Electrolux's Green Spirit Summit

By Kiran Thirumaran, Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Jul 11, 2016

Corporate annual energy meetings are a fantastic way to engage employees and disseminate information throughout an organization—they’re a keynote activity in many established company energy programs. The Electrolux Green Spirit Summit is one example, and provides a platform for the corporate sustainability team to review performance, set energy efficiency targets and frame a roadmap to meet these goals. As a Better Plants Challenge partner and an industry leader for household durables in Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, Electrolux considers annual energy meetings an integral part of its successful Green Spirit program.   

The Green Spirit program is Electrolux’s internal sustainability program set up to drive energy efficiency and promotes energy management practices within the organization. The program functions at the facility level with a cross-functional team headed by a Green Spirit Leader, who represents each facility at the annual summit.                                                                                       

This year’s annual Green Spirit Summit was held at the Electrolux facility in St. Cloud, MN during the last week of May. The event spanned three days and hosted Green Spirit Leaders from every North American Electrolux plant. A new inclusion to this year’s event was announcing participation in the Department of Energy’s Better Plants Challenge, a leadership initiative aiming to cut energy wasted by the nation’s buildings, plants and homes.

The event went as follows:

  • It kick started with sessions dedicated to reviewing each facility’s performance. Following the review, the summit went into full swing with Tomas Dahlman, Electrolux’s director of Group Sustainability Affairs, laying out the companies 2020 targets for sustainability. Electrolux’s resource reduction goals include 20% reduction in energy intensity by 2020 across its manufacturing plants and a 5% per year reduction in water intensity at all plants in the water stressed areas. Further, Electrolux is looking to get all its manufacturing plants ISO 50001 certified by 2018 and is evaluating technologies to set separate goals for renewable energy.
  • With the targets set, discussions on ways to achieve them followed. External resources available to Electrolux through its partnership with the Department of Energy and the local utilities were explored.  The Better Plant’s technical account manager, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), laid out the various offerings available to them through the Better Plants Program.  As a follow on, the facilities that could most benefit from these activities were identified.
  • In line with Electrolux’s corporate goals of ISO 50001 certification by 2018, the Better Plants team from ORNL delivered a session on ISO 50001 which delved into the eGuide, a toolkit designed by DOE to help organizations implement a robust energy management system. The Better Plants team also delivered a technical session which covered energy opportunities in Electrolux’s major energy users - compressed air and process heating systems. The sessions helped initiate a conversation among the facility personnel that resulted in the identification of energy savings opportunities in associated systems.
  • The final day was dedicated to sharing best practices. Each Green Spirit Leader gave a short presentation on the best energy efficiency projects carried out at their respective plants. The best practices ranged from opportunities at the equipment level to broader process related improvements. Some of the projects discussed included: the installation of a centralized vacuum system at the dishwasher manufacturing plant in Kinston, NC; installing fast-acting doors to isolate conditioned spaces at the oven manufacturing plant in Memphis, TN; and implementing Single Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) methods to reduce waste at their plastic stamping plant in Juarez, Mexico.  The practices that were deemed to be suitable at other plants were compiled into a master list and will be shared globally.

To wrap up the Summit, facilities received recognition for achieving their Green Spirit Certifications, an internal energy management certification system Electrolux developed to evaluate sites based on various criteria and performance.

This year’s annual Green Spirit Summit, much like previous years, was a big success.  This annual energy meeting provided a fantastic platform for Electrolux’s corporate sustainability team to bring together key stakeholders to effectively coordinate sustainability efforts across the company. The annual summits, along with all of the Green Spirit sustainability efforts, have helped Electrolux reduce its energy intensity by 22% over the last five years.

Electrolux joined the Better Plants Challenge in December 2015 and has been actively involved with the program ever since. Through the Better Plants Challenge, Electrolux will receive a number of benefits, including In-Plant Training (INPLT), access to DOE experts and national labs, networking opportunities with other partners, national recognition for its efforts, guidance on DOE-developed tools and priority access to other DOE resources.

Learn more about Electrolux’s Better Plants Challenge commitment in the Better Buildings Solution Center.