Since its inception in 1992 for a computer, the US Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star certification label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, 1.6 million homes, and 24,000 commercial buildings and industrial plants. But that last category doesn't earn the mark often: Only 139 manufacturing plants have achieved Energy Star certification.
This week 70 Energy Star plants from that elite club were recognized for their achievement of Energy Star status.
"Together, these manufacturing plants saved a record amount of energy, cut their energy bills by $725 million, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 8 million metric tons — equivalent to the annual total energy use of more than 650,000 households," said the EPA in a release.
“Energy Star certified manufacturing plants are leading their industries by advancing energy efficiency and making cost-saving improvements while combating climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Energy Star certified plants are independently verified on an annual basis to have reached the top 25 percent of energy performance for their industries nationwide. Among these are plants from the auto assembly, cement manufacturing, corn refining, food processing, glass manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and petroleum refining industries. Seven are certified for the first time:
Let's Crunch the Data
A download of the data from the EPA's website reveals the following:
Among the 139 plants, cement is by far the leading category of product, accounting for 50 of the operations. And CEMEX USA is by far the leading earner of Energy Star certifications, at 11 separate facilities. The company in February announced that its ready-mix plants in Texas and New Mexico had qualified for special Energy Star honors by reducing their energy intensity by 10 percent within five years or less.
Next come ConAgra with 10; Toyota with eight; container glass firm Ardagh Group, Kellogg Co. and Switzerland's Holcim with seven apiece, Marathon Petroleum with six; and Lehigh Cement with four.
Sorted by state, California has 11; Washington has nine; Texas has eight; and Ohio, Indiana and Missouri have seven each.
The facilities with the most repeat certifications (back to 2006) include Marathon's refineries in Garyville, La., and Canton, Ohio; Nissan's plants in Canton, Miss., and Smyrna, Tenn.; and Honda's two plants in East Liberty and Marysville, Ohio;
EPA provides industry-specific Energy Star plant benchmarking tools to help industry measure energy performance. These are available or under development for more than 20 manufacturing sectors. Energy Star benchmarks enable companies to compare a plant’s energy performance against those of its industry and empower manufacturers to set informed improvement goals.
Same Day, Other Side of the Coin
What happens when industrial plants reach the end of their useful lives is another part of EPA's scope. Could energy companies be among those successfully reusing brownfields in the future? On the same day the Energy Star news was released, EPA announced the selection of 20 communities in 16 states receiving approximately $4 million in Brownfields Area-Wide Planning (AWP) grants for cleanup and reuse of brownfields sites.
Sometimes the brownfields themselves are energy vestiges. The agency made the announcement at a press conference in Huntington, W.Va., where the city plans to use its $200,000 AWP grant to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing & Polymer Commercialization Center on vacant and polluted brownfields along the Ohio River, as well as build a new baseball stadium for Marshall University. According to a release from the city, "Huntington seeks to spark reuse of more than 78 acres of underutilized, former manufacturing facilities located along the Ohio River between Marshall University’s campus and the Highlawn neighborhood. In addition to receiving the $200,000 planning grant, the Huntington Municipal Development Authority has applied for a $400,000 EPA grant to address any contamination issues at the sites."
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said the planning grant and development of the advanced polymer center show how formerly coal-reliant communities can diversify and build 21st century, advanced manufacturing economies.
“The properties we seek to redevelop between Marshall and Highlawn are a silent reminder of how international policies have shifted the world economy and left our region with fewer jobs and limited opportunities,” Williams said. “The EPA’s planning grant places opportunity in the grasp of our city, state and region to transform ourselves to compete in the worldwide marketplace.”
Considered reuses of brownfield sites include advanced manufacturing businesses, recreation hubs, mixed-income housing, community centers that serve youth and unskilled workers, leveraging existing infrastructure to support a walkable, transit-oriented community and capitalizing on Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts. Several of the selected communities — Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin; Portland, Maine; Rochester, New York; and Pittsburg, Kansas — participate in the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership.
This is the third round of grants awarded under the Brownfields AWP program. The 2010 pilot program, where approximately $4 million was awarded to fund AWP plan development in 23 communities, has leveraged approximately $418 million in infrastructure and project development investments.
Here is a list of the 2015 Area-Wide Planning grants and the planning processes they support:
CALIFORNIA: City of Fresno — Interest in economic redevelopment/attracting new businesses with its location near highways; a focus on community centers serving youth/unskilled workers; and building on city bicycle and other pedestrian master plans.
IOWA: City of Dubuque — South Port area as a "new downtown neighborhood", w/ expanded Mississippi Riverwalk in transit-oriented environment. Estimate 300 new jobs and $100-million increase in tax revenue.
KANSAS: City of Pittsburg — Business and/or residential housing.
MAINE: Greater Portland Council of Governments, Maine — Options include affordable housing, an expansion of an existing urban farm, and/or the construction of a new building with retail and commercial space.
MASSACHUSETTS: City of Lawrence — Recreation/open space, trail connectivity and encouraging economic development. City of New Bedford — Recreational space and attracting economic redevelopment — the city anticipates linking into commuter rail scheduled to be built.
MINNESOTA: City of Duluth — Attract new industrial-based businesses; turn Raleigh St. into a Complete Street; public access to river and recreation; and greenspace.
MISSISSIPPI: Mississippi Conference of Black Mayors — Use existing infrastructure (buildings, sewers, road, electrical grids) to build a vibrant downtown/college town. Increase use of local parks, reduce environmental justic issues.
NEW JERSEY: Camden Redevelopment Agency — 60 mixed-income rental housing units.
NEW YORK: City of Rochester — Housing, institutional or commercial reuse. South Bronx Overall EDC — Increased housing options, attract industrial businesses, create walkable, multi-modal transit oriented community, and new greenspace.
NORTH CAROLINA: City of Hickory — the reuse plan includes residential and commercial projects to connect the industrial area and the neighborhoods to the north.
OREGON: City of St. Helens — Public riverfront access, environmental restoration, and economic development.
PENNSYLVANIA: Temple University — Adaptive reuse of Orinka Mills site attract new businesses/investment, public greenspace and urban garden; possible housing options and link to subway stops.
TEXAS: City of Whitewright — Expand business district for light industrial and commercial use.
WASHINGTON: City of Spokane — Support existing Hillyard neighborhoods to create a "live-and-work community." Take advantage of an under-construction freeway and existing rail lines to become a multi-modal freight hub and possibly some residential areas.
WEST VIRGINIA: City of Huntington — Anchor is Marshall U. baseball field; hub of sports centers, recreation and area for advanced manufacturing - 3D printing/engineering.
WISCONSIN: Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee — Estimate creating approximately 1,700 jobs in project area by focusing redevelopment on manufacturing uses related to water technologies and others; creating more public access points; preserving a bike trail and creating additional habitat. City of Racine, Wis. — River access/trails, greenspace, capitalize on TIF district to attract new investment/redevelopment.
WYOMING: City of Cheyenne — Expanding greenspace, increasing housing options and improving pedestrian amenities.