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Celanese: Targeted Energy Treasure Hunts Engage Employees to Find More Savings

An energy Treasure Hunt had not been performed at the site for several years, so the site team took the opportunity to engage a larger group of employees to look for and identify new energy reduction opportunities—these were referred to as gems. Employees were rewarded for identifying and reporting gems, defined as energy losses and energy waste that may have become normalized over time and could be improved upon. A traditional Celanese Treasure Hunt typically involves engaging multiple resources—often including energy subject experts from outside the plant—to take a deep dive and evaluate opportunities to save energy. The site was limited to using only the resources on-site with minimal cross-unit exposure and was prevented from conducting a group-style plant energy assessment. 

To document findings submitted by employees, existing systems such as the work notification system and incident reporting systems were used. This enabled employees to enter their ideas into existing database systems, and the energy team immediately communicated the ideas to the area's technical resources to perform technical viability analysis and plan implementation. To increase employee engagement at this 24/7 operating site with multiple operation shifts, the Treasure Hunt was held over the course of one month. At the end of each week, a drawing was held for three of the identified ideas to be recognized with awards. These included home energy savings tools such as smart light bulbs, energy-saving window film, and low-flow faucet heads to help improve home energy and water efficiency. At the end of the month,   the person with the largest number of gems found and the person with the largest overall energy savings gems identified received a smart home thermostat. All participants received a meal for participating in the event when the site identified more than $250,000 in energy savings opportunities.

Implementation of the identified energy opportunities will take place over the subsequent six-month period. These will include projects such as steam, condensate, steam traps, and compressed air leaks   and insulation repairs, which will occur during equipment outage periods. To sustain the engagement, and to ensure closed-loop feedback to the site teams, periodic updates on the status of the findings and ongoing repairs and projects will be communicated to the site.

To ensure this effort was sustained throughout the Treasure Hunt month, biweekly emails were sent out with “Energy Sparks” to spark ideas for where personnel could look for typical energy savings opportunities, along with updates on the site’s progress towards the $250,000 goal.

Initial planning, scoping, and alignment with site leadership to develop the program took approximately one month. The Treasure Hunt challenge was conducted over one month. 

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Celanese recognizes that Treasure Hunts are a great way to find energy waste and energy conservation opportunities at any manufacturing facility. The Treasure Hunt challenge encouraged employees to look for issues and report them immediately. This innovative approach increased awareness of energy efficiency opportunities and helped to foster a culture of proactive energy management. One outcome has been that staff continue to document reports of energy losses and other leaks, site teams have requested information on energy losses and costs to share at shift changeover meetings. This approach can be easily replicated at Celanese’s more than 30 facilities and will continue to be promoted. 

During the initial Treasure Hunt challenge, over 60 site personnel identified and documented 118 energy savings ideas or “Treasure Hunt gems” into the site tracking system. The total savings identified exceeded the target of $250,000 in actionable savings opportunities which allowed all participants to receive the recognition meal. This Treasure Hunt challenge successfully engaged a wide cross-section of employees in the conservation of energy efficiency and continuous improvement across the site. The total energy reduction opportunities identified from the Treasure Hunt was approximately 77k MMBtu/year for the site which is equivalent to eliminating 4,530 tons of CO2e. As an active participant in the DOE Better Plants program and EPA ENERGY STAR partnership, Celanese will continue to look for ways to be more proactive with its commitment to sustainability, energy efficiency, and GHG emission reductions.