduction by 2024. In the first three years, it is more than halfway there—usage has fallen 14.4% from 2014 levels, according to Volvo.
Volvo Group North America director of health, safety and environment Rick Robinson said resources from the DOE have been helpful in making necessary changes.
“The DOE has been an excellent partner in helping us meet and exceed our goals,” Robinson said. “The resources and expertise they’ve made available have helped us save money and take a leading role in preserving our environment.”
“As we shift from technical changes – which tend to have a large one-time impact – to operational and behavioral changes that are more people-driven, we see that commitment reflected in our employees,” Robinson added. “These creative and committed employees are really driving our progress toward our new goal.”
The company made modifications in structure or technology, such as LED lights and updated HVAC systems, were a given, but bigger, brighter ideas formed from energy “treasure hunts.”
In times of idle or partially idle activity, like Sundays, groups of employees monitored their station to detect areas of wasted energy. Two particular hunts, at the Dublin, VA, and Macungie, PA, factories discovered about $700,000 in low-to-no-cost areas of waste that could be transformed into savings. Similarly, one hunt in South Plainfield, NJ, identified $12,000, or 34% of the total utility cost that could be saved by cutting wasted energy.