Armstrong Flooring: Zero-Kilowatt Challenge Delivers 50% Energy Savings During Shutdown Periods
Armstrong Flooring, Inc. is a global manufacturer of flooring products for commercial and residential use. Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for over 150 years, Armstrong Flooring employs 3,500 people worldwide and operates eight plants within three countries, including six in the United States. An energy audit at the company’s Lancaster Plant revealed a 200 hp air compressor that was running over the weekend. This discovery led the sustainability team to investigate shutdown procedures and ensure all employees were addressing opportunities to reduce and eliminate energy use when plants are not operational. The team rolled out a campaign to engage employees in the effort and called it the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge. Its goal to reduce and eliminate energy use during shutdown periods, while not complicated, was something that all employees could help achieve. Including the initial program at the Lancaster Plant, Armstrong Flooring rolled out the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge to each of their eight manufacturing plants as a key component of their corporate energy efficiency program.
Armstrong Flooring’s corporate sustainability manager established and chairs the company’s Sustainability Steering Committee, which provides governance and sets the business direction regarding energy and material sustainability issues. The Sustainability Steering Committee is composed of Armstrong Flooring senior leadership and championed by the company’s CEO. The Steering Committee sets sustainability goals, including its goal of a 25% reduction in energy, water, and waste intensity by 2024.
Before kicking off the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge, each Armstrong Flooring plant underwent an energy assessment through the DOE Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program. The IACs are composed of university faculty and students that provide eligible plants with no-cost energy assessments. Following the assessment, each plant organized a Zero-Kilowatt Challenge team to update shutdown procedures to reflect all energy reduction efforts that must take place during plant shutdown. These measures include turning off specific manufacturing equipment, light fixtures, and ensuring HVAC set points were consistently followed during unoccupied periods. The biggest challenge in updating shutdown procedures was to determine which equipment could be shut down and understanding why a piece of equipment must remain on during the weekend.
Once shutdown procedures were updated and equipment turned off for shutdown, plant and corporate staff began closely monitoring energy use and demand during shutdown periods using data loggers and a free online energy software. The plant team spent time understanding energy spikes during shutdowns, which led to additional energy and water savings opportunities. One example of this was the jockey pump on the fire suppression system. The pump was linked to an energy spike every two hours during the weekend, which led the team to investigate further and revealed a leak in the water pipe system that was quickly fixed.
Each week, the corporate and plant staff chart the energy demand at 11 p.m. on Saturday during the shutdown period. This shutdown energy demand data is then posted and reviewed during the plant’s Monday morning meeting for comparison. The weekly check-in ensures that the weekend energy use is visible and that plant employees are engaged in helping to continually reduce energy use during and after the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge campaign.
Tools & Resources
U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center Program: https://www.energy.gov/eere/amo/industrial-assessment-centers-iacs
In 2019, the plant in Lancaster, PA showed a reduction in energy demand during shutdown periods by over 50%, from 800 kW to 350 kW—this equates to over 1.1 million kWh in energy savings per year. To ensure that savings are maintained and improved on, the plant teams continuously track kW demand being used at 11 p.m. on Saturday when the plant is shut down. Each plant tracks this number every week and reports it to employees during each Monday morning meeting. In 2020, Armstrong Flooring expanded the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge to the company’s seven other plants and expects similar results.
The Zero-Kilowatt Challenge provides a simple platform to show quick energy savings wins and foster a workplace culture that takes pride in eliminating and reducing energy waste. Including the initial program at the Lancaster plant, Armstrong Flooring has rolled the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge out to all eight manufacturing plants as a key component of their energy reduction efforts. This challenge has led to updated plant shutdown procedures at all manufacturing plants and the establishment of audit procedures for both plant and process shutdowns. While this is a new implementation for all plants, initial results at the Lancaster plant indicate a potential reduction in energy consumption while plants are shutdown by at least 50% across Armstrong Flooring’s portfolio of plants.
Armstrong Flooring launched the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge to engage employees in reducing and eliminating energy use during facility shutdown periods.
Ensuring all plants are following updated shutdown procedures and monitoring energy use when plants are not operational
Standardizing plant shutdown procedures and tracking energy use during shutdown periods through the Zero-Kilowatt Challenge campaign
Initial results at the Lancaster plant demonstrate the potential to reduce shutdown energy by at least 50% at all plants