Randy Groff, the director of Facilities and Energy at Four Seasons Produce, Ephrata, Pa., had a problem—a common problem but an acute one. The electricity needed to keep Four Sea- sons Produce’s refrigerated warehouse cool was growing to be a major expense for the private company with tight margins, and Groff needed to find a way to reduce energy costs—and keep them down.
When Four Seasons Produce consolidated its operations in 2004 from six nearby buildings to one larger location, the new facility came with an unexpectedly high electric bill because of the type of refrigeration system put in place. For the next few years, Groff and his team tackled several one-off energy-improvement projects with the gains and management buy-in accelerating when utility rebates were available. Savings were notable, but Groff wanted to implement a culture of energy efficiency that wasn’t dependent on the availability of capital and wasn’t limited to him and his immediate team. Then he heard about 50001 Ready.In June 2017, Four Seasons Produce became the first facility recognized as “50001 Ready” by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Washington, D.C. The 50001 Ready program recognizes facilities in the U.S. that self-attest to conformance to the ISO 50001 Energy Management System standard.
An international standard that supports organizations in developing an energy-management system, ISO 50001 outlines a Plan-Do-Check-Act continuous-improvement process model for energy management, similar to ISO 9001 for Quality Management and ISO 14001 for Environmental Management. 50001 Ready is an expansion of the DOE’s efforts to support ISO 50001 adoption in the U.S. since the standard came into effect in 2011, building on DOE’s existing Superior Energy Performance (SEP) certification program. Whereas SEP adds an external data validation component for organizations that are already ISO 50001 certified, 50001 Ready is a free program targeting those organizations in the pre-certification stage by providing instructions, project-management tools and recognition, such as that achieved by Four Seasons Produce.
Like many operators of energy-intensive facilities, Groff has always been proactive in searching for support to reduce costs. In 2012, Four Seasons Produce participated in a continuous energy-improvement program with its local utility, which set the foundation for a culture of energy management by establishing an energy policy, energy team and energy-reporting model. Fast forward to 2017 when Groff saw the 50001 Ready program as a way to reinvigorate those energy-management processes put in place five years earlier but not always top of mind.
“Sustainability is something our top leadership cares a lot about,” Groff explains. “We want our customers and our associates to know what we are doing, and the 50001 Ready recognition helps us do that.”
At the center of the 50001 Ready program is the DOE’s newest software application—the 50001 Ready Navigator. Available free of charge on the Energy Department’s website, the Navigator divides the required elements of ISO 50001 into 25 tasks, organized into four themes:
- Energy Review
- Continual Improvement
- System Management
Resources to assist organizations in completing each task include summary checklists, extensive guidance highlighting best practices, worksheets and templates for download, and a video overview emphasizing the key points of the task. All of these resources are available on the website at any time. Users who sign up for a free account in the Navigator can also create implementation projects and track their team’s progress on the task dashboard, assign tasks to other team members, leave notes or links to shared files for the team, access help-desk resources and apply for DOE recognition when the project has been completed.
Four Seasons Produce anticipates ongoing engagement with the 50001 Ready Navigator will help the company identify additional no- and low-cost operational opportunities to reduce energy costs and keep improving its energy performance. Initial results have shown Four Seasons Produce reduced its energy intensity by nearly 2 percent in a year (2016) when its operations grew substantially. Groff found the Continual Improvement tasks to be especially impactful in ensuring that practices and lessons learned since the utility improvement program are continuing to be properly implemented and producing results.