Expanded Impact: Energy Efficiency Resources for Suppliers

As it becomes commonplace for manufactures to focus on energy efficiency within their own operations, some are beginning to look beyond their four walls to help improve energy performance in their supply chains.

Between 40 and 60 percent of a manufacturer’s energy footprint is created upstream in its supply chain, and in many cases it can be as high as 80 percent1.This is why the DOE Better Buildings, Better Plants program (Better Plants) created the Supply Chain Initiative to help manufacturers improve energy efficiency throughout their supply chains. By joining, Better Plants partners can sponsor a supply chain cohort to set energy saving goals, develop energy management plans, and report their progress on an annual basis. Suppliers who join receive access to free DOE resources and expert assistance, access to free energy audits, and opportunities to network and learn from peers.

Four Better Plants partners are already working with 31 suppliers to reduce their energy use and save money. Both the sponsor and the participating supplier receive technical assistance through a Technical Account Manager (TAM), who works closely with each partner to help navigate the program and tap into energy-saving resources:

  • Led by Better Plants experts, In-Plant Trainings educate participants on how to identify, implement, and replicate energy-saving projects with topics such as compressed air, water/wastewater treatment, industrial refrigeration, and strategic energy management. These workshops are available to the sponsor company, as well as any outside stakeholders invited by the sponsor.
  • There are also many networking opportunities available through the Better Plants program, including events hosted at national laboratories, the Better Buildings Summit, forums, webinars, and more.
  • Another resource available to partners and participating suppliers is the Diagnostic Equipment Program, in which Oak Ridge National Laboratory provides a variety of instruments for up to four weeks free of charge to identify opportunities for energy-efficiency improvements.
  • Partners have access to no-cost energy assessments from DOE’s Industrial Assessment Centers, which identify actionable energy-efficiency opportunities that don’t necessarily require large capital expenditure. Within the UTC cohort, five suppliers received IAC audits, identifying a total of $995,000 in annual energy cost-savings opportunities. Average payback for the entire 2015 Supply Chain Initiative IAC assessments was a little less than a year.
  • Combined heat and power (CHP) technical assistance partnerships are available for end-users and stakeholders considering CHP to identify market opportunities through vendor, fuel, and technology neutral assessments of CHP viability.
  • Partners and their suppliers will also have assistance in implementing energy management based on the structure of the ISO-50001 energy management standard through the 50001 Ready program. This online Navigator walks you through the process of implementing an energy management system and prepares you to be 50001 ready. Once energy performance metrics are calculated, they can be submitted to the DOE for 50001 Ready recognition.

[The initiative] has encouraged our suppliers to map out a plan for their energy management while offering them access to resources such as free industrial assessments to jump start their energy savings,” said Corporate Energy Manager of UTC, Sean West. “The DOE provides an annual report summarizing the aggregate progress made by the cohort. We would recommend that other partners consider initiating a supply chain program for their company.”

Join the Better Plants Supply Chain Initiative to take advantage of the wide range of free resources offered. For more information on getting your suppliers involved in this program, contact Bruce Lung (Robert.Lung@EE.Doe.Gov) and Holly Carr (Holly.Carr@EE.Doe.Gov).

1C. Brickman and D. Ungerman, "Climate Change and Supply Chain Management," McKinsey Quarterly, July 2008.