JOHNSON CITY, TENN. – A long-term, comprehensive approach to efficiency and sustainability culminated this month with A. O. Smith’s manufacturing facility in Johnson City, Tenn., earning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification.
Johnson City is the first A. O. Smith facility awarded LEED certification. To achieve LEED certification, given by the U. S. Green Building Council, a facility’s operation and maintenance must meet specific standards in energy efficiency, environmentally responsible business practices, and maintaining a healthy work environment.
“This certification is the result of more than five years of work by the Johnson City team to reduce energy and water consumption, improve efficiency, and reduce cost,” said Ajita G. Rajendra, president and chief operating officer of A. O. Smith Corporation. “It demonstrates the team’s commitment to operating to world-class standards in every facet of the business.”
“Earning LEED certification of an existing building is a significant achievement because it’s generally easier to design these features into new construction,” observed Johnson City Director of Operations Andy Demski. “We knew our programs compared favorably with other plants; we wanted to see how good we were when measured by national standards.”
Among the short-term and long-term initiatives that enabled Johnson City to earn the LEED certification were:
• Reducing water usage for compressed air cooling by $80,000 per year;
• Reducing the annual water usage in restrooms by 25 percent per year;
• Efficient lighting and ventilation systems that resulted in annual electricity savings of more than $40,000;
• A “green” cleaning program that reduced chemical costs by $5,000;
• A long-term recycling program that has achieved cost savings of more than $30,000 per year.
In its submission to the Green Building Council, the plant listed its lighting and ventilation system and water usage programs as “innovative practices.” The Johnson City team customized a purchased software package to automate the building’s ventilation system. A series of 17 temperature sensors throughout the building enable staff to monitor and control the system to deliver improved efficiency.
The system has enabled the plant to reduce its energy consumption as well as the amount of water required for its air cooling compressors.
The lighting system in the facility, including the office area, has received a major upgrade over the last several years. In the factory, the team installed fixtures that last three times as long as conventional lighting, require less maintenance, and use less energy. The 400 overhead lights are connected to a lighting control system that monitors the entire overhead lighting system and reduces the number of lights illuminated based on the operation’s work schedule.
In the office area, Johnson City reduced the number of bulbs by 25 percent, installed more energy-efficient lighting, and installed motion sensors with timers. The sensors help reduce the amount of time lights are left on during off hours.
The Johnson City team plans to use the findings from the LEED certification process to identify new opportunities to save energy and money, according to John Dreher, manager of manufacturing engineering.
“From what we have learned from LEED, we expect to cut the amount of electricity used to compress air by $80,000 per year through improved monitoring and controls,” he noted. “We also expect to further reduce water usage by 50 percent through the use of recycled water in the facility.”
Earlier this year, the Johnson City facility earned an ENERGY STAR® rating, which ranks it among the top 25 percent of energy-efficient buildings in the U.S.
The 470,000-square-foot Johnson City facility manufactures residential and light commercial gas and electric water heaters.