Energy Efficiency: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Sustainability not only feels good, it pays off, as a growing number of drug companies are learning.
By Bill Swichtenberg, Senior Editor
Baxter also holds a company-wide Global Energy Conference every two years with a Maintenance Conference in the years in between. “Half of these conferences are focused on training, with the other half exploring best practices at all the different plants,” says Meissen.
Energy savings aren’t restricted to just processes or buildings. Pharma company employees are helping by chipping in at work and even at home when possible. At Merck, as part of the Energy Star program “Change a Light,” employees responded in force. “The program asks 500 employees to each change five lights at their house,” says Holly Savoia, manager of global energy at Merck. “Our employees reached 131% of that goal.”
In addition, Merck has instituted “save a lot Wednesday” once every other month. It is a day when employees are extra-conscious of energy demands. “You will see blinds pulled, no lights on in many offices and fume hoods closed,” says Savoia. “Every little bit counts, and this carries over to their homes.”
Company cars driven by salespeople is another area being explored to help with energy and emission goals at Roche. The voluntary program started when the company bought 10 Toyota Prius hybrid cars to see if they would be reliable in extreme weather such as the cold of Michigan and the heat of Texas. The program now includes hybrid Ford Escape SUVs. Currently, Roche’s fleet contains 240 hybrids out of 1,579 total cars.
“In the long term, we are looking at fuel-cell vehicles,” says Kace. “In Europe, they are running clean diesel. We are trying to convince Detroit that these types of cars are the future and will benefit the environment.”
Building a Successful Energy Program
Energy programs are not created overnight. It takes dedication, commitment and resources. In addition, working capital as well as a desire to innovate and attempt something untried are necessary requirements. Other best practices for a corporate energy program include:
- Commitment from management –
“When looking at programs from the site level,” says John Parodi, the former senior manager of engineering at Roche’s Nutley, N.J. plant and current director of energy, “without corporate management buy-in, you are going nowhere.”
- Clear and achievable goals –
Merck has adopted a goal of cutting energy usage 25 percent by 2008, as compared to 2004 levels. “Using metrics and measures help monitor performance and achieve these goals,” says Robert Colucci, director of global energy and asset management at Merck & Co., Inc. “These goals must be engrained from the procurement process all the way to plant automation.”
- Communication –
According to Colucci, Merck is relentless communicating ideas and programs throughout the company. Energy practices and ideas run in Merck’s daily newspaper as well as a monthly GET (Global Energy Team) Gazette. In addition, a separate energy website conveys practices to employees.
- Awareness –
“In order to improve, you have to know how your site works,” says Parodi.
- A designated “champion” –
“This can be a maintenance person at the plant level, but someone just needs to be responsible,” says Larry Funke, director of energy engineering at Baxter International Inc. “You need someone to make the reports and attend meetings and make sure things are being looked after.”
- SWIPE-ing (or Stealing With Integrity and Pride from Everywhere) –
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. “Don’t be afraid of stealing successful ideas from other people,” says Roche’s Parodi.