A Look at the New Energy Star Focus on Energy Efficiency in Glass Manufacturing
December 28, 2009

Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new Energy Star rating for flat and container glass manufacturers (CLICK HERE for related article). According to an EPA news release, the new Energy Performance Indicators (EPIs) for these glass manufacturing plants are the first of their kind for these industries.

The agency stated that the U.S. glass industry spends more than $2 billion annually on energy. The rating is not exclusive to glass; an EPI also was created for the food-processing sector, which is said to spend nearly $7 billion per year. Improving the energy efficiencies of these two industries by 10 percent, EPA says, would save nearly $900 million in energy costs and more than 150 trillion Btu, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from the electricity use of more than 1 million homes for a year.

The new Energy Star EPI for glass, developed in partnership with the industry, is intended to help companies objectively assess energy performance, set comp etitive goals for improvement and, over time, shift the energy performance of the entire industry.

Energy Star has been working for some time with the glass industry via a “Glass Manufacturing Focus,” what EPA calls a partnership between its Energy Star program and glass manufacturing companies to improve energy efficiency.

“Energy Star has a number of industry-specific focus groups. The purpose is to share ideas and, ultimately, to help create this EPI energy model, which can be used to look at your relative energy performance and, if you’re in the upper 25 percent of factories in your category such as a float glass plant, you can qualify for Energy Star status. It’s an industrial Energy Star rating. A number of companies have done that in other industries,” says Jeff Yigdall, director of engineering and international business of PPG - Glass Business & Discovery Center in Cheswick, Pa. Yigdall, who has been involved with the EPA’s focus group for about two years now, says much of the discussions within the group have been on energy-saving ideas.

“We’ve combined a number of focus groups together so we’ve gotten a cross-industry discussion on energy savings and ideas. Many of which are not process-specific or proprietary in nature but are more general industry systems such as lighting, compressed air, water, steam and so on. These kinds of things are common to many industries so what one industry applies, another industry can also use and there’s no real competitive implications because we’re all helping ourselves and each other,” says Yigdall.

Plants awarded the Energy Star must score within the top 25-percent of energy efficiency within their industry. Plants achieving a rating of 75 or higher using the Energy Star EPI specific to their plant type are eligible to apply for the Energy Star rating. The rating is awarded for a specific year, so a plant that has earned the Energy Star becomes eligible to reapply one year after the date of the last energy data included in the SEP submitted as part of the previous year's application.

According to information from the EPA website, to be eligible for Energy Star recognition, more than 50 percent of the production of the benchmarked plant must be comprised of the appropriate products (in this case, glass). If fabrication is performed at the plant, all glass subject to fabrication activities should have been produced in that plant. 

To use the EPI, the plant must submit annual energy purchases or transfers for the current year for each energy source and fuel type, and the total amount of glass sand in short tons used for production in the plant. Plants must account for the energy used to produce compressed air, steam and chilled water.

“EPIs are based on available, and verifiable, statistics for usage of raw materials, such as sand. In float glass [production], the sand is generally about 72 percent of the total glass so the sand is a good alias for the glass that you’re producing,” Yigdall explains.

That data is combined with the usage information for Btus of natural gas used and kilowatt hours of electricity, which together defines the plant’s energy footprint and relative energy performance. While the specific results will not be published, companies achieving that rating will be recognized by the EPA.

At present there are no Energy Star-certified glass manufacturing plants, but that could soon change.
“Energy Star puts out a list of criteria [for partners], the main thrust of which is to have an energy management program. The outline of the components of that energy management program includes, obviously, measurement of energy and putting together plans for meeting energy goals. It’s the typical sequence of having goals, setting milestones, getting measurements, creating action plans, reviewing the action plans and renew,” says Yigdall.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the ENERGY STAR’s focus on energy efficiency in glass manufacturing.

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