The physical buildings that house your manufacturing operations can be sources of powerful energy savings. You can find low-hanging fruit for energy efficiency within your infrastructure. These can include the structures and materials that make up your buildings, as well as the processes you follow within them. We’ll explore low-hanging fruit below. 

The most effective method for discovering impactful energy savings is through an Energy Audit.

However, you can look in several places for low-hanging fruit, such as: 

  1. Buildings Facilities
  2. Lighting
  3. Heating and Boilers
  4. HVAC Systems

In this article we’ll discuss low-hanging fruit for energy efficiency in manufacturing buildings.

Modern manufacturing exterior - energy efficiency in manufacturing buildings

Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing Buildings: Low-Hanging Fruit

When it comes to the buildings that house your manufacturing operations, you consume most of your energy maintaining ambient temperatures. Your team running the manufacturing operations need to be comfortable, firstly, for their health, and then secondly to maintain productivity. 

So it’s no surprise that the low-hanging fruit for energy efficiency in manufacturing buildings revolves around temperature control.  

We’ll now discuss: 

  1. Materials used in the building structure
  2. Air-tightness of the building
  3. Selective heating of occupied spaces

Factory Energy Efficiency: Materials Used in the Building Structure

As a manufacturer, you know more than anyone that different materials have different levels of heat conductivity. Within building structures, the use of highly conductive materials can create thermal bridges, leading to rapid heat loss. Addressing thermal bridges in your factory structures can yield energy efficiencies. 

Doors and door frames can be good examples. An outside door made of highly conductive materials like metal, or outside doors that lack sufficient thickness can lead to a significant heat loss. Switching to an energy efficient door can reduce heat loss by 12%

And of course, roofs can be an issue. Metal roofing materials can create powerful thermal bridges. Insulating a metal roof on an industrial structure costs around €40 per square foot while decrease heat loss by up to 33%.  

Factory Energy Efficiency: Air-Tightness

If you’re looking for energy efficiencies within your building facilities, addressing air leakages through the building envelope can be a source of low-hanging fruit. 

Typically, manufacturing operations can make use of fan pressurisation testing to measure air leakage and identify leaks within a building. Overall, improving air-tightness across the envelop of your manufacturing operation can reduce heat loss by 35%

Windows are a common culprit for air leakages. Improving the insulation around joints and edges of windows can lead to heat loss reductions of 10%.  

Given that air leakage in commercial buildings accounts for around 6% of total commercial energy spends, both the 10% and 35% reductions in heat loss cited above could lead to substantial reductions in your annual energy bills.

Factory Energy Efficiency: Zonal Heating

Different parts of your building may be used at different times of the day. Similarly, different sections of the same shop floor may have higher usage than others. You can find energy efficiencies in the selective heating of only those rooms or zones that are occupied. 

Cutting-edge heating methods such as Far Infrared heating (FIR) can help you pinpoint spots on your shop floor that require differential heating. Studies show that deploying zonal heating with FIR can lead to energy savings of up to 76%

Although FIR can have a substantial up-front price tag, switching to FIR brings such strong heating efficiencies that the payback period can be as little as 520 days.

For those not ready to make the jump to FIR, you can leverage your current heating sources in a zonal manner to achieve efficiencies. Using conventional heating in a selectively targeted manner, in combination with tools like PVC strip doors and high-speed doors, can help manufacturing operations reduce energy consumption by 14%.  

For a full view of energy efficiency in manufacturing, including steps you can take without capital investment, and government funding sources for energy efficiency, see our Energy Efficiency in Manufacturing: A Complete Guide

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