Merck Looks for the Greenest Kilowatt

At March’s Interphex 2011 in New York, Chris Broome, senior engineer on Merck’s global energy team, spoke about his company's global efforts to minimize energy usage, built upon participation in Energy Star programs.

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At March’s Interphex 2011 in New York, Chris Broome, senior engineer on Merck’s global energy team, spoke about his company's global efforts to minimize energy usage, built upon participation in Energy Star programs. Merck, Broome noted, uses Energy Star not just to baseline and benchmark its efforts, but also as a means of recognizing work done at individual sites, and making these efforts more visible to management and the public.

Merck’s strategic focus is based on energy efficiency. "You really want to focus on reducing what you’re using before you look at other methods of energy," said Broome. "The cheapest and greenest kilowatt hour is the one you don’t use."

Broome then summarized some of his companies current initiatives, both low-cost, no-cost, and those requiring capital investments:

HVAC: The company’s main energy focus right now is on HVAC-reducing the load, retrocommissioning HVAC systems, establishing temperature setbacks, and turning off HVAC at night in certain areas.

Steam systems: "Make sure work orders are prioritized," Broome advised. Also, he noted how Merck has partnered with insulation contractors and has full-time insulators at Whitehouse Station and other sites whose job involves insulating whatever piping and other equipment that needs more of it.

Lighting: Adjust light levels to match work requirements, Broome said, and turn them off when they're not used. Merck is transitioning from T12 to T8 or T5 lights, and using LED whenever possible. (Exit signs, for example, run 24 hours a day and therefore should be LED, he said.)

Compressed air: "Use it only when you need it," he said. Merck’s initiatives in this area include air leak detection, compressor sequencing, and improving dryer technology.

Motors: Merck is striving to make all motors higher efficiency. "It's not cost-effective to replace existing motors, so as they burn out, that’s when you want to target them," he said.

A few other ideas Broome discussed:

Outsourcing: Merck uses an outside firm to manage energy bills and compile the data so that it's visible.

Funding: The company has energy funds, "where we put $10 million dollars per year for five years to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goal . . . It is a true investment in our sites."

Treasure hunts: Merck has partnered with GE to have three-day, team activities to identify potential energy-saving improvement projects. The company has done two such hunts in Puerto Rico, and is planning a third for Rahway, New Jersey.
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