Green Meters & CO2: How Manufacturers "Walk the Talk" & Reduce Their Carbon Footprint
Department of Energy data reveals the average CO2 emission in the United States to be 1.37 pounds for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated. This takes into consideration all forms of generation from nuclear to coal-fired plants. To put it in everyday terms, using ten 100W electric light bulbs for one hour will inject 1.37 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. So what can be done to reduce it?
Facilities can start by benchmarking how much CO2 they are generating. Metering technology has reached the point where users now have an easy way to see their own carbon footprint. These so-called "green submeters" come in sizes ranging from 100A to 3200A for both 120/208V and 277/480V applications. They can be installed anywhere, and because they use split-core current sensors to measure the equipment or circuits of interest, they are quickly and easily installed without powering down the load.
Submeters are useful for raising awareness of both electrical consumption and carbon footprint. Meters from E-Mon and other suppliers now come with rolling displays that show kilowatt-hours used, real-time kilowatt load, the estimated total amount of CO2 generated to provide electricity and the projected hourly CO2 emissions based on actual load. Additionally, meters let users see their electrical energy cost to date and their projected hourly cost based on actual load. Available software automatically graphs CO2 emissions in parallel to demand (kW) figures, while also providing the data in tabular format where the peak CO2 load and the total CO2 emissions are displayed.
Okay, after installing the meters to track consumption and demand, along with monitoring the facility's carbon footprint, what steps can be taken to actually lower it?
Consider the example of E-Mon and its recent move to a new headquarters that boosted previous capacity by 70 percent. To offset a presumed large increase in its carbon footprint, the company implemented a series of aggressive sustainable facility measures to make operations more efficient, profitable and mindful of environmental concerns. Now, or soon to be operational, these green facility improvements include:
- 33 percent savings through an energy-efficient lighting upgrade that exceeds stringent energy regulations
- Facility-wide occupancy sensors, lighting control panels and electric submeters
- Waterless urinals that annually conserve 40,000 gallons each
- Green cleaning service utilizing environmentally friendly chemicals and supplies
- Researching solar panels to generate enough power to support all engineering and production activities
- Recycling of cans, paper, etc.
Although these changes are still too recent to have had a major financial impact, significantly lower operational overhead is expected. Leading-edge technology, combined with good old-fashioned common sense, is an easily accessible way for any manufacturer, or other facility type for that meter, to not just talk the talk-but walk the walk-to lower costs, save energy and reduce its contribution to the global carbon footprint.
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