Energy Treasure Hunt Yields Strong Energy Savings Opportunities at Prevost South Plainfield, New Jersey, Facility

By Bruce Lung, Better Plants Program on Jan 25, 2018

Prevost, a subsidiary of Volvo Group that is the leading North American manufacturer of premium passenger buses, conducted its first ever energy treasure hunt at their South Plainfield, NJ, facility on January 14-15, 2018. Staff from Prevost were motivated after having participated in a Better Plants In Plant training on Energy Treasure Hunt Exchanges. That experience made them realize that they could apply the concepts and techniques in their own facilities. Over the 2-day event two teams composed of Prevost employees and some energy treasure hunt veterans from Volvo’s Mack Trucks,  corporate Real Estate and Health, Safety and Environment divisions, conducted a holistic assessment of the South Plainfield site to uncover energy efficiency opportunities, share energy efficiency best practices and increase employee engagement  i n the plant’s energy management efforts. In this particular case, both teams covered the entire facility, which included 5,000 ft2 of office space, 15,000 ft2 of plant space and 40,000 ft2 in the warehouse.

As with other energy treasure hunts, the event began on a Sunday morning, when the facility was closed so that the teams could observe what applications were operating. The warehouse offered the teams the opportunity to identify some applications that were in use as well as some conditions that enabled energy losses such as dock doors that weren’t fully closed. The office space, which includes a customer welcome center, yielded some opportunities with HVAC and appliances. The plant area, which is where the buses are serviced and repaired, offered a mix of opportunities with building envelope and industrial applications. The teams also identified some existing best practices as well as energy-saving opportunities. According to Christian Gagnon of Prevost, who served as the facilitator, “Participants came prepared and were engaged throughout the event. We are looking forward to implementing the opportunities at all our facilities having similar operations.”

The best practices identified included:

  • Infrared heating in the plant
  • Motion sensors tied to light fixtures in the warehouse
  • Photovoltaic panels providing 50% of the electrical demand
  • No compressed air leaks, primary compressed air storage and no unregulated compressed air end uses
  • Several appliances, e.g. computers, turned off 

Most of the opportunities had simple paybacks of less than one year. The main energy efficiency projects identified during the energy treasure hunt included:

  • Replacing fluorescent lighting with Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) in the entire facility
  • Address heat loss in walls and roof openings
  • Install timers on various appliances such as vending machines
  • Fully shut off unneeded equipment at the end of the day/shift
  • Validate compressor discharge set point and reduce if possible

By the end of the event, the energy treasure hunt team quantified all the recommendations and found that in aggregate they represented a reduction in annual energy expenditures of up to 34% across the entire facility. For Craig Heaton, the South Plainfield Branch Manager, “Some of the energy savings opportunities were quite a surprise. It’s amazing how fast and simple you can make some behavior changes to begin saving right away.”

The very next day after the event, the warehouse manager held a meeting with his crew to address the behavioral opportunities that would improve energy consumption in that part of the plant. These opportunities had immediate paybacks because they involved ensuring that unneeded equipment was fully shut off.