Production Normalization Pilot

A working group at the 2019 Michigan Energy Summit to explore beyond BTU per Square Foot

Written by Myka Irvine, recent GVSU graduate and Team Member of San Chez A Tapas Bistro
Product Normalization Pilot Breakout Session at the Michigan Energy Summit
Product Normalization Pilot Breakout Session at the Michigan Energy Summit

Until now, Michigan Battle of the Buildings competitors have measured energy by energy use intensity (EUI): dividing the energy load in BTU by the square footage. At the Michigan Energy Summit a working group engaged in open dialogue tackling issues with said metric as it relates to the heavy process load at manufacturing and industrial facilities.

Through a partnership with the EPA’s ENERGYSTAR Challenge for Industry a production normalization pilot was launched in 2018.  The pilot encourages companies to divide the overall BTU’s consumed by a production normalizer (ie:  widget, labor hours, revenue etc).

Kevin Dunbar (Left) and Melissa Hulting (Right)

At the heart of this conversational workshop were three speakers passionate about energy reduction and finding the best metrics to help disseminate the complex data. Kevin Dunbar from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Al Hildreth from General Motors (GM) and Melissa Hulting from the EPA, collaboratively shared personal experiences from their experiences supervising and managing energy.

Dunbar reflected on the importance of accounting for the whole product rather than just single components when determining energy usage. Dunbar explained the benefit of equivalent units which accounts for these single parts within the whole product.

Hulting shared her experience of working with a meat packer outside of Chicago that makes the canadian bacon on Egg McMuffins. The facility is measuring their energy usage (kBTU) by production rate rather than by square foot.

Gillian Giem (Left) and Al Hildreth (Right)

Hildreth mentioned that Energy Star Treasure Hunts encourage a whole workforce to be mindful of  the changes that can made to reduce energy consumption.  Treasure hunts can pinpoint specific areas for improvement inside a facility. Hildreth highlighted the advantages of daily targets and that business will benefit from controlling energy and making changes on a tangible, day-by-day basis. He used this opportunity to talk about their Web-Enabled Energy Onstar dashboard that helps to track these daily goals and locate energy hotspots.

These experienced individuals lead a workshop dialogue that introduced alternatives to measuring beyond BTU per square foot. They emphasized sharing best practices across silos and working together to reduce overall emissions. Dunbar's closing advice to the working group was, "Whichever energy metrics are the best fit for your company, it is important that the data collected is not just a number. It should be something you can take action on to reduce that consumption.”

Hildreth’s resonating message was to use data that is already available to measure energy and normalize it from this foundation