As part of our seventh annual Facilities of the Year Competition, we turn our spotlight on a remarkable goup of facilities that represent a variety of backgrounds and geographical areas. In this time of dramatic, unpredictable changes, we are all looking for role models to show us how to deal with today's economic challenges while maintaining our commitment to protect the environment. Our five award winners have used innovative approaches ranging from implementing offset projects that eliminate greenhouse gases to using landfill methane gas as a source of fuel to promote financial and environmental success.
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York
The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) has achieved ISO 14001 registration for the entire site, becoming the first national laboratory to obtain third-party registration to this globally recognized environmental standard. "In a time of ever-increasing appreciation of the fragility of our environment, Brookhaven Lab has set a gold standard of operations for all large institutions," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.
Reflecting its strong commitment to reducing waste and protecting the environment, BNL was recognized for its expanding pollution prevention (P2) program, winning two prestigious awards from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2001. Brookhaven won the awards for projects entitled "Process Evaluation Project"and "Environmental Management System Principles Leading Change." Brookhaven's program focuses on elimination or reduction of wastes, effluents and emissions at their source; conservation of natural resources and reuse of materials; recycling and procurement of environmentally preferable products. In 2001, seven P2 projects were funded resulting in $150,000 annual savings. Overall, savings from P2 projects in 2001 totaled $2.1 million. This year, $119,000 was allocated for P2 projects with an expected return on investment within five months with an annual savings of $268,000.
The DOE P2 awards spotlighted two projects that have led to significant changes in laboratory operations. The first project was a systematic environmental assessment of all waste-generating operations and experiments. Specialized assessment tools were developed. Key among these was a process-mapping technique that graphically depicted the process and clearly identified input materials and output waste streams. The second project describes an ongoing effort to fully integrate environmental stewardship into all facets of Brookhaven's operations. To accomplish this, the laboratory developed and funded several environmental improvement projects, including implementation of an environmental management system (EMS) that conforms to ISO 14001.
Finally, BNL has been ranked among the top five major institutions worldwide in terms of the impact of its environmental research, according to a study completed by The Guardian, a British newspaper.
Shakelee Corporation Nutritional Plant, Norman, Oklahoma
In 1998, Shaklee Corporation's Norman, Okla. manufacturing facility joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Climate Wise program and voluntarily pledged to its reduce energy consumption. As a requirement of participation, the entire 300,000 square foot nutritional supplement manufacturing plant was audited to establish an initial energy consumption baseline and a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory. Under contract with DOE, the Oklahoma State University Engineering Department conducted an independent, third party audit of the plant and reported that the Norman plant was "one of the cleanest and most energy efficiency facility in the state of Oklahoma."
In November 1999, Shaklee became a founding member of the Climate Neutral Network (www.climateneutral.com) and submitted an application for Climate Neutral certification. To become Climate Neutral, Norman had to first conduct a comprehensive inventory of its GHG emissions produced across all critical areas of the operations (i.e., manufacturing processes, employee commuting, corporate air travel, product transport to the warehouses and to the end user -- 500,000 Shaklee independent sales distributors). Staff then had to create a scientifically sound, environmentally credible portfolio of offset projects that would eliminate all GHG emissions produced by the plant -- estimated at 17,000 tons per year. The projects comprising the company's Climate Neutral Offset Portfolio included upgrading oil-fired heating boilers to energy efficient natural gas at several public schools; making photovoltaic solar systems available to rural families in India and installing small electric generators at the mouths of methane vents from abandoned coal mines. On Earth Day 2001, the Shaklee/Norman facility became the first certified Climate Neutral organization in the United States, meaning it had reduced and offset the greenhouse gases produced by its operations to achieve a net zero impact on the Earth's climate.
In March of 2002, Shaklee was awarded the 2002 Climate Protection (International) Award from EPA. The Norman plant also recently received a 2002 Environmental Excellence award from the city of Norman for outstanding wastewater treatment performance. For its extraordinary commitment to not only reduce the plant's GHG emissions but go beyond the Kyoto global warming treaty, Social Accountability International (SAI) and the Corporate Conscience Awards (CCA) recently announced that Shaklee received the 2002 Environmental Stewardship (International) award.
International Truck and Engine Corporation, Springfield, Ohio
International Truck and Engine Corporation Springfield Operations has a proven record of pollution prevention. Twice during the 1990s, the Sprinfield Assembly Plant was recognized with the Ohio Governor's Award for P2. In 2001, the Springfield Operations received the PBT Cup, jointly sponsored by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable and EPA for lead reductions. EPA also gave the Landfill Methane Outreach Program Energy Ally of the Year Award to the facility for its efforts to use landfill methane gas for fuel.
International has substantially reduced toxic material releases as a result of material substitutions or changes to processes. Releases reported for the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) have dropped from over 700,000 pounds in 1991 (13.5 pounds per truck), to 84,766 pounds in 2000 (1.7 pounds/truck). The lead reductions team was allowed to think out-of-the-box, not just looking at alternative solders or putty in repairing truck cabs. Their innovative solution was to find a way to reduce or even remove the solder application all together. The team found their answer in the LP-1000 Lenco Pull, a portable device used to pull dents out of metal. With the dents removed, solder is not required to fill in the defects. The $1,700 investment in the LP-1000 has saved time, money and energy as well as the removal of this use of lead solder from the plant. The production department has embraced the new technology since it speeds up repairs and reduces the likelihood that a cab would not be delivered to the next downstream department on time. Employees like the ease of use and not having to breath the lead emitted from the soldering method.
Late in 1999, the battery cable assembly process located at one of the company's facilities was moved to the Springfield plant. The ends of the battery cables are typically dipped in solder for electrical conductivity. In 2000, a project team was formed to evaluate alternative materials to eliminate lead from the process. Two materials were eventually approved after extensive testing for performance. The result was a decrease in the lead content from 45 percent by weight to zero. Approximately 16,000 pounds of lead solder was used each year before this change.
International will soon be burning landfill gas in process paint ovens, hot water boilers, and other natural gas fuel units, including an air pollution abatement unit at the facility. The plant will replace as much natural gas as possible with the methane gas, which could result in as much as $100,000 savings per year and decrease the greenhouse gas pollution. Projections are for 150,000 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) per year of methane gas, which correlates to a greenhouse gas reduction of 150,000 tons per year of carbon dioxides (CO2) and 14 tons of volative organize compound (VOC) equivalents by simply not allowing methane gas to passively escape to the atmosphere.
Anheuser-Busch Inc., Fairfield Brewery, Fairfield, California
The Fairfield Brewery is the only recognized ISO 14001 certified brewery within North America. The brewery produces 4.3 million barrels of beer per year. While doing this, the brewery recycles 98.8 percent of all material coming into the plant. Two major recycled streams are used to supply over 950 tons per year of ethanol for industrial use and fuel additives and over 94,000 tons per year of used grain that feeds cattle within the local area.
The brewery has been recognized by California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA) and the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Some of these recognitions are for WRAP-Of-The-Year Award (CIWMB) and Cal-EPA's Environmental Management Systems Program. On the national level, the Fairfield Brewery participates in the U.S. EPA's National Environmental Performance Track (NEPT). As a participating member, the facility management is highlighting several of its conservation efforts within water, wastewater, suspended solids (within the wastewater) and total tonnage sent to the local landfill.
Delphi Deltronicos de Matamoros Automotive Parts Manufacturing, Los Indios, Texas
Delphi has participated in the Mexican Government's voluntary Industria Limpia certification since 1994. The receipt of Procuraduria Federal de Proteccion al Ambiente's (PROFEPA) 1998 Industria Limpia, along with subsequent biennial recognitions, confirms Delphi's pioneer role in voluntary environmental certifications within the automotive industry. Deltrónicos is one of four Mexico sites that have been recently recognized for their energy management programs.
An energy team from the four plants worked together to identify and implement 38 energy saving projects. These efforts, led by Deltrónicos, enabled the Delphi plants from the Mexico eastern region to win the 2000 Mexico National Energy Saving Award and a 2001 Delphi Energy Award. The facility has also aggressively pursued waste reduction activities in its paint processes over the past few years. A paint sludge dewatering system, installed in 1999, resulted in the recycling of 144,762 gallons of water over eight months and a 90 percent reduction in the weight of paint sludge sent for disposal. In 2000, a 10 year old painting machine with limited technology, low transfer efficiencies and high costs was replaced with new technology, resulting in a 66 percent decrease in raw material usage. It also led to further reductions in water usage, hazardous waste generation and costs. In 2001, the facility initiated another dewatering process that is further reducing the amount of paint sludge disposal using a sanitary drying bed system.
The commitment of Deltronicos management to the community has been evidenced by the receipt of EPA and Delphi awards for emergency preparedness. Mike Gonzalez, a Deltronicos environmental engineer, worked with the local emergency planning committee (LEPC) of Brownsville and federal governing entities of both the United States (EPA, Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission) and Mexico to design and implement one of the first bi-national "sister city" programs for Brownsville/Matamoros. The Brownsville/Matamoros project was used as one of the models for more than a dozen "sister city" programs along the border of the United States and Mexico, engaging U.S. and Mexican citizens from maquiladora plants, city, state and national governmental agencies to reduce obstacles to emergency response. The effort has significantly improved spill emergency response time along the border. Additional training has continued on a regular basis. EPA Region 6 has pointed to Deltronicos as a model of emergency preparedness that others should follow. Deltronicos has also demonstrated leadership in emergency preparedness by working through the Maquiladora Association to develop a chemical inventory for the maquiladoras that is consistent with EPA's EPCRA Tier II Chemical Inventory.
Nominations for Our 2003 Facilities of the Year
Do you anticipate that your facility will be formally recognized in 2003 for pollution prevention strategies, innovative design or other environmental accomplishments? If so, please let us know and we'll consider it for the title of one of our next Facilities of the Year, which will be considered in our November-December 2003 issue. Every year we single out the top industrial plants, water and wastewater treatment operations, landfills or other types of facilities that have been recognized for outstanding environmental achievements by governmental regulators, trade associations or other professional groups. The deadline for submissions for next year's competition will be August 1, 2003. If you are interested, please contact Angela Neville, editor-in-chief, firstname.lastname@example.org or (972) 687-6721.
Honorable Mention for Environmental Achievers
We were impressed by the caliber of environmental excellence shown by all the facilities that participated in this year's competition. Below are listed some other outstanding entries in our contest:
Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority Household Hazardous Waste Facility, Mt. Olive Township, N.J., was presented the 2001 Program Excellence Award for Household and Small Business Hazardous Waste Management by the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association. Additionally, the Solid Waste Association of North America honored the facility with its 1999 Special Waste Management Silver Award for its commitment ot achieving the highest standards in the municipal solid waste field.
Rhodia, Inc., Spartanburg, S.C., is a surfactant manufacturing facility. In 2000, Rhodia was admitted as a Charter Member into EPA's National Environmental Performance Track, the only chemical manufacturing facility in South Carolina to gain entry into this prestigious program. This organization of environmental excellence overachievers seeks to share best practices among its almost 300 members. Rhodia is also a founding member of the Performance Track Participants Association.
Tennsco Corporation, Dickson, Tenn., is a steel furniture manufacturer that has made significant reductions in water and chemical usage, wastewater discharges, air emissions and hazardous waste. With process changes, the facility has more than doubled its paiting capaciaty since 1994, yet reduced air emissions levels by 90 percent. Likewise, in 1994 the plant shipped 207,272 kilograms of hazardous waste, compared with zero in 2001.
Boeing - Irving Company, a subsidiary of The Boeing Company, Irving, Texas, is an avionics manufacturing facility that has been recognized with the following awards: 2000 - Finalist Environmental Excellence Awards - Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC); 2000 - Outstanding Workplace Waste Reduction and Recycling Program - Recycling Coalition of Texas; and 2001 - Finalist Environmental Excellence Awards - TNRCC.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2002 issue of Environmental Protection, Vol. 13, No. 10, p. 16.
This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2002 issue of Environmental Protection.