Businesses at the heart of the Green Mountain State invest in efficiency
Ben & Jerry’s, Keurig Green Mountain, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont all have sustainability goals embedded in their businesses. But energy efficiency helps them achieve financial sustainability as well. By keeping energy costs down, they can focus on their core businesses and continue serving Vermonters every day.
Ben & Jerry’s is driven by sustainability goals to continually reduce energy use, and is always looking for high-impact projects at its plants. In addition, peak demand charges at the St. Albans’ plant were doubling its monthly electric bills. The plant needed a way to cut costs.
The team had to work fast. They had a 14-day break in production to complete energy upgrades. Working with local contractors, they managed to cut energy demand in two major areas:
- Refrigeration: The team added variable frequency drives (VFDs) to the plant’s compressors and evaporator fans. VFDs help moderate the equipment so it’s only using the energy it needs in the moment.
- Lighting: The team installed efficient LEDs in the distribution freezer, production room, mix-making area, and spiral freezer.
Like many other manufacturing plants, the Ben & Jerry’s St. Albans plant operates 24/7 throughout most of the year. These long hours increase the impact of any upgrades. The energy savings are magnified, which accelerates the return on investment. In this case, the project will pay for itself in just under two years.
“We’ve cut electric use per gallon of ice cream by 18%.”
Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of Unilever Corporation, plans to share these project results with other Unilever facilities across the country.
Along with its award-winning coffees and innovative brewing technology, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. incorporates energy efficiency into designs and strategies.
That passion means they include energy efficiency as a core component of any new buildings and expansion projects. Some upgrades they have invested in include:
- Efficient compressed air systems with variable speed compressors and dryers, efficient pipe design, and control strategies that optimize performance
- High efficiency heat exchangers and chillers
- Variable speed fans in their roasting equipment to only run when needed
- High efficiency lighting to improve the atmosphere for employees and reduce maintenance
Keurig Green Mountain has collaborated with Efficiency Vermont on over 27 projects during the last five years. They include office space renovations that achieved Gold and Silver certification under the LEED for Commercial Interiors Rating System, as well as an 80,000 square foot expansion of its Waterbury, VT manufacturing plant and a newly-expanded 215,000 square foot facility in Essex, VT. As a result, the company’s energy savings total nearly $725,000 each year.
“The passion which we bring to great tasting coffee is the same passion that we bring towards energy efficiency and environmental soundness.”
Energy savings go a very long way toward helping Keurig Green Mountain decrease their energy footprint, helping to ensure that its sustainability success is as rich and deep as its coffee.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont was spending more than $900 per day in electricity costs at its Berlin headquarters. But with strategic energy upgrades, the company is now spending less than $500 per day—a 40% reduction.
Since 2008, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont has saved energy by:
- Replacing an old heating system with newer, more efficient heat pumps, which cut maintenance costs and increased the comfort of employees in addition to saving energy
- Upgrading interior lighting to soften light levels and improve light distribution
- Improving exterior lighting to increase safety and security
- Upgrading systems within its data center to improve temperature consistency and prevent premature equipment failure
“We never imagined we'd see savings this big, but here we are.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont received ENERGY STAR certification for its efforts at its Berlin offices. The facility performs in the top 25% among similar facilities nationwide and meets strict energy efficiency performance standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.