King Arthur Flour is on a quest to save energy and money
Cover image provided by King Arthur Flour. For many Vermonters, a bag of all-purpose King Arthur Flour is a familiar sight in their kitchen. Maybe even more so after 2020, when many families turned to baking as a quarantine hobby. The bakers and baking experts at King Arthur Flour were hard at work the past year, as every year. They helped their customers improve our own baking experiments and provided tasty treats from their headquarters in Norwich, Vermont.
In 2013, King Arthur Flour had just completed a new building to house their bakery, store, and school at their flagship campus in Norwich, dubbed “Camelot.” As a certified B-Corp, the company prioritized efficient design and practices throughout the new building. But in 2018, Camelot Facilities Director James Kirkpatrick wanted to make sure everything was working as it should. Five years into a new building is a good time to revisit the controls that automate the building’s systems. He had a feeling that they might be able to make some improvements.
For any baker, the heat of the bakery is part of the job, with ovens running nearly constantly. From an energy perspective, that means James is more worried about cooling the building than heating it, even in Vermont’s long winter. And in 2018, James was seeing days of 85+ in the bakeries. When it’s too hot in the bakery, bread won’t rise properly, toppings won’t cool, and the bakers themselves might overheat.
King Arthur Flour and Efficiency Vermont have a longstanding relationship. As with all large energy users in the state, we have a dedicated account manager to provide 1:1 support to King Arthur Flour. James picked up the phone to discuss making some changes at Camelot with account manager Cathy Reynolds.
“We have a terrific relationship; it’s been great from the get-go. The answer is never ‘no,’ it’s always ‘let me look into it.’ There’s always the effort to find a solution.”
Cathy turned to her colleague Marcus Jones, one of Efficiency Vermont’s Energy Consultants. Marcus brought in Eveline Killian from CX Associates. CX Associates could analyze and update the building's controls system. They set up time for an in-person visit of the facility.
The team saw some issues right away. The system was designed to use the cold air outside in winter months to save energy on cooling. But that function wasn’t working properly, leaving it overly reliant on a more energy-intensive mechanical chiller to provide cooling, even in the winter. More energy was being used for less cooling overall.
They were able to make some changes to the controls to improve operations immediately, while they were on site. The rest were made shortly after the visit, all adjustments to controls and settings that would help the system operate more efficiently all year round. It was a relatively quick fix – no new equipment needed – with lasting impacts. The changes improved the quality of the product in the bakery and helped the bakers stay more comfortable. They were also estimated to save $5,500 in energy costs each year.
This is just one of many energy projects that James has led in his time at King Arthur Flour, from lighting to heating in the offices, to more efficient ovens. James is already working with Cathy on the next steps for future energy savings. “It’s never difficult to sell energy improvement projects to our leadership,” said James. “We’re always actively looking for ways to reduce our emissions, our energy usage, our water usage. These improvements are just cost effective to make – not only benefiting King Arthur but the environment as well.”