Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fast Company Fact: Green Manufacturing Helps Stalling Economy

According to Fast Company magazine, ‘Green jobs have been touted as a silver bullet for our economic woes. And it might be true: They employ precisely those people whose skills are otherwise in low demand. And those jobs are emerging in places beyond the coasts, where job creation has been difficult.’

They even shared this snazzy infographic proving it:

Of course, our favorite part is the shout out to manufacturing:

Great to know at SIS we’re not just saving the environment, we’re also saving jobs in the process. Who want’s to loan us their green cape for the week?

Green Manufacturer

Our friends at Nomaco Insulation were recently featured in the July/August issue of Green Manufacturer magazine! Check out how we saved them energy and cash here:

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How can facilities manage peak demand charges?

When I started working with SIS, one of the first things I learned about was peak demand pricing and the impact it has on a manufacturing facility’s utility bills.  These rates are levied differently by different utilities in disparate parts of the country, but the underlying methodology is still the same.  A peak demand period is retroactively determined every month and any power consumed during this window is billed at a much higher amount than the normal rate.  The critical component of this concept for facility managers is contained in that word retroactively.  At the time of the peak hour, neither the utility nor the facility has any idea it is going on.  Only after the data is reviewed at the end of the month can the peak time period be determined.

Obviously, the nature of this situation does not allow a manager to effectively prepare for the increased cost, and potentially adjust operations accordingly.  I recently read a series of articles on Facilitiesnet about the concept of demand response, and how managers are attempting to proactively prepare facility operations in anticipation of a demand response call from their local facility providers.

Organizations are not just looking at demand response as a way to contain costs, but also as a part of their larger sustainability plans.  Typically, that requires an organization to understand its load profiles.  “Loads occurring at peak times can be shifted, and soon facility managers can do this without considering demand response calls,” says Lindsay Audin, president of Energywiz, Inc.

In an effort to help facilities schedule these load shifting periods, SIS has developed the capability to notify managers days in advance of a potential peak event through the website coincidentPEAK.  Warnings can be issued as many as 10 days in advance, with confirmations provided 3 days prior to a potential peak demand episode.  An electric utility load management program typically provides little more than a 15 minute warning.

With advanced notification provided by SIS, a manufacturer can effectively plan a production schedule so that operations are not interrupted, and utility costs are significantly reduced at the same time.  A pilot program implemented with a foam insulation manufacturer has trimmed nearly $45,000 from that company’s electric bill in the past 4 months.  Imagine what an effective load management program can do for your company!

Water Use = Energy

We recently saw this image from GE ecomagination and thought about what the numbers might look like when you applied this metric to process water used in manufacturing.

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All we have to do is benchmark?

Yep…just knowing how your facility’s baseline stacks up against others can save you up to 5% without investing one dime.   At SIS we’ve seen the power of exposing data to associates working in a factory…by just seeing that their factory still carried an electrical load of 200kW, even at shutdown, they were able to shed another 100kW by just paying a little more attention to systems that needed to be shut off.

There is a great piece in a recent Greentech Media blog that highlights a recent report from our friends at Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room.  Check out the report and check out these quotes from the blog about the energy efficiency market…

The market is expected to reach more than $100 billion by 2017, more than a 50 percent increase from today, according to Pike Research. A study by IMT found that a national benchmarking and disclosure policy could reduce energy costs by approximately $18 billion by 2020.

Energy efficiency is smart business and a good investment…

IMT estimates that benchmarking could generate more than $7.8 billion in private investment in energy efficiency through 2020, yielding up to $3 in savings for every dollar invested.

While SIS firmly believes that most of our sustainability goals can be met with existing technology, under existing regulations it is always good to see local governments take energy efficiency seriously by mandating energy benchmarking…sort of like getting your car regularly inspected to maintain your license plate reregistration.

Philadelphia recently joined a growing list of states and cities to mandate energy benchmarking and disclosure for commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet.

 

Let’s hope this timeline is conservative!

 

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Infographics Inspiration

We love infographics and good design at SIS…so we never miss an opportunity to share what we’re seeing in the market.  Here’s a very interesting look at your utility bill as an infographic that we found in a recent Fast Company piece.   Our friends at Plotwatt are kicking butt by giving you a real time energy bill that cleanly shows how you are using power.

Problem is…this infographic is for a $34 utility bill…at SIS we’re seeing utility bills in factories of over $50,000 and these facilities would greatly benefit from a utility bill like this.  We’ve seen the power of clean data and how it can help reduce energy consumption by thousands of dollars…now that makes an impact.

Our friends at NEST always do a great job explaining tech with their infographics…way to use a popsicle to make me hungry while I think about saving energy.

 

Going Green Earns Green, Hard Cash

As the presidential election rapidly approaches, there is a huge debate over the state of our economy, particularly in reference to government subsidies and job creation. The good news is that going green may be the key to staving off the American economic apocalypse, and just what this country needs to create jobs, and earn companies green hard cash.

As a recent infographic by created by the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass illustrates, green tech industries like smart grid, wind, solar, biomass, and building retrofits each create more jobs than coal and natural gas combined.

We recently heard a critique of the of this infographic that went as follows, ‘How many tax payers does it take to get a million dollars? If we assume the average tax payer earns $50,000 x 25% = $12,500…$1,000,000/$12,500=80 people. So it takes about 80 paying taxes to “create” 14 solar jobs in a start-up company that may fail.’

The problem with this argument is that it ignores the significant governmental subsidies traditional energy industries like coal and natural gas are already receiving. According to the Environmental Law Institute, over the 7 year study period, over $72.5B was invested in fossil fuel companies as a result of government subsidies. By comparison, only $29.5B in federal subsidies was invested in clean tech industries. (Source: http://www.eli.org/pdf/Energy_Subsidies_Black_Not_Green.pdf)

In other words, it takes 1/2 as much money to create 5x as many jobs in the green tech sector as compared to traditional fossil fuels.

SIS has known for a long time that going green can save companies green cash. In fact, we founded our business in North Carolina on this principle. Since our inception last year, we have already saved Nomaco $114K over a 6 month period by working with them to implement sustainability upgrades including more efficient lighting tech and peak shaving practices. By our critic’s logic that is 2 extra tax paying jobs, or in our case 3 full time jobs, and 6 part-time workers.

While we’ve known for a while that going green goes hand in hand with being fiscally responsible, it is great to see this knowledge shared an applied on a more national level.

Why you should be googling gasification right now

Technically speaking gasification is a “thermo-chemical process in which carbonaceous feedstocks such as coal, petro-coke, or biomass are converted into a gas consisting of hydrogen and carbon monoxide under oxygen depleted, high pressure high-heat, and/or steam conditions,” but the reality is it is a process by which almost any waste product can be turned into electricity or fuel.   You read that correctly, nearly any waste product.  That means that trash that gets sent to landfills (which catch fire often enough that there is a company called Landfill Fire Control Inc, hog waste that sits in lagoons and could potentially contaminate our water supply, sawdust from lumber mills, used tires, and almost anything else you can think of can be turned into diesel fuel.   The real question behind this alchemy that you should be asking yourself, assuming you believe the science, is this technology commercially viable and if so what could that mean for our economy?

The answer to the first part is yes, though not well known gasification has been around since the 1800’s and has been considered commercially viable as a refining process for over 50 years.  The answer to the second part is nearly immeasurable because in order to full take advantage of the available feedstock you would have to build small distributed gasification plants onsite.  That would mean that farmers would get paid for their animal waste, lumber mills for their saw dust, and landfills for their trash onsite.

Theoretically speaking we should never cap another landfill ever and neighborhoods should be able to pool their trash in order to produce their own electricity.

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VC Corner – Meet our investors

When we first started on our crusade to revitalize American manufacturing – improving efficiency, cutting wasteful spending, and creating jobs – Acorn Innovestmentshad our back. Their encouragement has played a huge role in our success and continued growth. It doesn’t hurt that they are invested in green technologies for the long haul either.In addition to their support for SIS, Acorn has backed several other successful eco-ventures and manufacturing oriented businesses including:

PlotWatt – A 2011 GE Ecomagination Challenge winner, PlotWatt’s technology helping people reduce their energy bills by providing customized money-saving recommendations based on smart-meter data.

GreenSky Wind Systems – A NC-based manufacturer and provider of silent small wind turbines, GreenSky provides energy solutions straight out of a Jetsons commercial; their elegant, powerful turbines are engineered for silent, vibration-free operation.

School House – A socially conscious, collegiate fashion brand, School House is dedicated    to its ‘living wage manufacturing mission’ expanding US fashion manufacturing jobs in NC and beyond.

Raleigh is raising the manufacturing roof

‘More than half of the nation’s major markets are experiencing an upswing in manufacturing activity….’ – Triangle Business Journal

At SIS we are doing our part to help the NC manufacturing eco-system, helping companies like Nomaco upgrade their facilities and reduce their operating costs. Looks like we chose a strong market…‘[Cont.] Raleigh is one of the cities to see an increase, adding 200 more manufacturing jobs in 2011 than in the previous year.’

Know of any manufacturing facilities in NC that could benefit from our cost saving tech? Message us.