The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) notes that industrial buildings employ energy-intensive systems to heat, ventilate, air condition, light, and otherwise support processes and personnel. These support functions consume up to 33 percent of all energy used in manufacturing sites. In 2002, U.S. manufacturing buildings used an estimated 2 quadrillion Btu (including electricity-related losses) - more than the entire U.S. food processing industry and more than 4.4 percent of U.S. manufacturing energy consumption overall, according to DOE’s Energy Information Administration. The energy used annually by manufacturing buildings costs industry about $12 billion and is equivalent to the energy used in 34 million passenger cars or in 11 million homes.


Industrial facilities present a unique opportunity to save energy by recovering energy and/or water from industrial processes. Waste heat from processing and/or combined heat and power systems may be used to power, cool, heat, and dehumidify the facilities. Improvements in the design and operation of industrial facilities can yield energy savings of a quarter quadrillion Btu per year by 2017, says DOE. This savings would reduce the peak load on natural gas, electric, and water systems - thus increasing energy security and improving the reliability of manufacturing systems.

As part of its Save Energy Now initiative, DOE’s Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) works with industry to foster the use of advanced technologies and best practices in energy management to capture potential energy savings. Relevant technologies include demand-based controls, low-cost wireless sensors, intelligent metering, building envelope upgrades, and high-efficiency water heaters and boilers. These energy-saving opportunities also represent manufacturing and installation job opportunities.


Challenges to identifying and implementing energy-saving strategies in industrial buildings, says DOE, include the following:

• Evolving technologies for HVAC, lighting, sensing, control, water management, and metering.

• Access to useful analytic tools.

• Limited understanding of demand-response technologies.

• Under-recognized value of onsite generation.

• Limited scenarios of energy transport to nearby users.

• Lack of corporate-wide energy management standards.

• Limited availability of training.


DOE said it offers facility owners and managers tools to evaluate and deploy more energy-efficient technologies, design high-performance facilities, and select energy-management best practices. Building upon its Save Energy Now program and associated assessment process, DOE’s resources can help companies accomplish the following:

• Reduce facility energy consumption 25 percent and total plant energy consumption 1 to 5 percent by adopting cleaner energy sources; energy-efficient, facilities-related best practices; and improved technologies.

• Use software tools to set an energy baseline and profile, analyze energy use, and find savings opportunities (go to to access these tools):

- Quick Plant Energy Profiler to benchmark facilities.

- Industrial Facilities Score Card to quickly identify opportunities.

- Buildings Cooling, Heating, and Power Systems Screening Tool to assess the economic potential of these systems in commercial buildings.

- Industrial Facilities System Assessment Tool (beta version) to analyze building energy use scenarios.

- Data Center Tool DC Pro to help identify data center opportunities.

- Steam, Compressed Air, Motor, Pump and Fan opportunities.

• Train staff to identify additional opportunities, use analysis software, and/or become Certified Practitioner or Qualified Specialists.

• Train industrial facility designers, operators, and managers to use the latest facility energy-management best practices and tools.

• Employ design guidelines; identify and install applicable technologies.

• Use cool roof technology to design and maintain efficient roofing.

• Use wireless sensors and meters with energy management visualization tools to help maintenance staff quickly recognize and respond to energy management opportunities (e.g., steam trap failure, steam/water use in unoccupied space, filter near-full, motor pre-failure indicator, inappropriate system operation for time of day, or the approach of an electrical demand charge). See UC Davis’ Utilities Consumption Dashboard ( for a public example of an energy awareness tool.

• Use adjustable speed drives for significant energy reductions and improved performance.

• Use commissioning to verify energy savings from changes.

For more information, visit

Publication date:09/21/2009