Earth Day, Sustainability, Going Green and an EAM

Jul 7, 2010

Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith

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No sooner than I finished putting away my notes for writing blogs for St Patty’s Day, April Fools and Earth Hour than Earth Day pops up. I knew it was coming not because it was on my calendar but because the web was already being inundated with articles describing suggestions on the many ways individuals or companies can participate. There is a nice list posted on covering many to do list items. Not wanting to write another idealist, it occurred to me that there might be some confusion as to all the buzz terms being thrown around. So in order to make sure we are all on the same page, I have described the 5 major terms, indicated how facilities, plant and maintenance managers can help and finished with how an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system can help provide a positive impact.

The Fab 5

Earth Western Hemisphere

The terms are in no particular order of importance but since today is Earth Day it is listed first.

  1. Description: Earth Day is designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. Founded in early 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a longtime conservationist, Earth day inspired millions to begin taking notice of the world round them and to become more environmentally responsible. Earth Day is now celebrated in over 175 countries and provided key popular support for the establishment of The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1970), The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
  2. What organizations can do help: Companies can participate by either reinforcing or creating recycling programs, examining their carbon footprint by reviewing energy consumption, addressing pollution problems (indoor and outdoor), encouraging carpooling and work at home programs.
  3. How an EAM can help: Utilizing an EAM will enhance the ability of environmentally facilities managers track asset inventory for proper disposal, schedule inspections of energy consuming equipment or pollution control monitors to make sure they are working efficiently. More importantly, when integrated with handheld mobile technology, paperflow can be nearly eliminated saving countless trees.
  4. Earth Hour
    • Description: Earth Hour was started in Australia in 2007 when residents of Sydney agreed to turn off the all the city lights for one hour in statement against global climate changes. The concept was to reduce the cities energy consumption, lowering the carbon footprint (reducing greenhouse gasses) and thus lowering the cities impact on global warming. Earth hour has spread to over 100 countries with thousands of cities taking part.
    • What organizations can do help: The object of Earth Hour is lower the carbon footprint that all activity inherently produces. The biggest opportunity here is for building managers. Government, municipal, schools, and business can turn off all their lights saving wasted energy as well lowering their electric bill. Even 24 hour operations can turn the power down on unused portions of the facilities. Perhaps a greater longer term solution would be for facilities such as hospitals, plants and government buildings to install occupancy sensors to automatically control the lights to areas.
    • How an CMMS can help: Energy saving devices can be installed in buildings for year round savings. Using the asset tracking functionality of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), building managers will always now where each piece of equipment is, when it was last checked, changed and condition. All lighting equipment can be scheduled for inspection or maintenance. Asset maintenance management is the true strength of a CMMS and is applicable to all types of businesses and industries.
  5. Green Buildings
    • Description: Going green refers to the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient. The green theme is integrated into the building’s entire lifecycle from design through construction, operation, maintenance, and destruction. Green themes can be are not just for new building as older buildings can be renovated or retrofitted. Objectives of green buildings include:
      • Greater water, energy and waste efficiencies.
      • Enhances indoor air quality, fewer employee sick days and ergonomic adjustments to improve productivity
      • Reducing waste, pollution and addressing assets that add to environmental degradation
    • What organizations can do help: Most building managers are well aware that that HVAC systems alone account for 40-60 percent of the building energy usage. Improperly maintained equipment will operate less efficiently increasing the energy costs to operate them. Facility, plant and all maintenance managers can install regularly scheduled maintenance programs to perform tasks ranging from filter changes to lubrication to corrosion removal. There was a good article recently called Energy management and the CMMS on that describes some methods of energy monitoring.
    • How an EAM/CMMS can help: EAM/CMMS systems are designed to maximize the efficiency of work flow by organizing and scheduling needed inspections, preventive maintenance as well as work orders. Just as importantly, when set up properly, they collect a wealth of historical maintenance history that can be used to identify problem areas or potential issues.
  6. Energy Consumption
    • Description: Lowering energy consumption should have the effect of reducing the worlds carbon footprint which is best described as the amount of greenhouse gasses (CO2) produced. This makes sense as 80-90% of the worlds energy consumption comes from fossil fuels (coal, wood, oil, gas). Obviously, facilities having lower energy consumption should also result in lower energy costs.
    • What organizations can do help: The short answer is just about everything. Energy savings tips can be found on most power driven assets. From chiller to boilers to HVAC units there is always an opportunity to make sure the equipment is operating at optimal efficiencies. Both office buildings and companies can implement policies of shutting down unused equipment such as computers, office machines or turning down/off lights in lightly trafficked areas.
    • How an EAM/CMMS can help: The secret to lowering energy consumption for plants, hospitals, amusement parks, schools as all other facilities is to establish an effective energy reduction plan to be managed by an EAM/CMMS system. The advantage of using an EAM/CMMS solution is that it will identify each asset that needs to be maintained, provide the scheduling tools to optimize maintenance management, record the history of the work performed and most importantly provide maintenance management with data necessary to more accurately analyze the operational costs data for capital planning.
  7. Sustainability
    • Description: Sustainability is the capacity to endure. Fears of fossil fuel depletion, pollution, and a growing world population have raised concerns about the Earths ability to continue supporting human life as we know it. The trickle down to industry is concerns that industry will fail or not be negatively impact the worlds ability to keep moving forward. Sustainability planning is a mindset that we can all do more to protect our planets resources from overuse and waste.
    • What organizations can do help: Sustainability for industry refers to better planning for growth, energy use, natural resource conservation such as water or fuels and the reduction of waste products. For non-power producing organizations this can be achieved by education, training and going green strategies.For the energy producing utility industry the need for sustainability is critical to their survival. The majority of energy producing power plants still use fossil fuels as the catalyst for energy production. Alternative fuel sources such as wind, solar, geothermal or biomass are still under developed. The opportunity for alternative fuel sources is how convert the source fuel into energy at economically feasible costs. This is the reason The Federal Government has initiated so many alternative fuel stimulus programs. Therefore reducing the demand for fossil fuels is crucial for sustainability.
    • How an EAM can help: Energy costs are highly dependent on the amount of fossil fuel needed to begin the energy transfer process. The more efficient the energy conversion process the less fuel is used, costs are lower and energy is cheaper. Ideally, demand is constant and assets are run at 100% capacity with no down time. This will never be true, therefore energy producers need to exercise extreme vigilance in maintaining assets at optimal efficiency. Some equipment can be monitored by sensing devices but other assets may require a visual inspection to identify leaks, corrosion or other items that can cause equipment shutdown. An EAM is the perfect solution for establishing regularly scheduled maintenance procedures and incorporating various maintenance technologies to maximize uptime.

Tell us how your company helped to recognize Earth Day.

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Stuart Smith

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