To most people, Energy Star is a program that puts efficiency labels on home appliances. But the industrial version of Energy Star helps industrial plants get more efficient. The latest example of how the Energy Star program can help emerges in a recent report by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.
The report, Assessing Improvement in the Energy Efficiency of U.S. Auto Assembly Plants,demonstrates that the gap between top performing plants and others has closed in recent years, and the performance of the auto industry as a whole has improved when it comes to energy efficiency.
To figure out relative efficiency rankings, the EPA came up with the Energy Star Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) for auto assembly plants, which enables industry to benchmark plant energy performance against peers and over time. Energy Star EPIs exist or are under development for more than 20 other industries.
The U.S. industrial sector accounts for more than 30% of energy use in the United States. If the energy efficiency of industrial facilities improved by 10%, EPA estimates a savings of nearly $20 billion and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions from the electricity use of more than 22 million homes for a year. Hundreds of industrial companies across more than a dozen manufacturing industries are working with EPA’s Energy Star program to develop energy management programs, earn the Energy Star for their plants and achieve improvements in energy efficiency, EPA says.
For the auto industry, researchers say the best plants have only improved their energy efficiency slightly, but the distribution of efficiency data over all auto plants is steeper and has a shorter tail. This implies that the “pack” has made progress in catching up with the industry leaders.
Researchers also say the improvement in energy efficiency they noticed primarily manifests itself in improvements in fossil fuel use; changes in efficiency of electricity use have been negligible.
The full report can be found here: http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/institute/Duke_EE_WP_10-01.pdf