A Risk-Based Approach to Energy Conservation

Why can’t Quality by Design ideas serve as the foundation of corporate greening?

By Paul Thomas, Senior Editor

Want some ideas to cut your site’s energy usage? The possibilities are many (see box below). But lasting energy responsibility requires more than checking off items on a list. It requires a new way of thinking and a risk-based approach, say Dave Goswami and Mark Butler of Integrated Project Services (IPS; Lafayette Hill, Penn.).

Goswami, President and COO of IPS, and Butler, VP of Engineering, presented at Interphex 2009 on “A Risk-Based Approach to Energy Savings in Pharmaceutical Facilities.” The two premised their talk by saying that energy conversation could be looked at in the spirit of Quality by Design and that risk- and science-based methodologies should be implemented to confront energy challenges and reduce corporate carbon footprints. “There is a shift in the industry towards a risk-based and science-based approach,” said Goswami, “so it’s appropriate to talk about energy conservation in the same terms.”

Sustainable Program Development

Before laying out their risk-based methodology, Goswami and Butler offered several best practices that can be applied to energy reduction:

  1. Review your corporate/site energy management programs. Obtain management support, assemble corporate and site energy teams, develop energy procurement strategies, establish performance goals, etc.
  2. Benchmark building energy. Find out what leading manufacturers are doing and where you stand.
  3. Practice carbon reporting. Identify individual site and corporate carbon footprints. Global emissions regulations continue to tighten, noted Butler, and the pharma sector could find itself exposed to carbon constraints on operations if it does not approach energy reduction proactively. Forward-looking companies are already voluntarily reporting their carbon footprint.
  4. Evaluate your process technology. Are there opportunities for continuous improvement? Have your R&D teams look at green chemistry and alternative ways of developing products. Use life-cycle thinking in all process engineering activities.
  5. Consider improved building technology. Buildings and the built environment represent a majority of energy consumption, and many facilities are old and outmoded. Use LEED certification scorecards as guidance, and look to new building design codifications being developed by ASHRAE.

A Risk-Based Approach

These best practices are sensible and worthwhile to implement, but what would a true risk-based approach to energy conservation look like? It would involve numerical analysis that “includes risk factor as an integral part to assess the viability of energy conservation opportunities (ECO’s),” Goswami said. For all ECO’s it is important to use risk-based quantitative analysis first; those ECO’s which pass through this filter can then undergo a detailed ROI analysis.

The IPS methodology goes like this (which Goswami presented in a flow chart format):

Identify ECO’s. →

Establish major categories affecting the viability of ECO’s (eg, energy saving potential, installation cost, environmental effect, constructability and risk to product, facility, reliability, etc.). →

Determine the importance or weight factor of each category. →

Assign scores for each ECO under each category. →

Calculate weighted scores for each category. →

Calculate total scores cumulative for each ECO. →

Make a decision (accept/reject) on each ECO. →

Conduct an ROI analysis. →

Establish an implementation plan.

Ideas for Reducing Facility Energy Usage

  • Use cogeneration/combined heat and power
  • Use peak shaving systems
  • Consider renewable energy options
  • Improve central utilities such as chilled water, steam and compressed air
  • Make your HVAC more efficient
  • Optimize boiler operation
  • Reduce excess air
  • Optimize chiller operation
  • Optimize tower operation
  • Optimize compressor operation
  • Use variable speed drives
  • Institute heat recovery systems
  • Reuse air condensate
  • Tune-up, trend and optimize building automation systems (BAS)
  • Retro-commissioning
  • Use microenvironments such as isolators to reduce consumption
  • Reuse WFI dumps
  • Reclaim backwash from purified water systems.
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