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    Cookeville plant earns award for energy conservation

    Cookeville, TENN. (Wednesday, 15 August 2012)

    APCOM Inc.’s Cookeville, Tenn., plant is proof that by taking advantage of community resources, even a small facility can achieve big improvements—and big energy savings.

    Last year, the Cookeville plant—with help from the local Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, and the Tennessee Valley Authority—identified opportunities to significantly reduce electricity consumption as well as natural gas and water usage in the 54,500-square-foot facility.

    As a result of its efforts to conserve energy and resources, the plant and its 75 employees received the A. O. Smith Chairman’s Green Star Award during a special ceremony today.

    A. O. Smith created the Chairman’s Green Star Award in 2009 to encourage natural resource conservation efforts throughout the company. It is awarded to the plant that achieves the most year-over-year reductions in natural gas consumption, electricity usage, and water consumption. A total of 13 facilities worldwide were in competition to receive this year’s award.

    “Your experience is an excellent example of what can happen when a plant is open to help from the community,” Paul W. Jones, A. O. Smith Corporation chairman and chief executive officer, said in making the presentation. “There are dozens of these programs available to companies throughout the United States, and I applaud how you were able to make use of them to improve your operation and positively impact the environment.”

    Cookeville took advantage of the Tennessee 3-Star Energy Initiatives for Manufacturing Program. The no-cost program provides small manufacturers with access to engineering resources that conduct extensive evaluations of the facility’s use of energy and make recommendations for energy-saving improvements.

    Cookeville Operations Manager Wayne Key credits Lillian Hartgrove, the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber’s vice president of economic development, for making the plant aware of the incentive programs.

    “I was personally aware of the programs for residential energy assessments,” Key explained, “but Lillian really opened our eyes as to what was available for manufacturers.”

    In addition to the assessment, which was conducted by engineering students from Tennessee Technological University under the direction of Glenn Cunningham, PhD, PE, CEM, the plant also took advantage of TVA’s Enhanced Growth Credit program, a rebate program offered to facilities that install energy-saving equipment.

    The 3-Star Assessment identified two major opportunities for energy savings: the plant’s older, inefficient lighting system and a heating system, which was installed in 1982, as well as other cost-saving ideas.

    Key and Randy Stamps, the plant’s lead maintenance technician, elected to pursue upgrading the plant’s lighting and heating immediately. Working with a local outside supplier, they installed new, high-efficiency light fixtures throughout the production and office areas of the plant. “We replaced every light in the facility, even exit sign lights and outdoor illumination,” Key observed. “The new lights deliver twice the lumens as the old while using substantially less electricity.”

    The lighting project was started in 2011 and completed in 2012, and has contributed to a nearly 50 percent reduction in the lighting portion of the Cookeville plant’s electricity bill. Key expects a one-quarter year payback on the project.

    Similar savings were achieved by replacing Cookeville’s old heating system with new, high-efficiency infrared heating equipment. The new units deliver the same amount of heat while requiring less than one-third the energy as the old equipment.

    Other projects around the plant are contributing to additional energy savings. The Cookeville team replaced an older, natural gas fired parts washer with a new, high-efficiency unit, reducing natural gas and water consumption. They are in the process of modifying hydraulic units inside the plant to vent heat outdoors, reducing strain on the plant’s HVAC system.

    The team’s efforts include making employees aware of opportunities to save energy and conserve resources. “We are reminding employees to shut down the power to equipment that is not running,” Key said. “Equipment that is in the idle mode still draws electricity and that can run into thousands of dollars of cost over a year’s time.”

    The Cookeville plant manufactures a wide range of components for residential and commercial water heaters, including cold-headed spuds, pipe nipples, steel parts for pilot burners, and other specialized stampings.

    A. O. Smith Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heating equipment and boilers, offering a comprehensive line featuring the best-known brands in North America and China, as well as water purification products for residential and light commercial applications. A. O. Smith, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., employs approximately 10,500 people at operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, China, and the Netherlands.

    Cookeville plant earns award for energy conservation (PDF)

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