Plant energy assessments are comprehensive evaluations of the actual performance of a plant’s energy using systems and equipment compared against the designed performance level or the industry best practice. The difference between observed performance and “best practice” is the potential for energy and cost savings. ENERGY STAR partners have found that conducting plant assessments is vital to a strong energy management program, for without them, it is difficult to continuously improve energy efficiency and demonstrate savings.
Energy assessments help managers to:
- Identify actions for improving energy performance;
- Prioritize projects; and
- Track progress.
They are most effective when part of a strategic corporate energy management program. Corporate energy programs are ideal for replicating the savings opportunities identified through assessments at other facilities. Information can be shared among plants to multiply savings. Read more about the role of plant assessments as part of a strategic energy program in the ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management.
Energy assessments may be conducted by internal staff, external energy service professionals, or a combination of both.
Regardless of the type of assessment, it is recommended that the team represent varied expertise, including: process engineers, maintenance experts, systems managers, energy specialists, etc.
Support from outside a company can be helpful and provide missing expertise (e.g. compressed air systems expert). More information on outside service providers is available at Industrial service and product providers.
Plant assessments vary in their focus and depth of involvement based on the program needs and resources available to energy managers. For more information on various levels of audit detail, view this presentation: Assessing Plant Performance for Energy Savings
Energy Treasure Hunts
An Energy Treasure Hunt is a form of assessment that engages employees to identify low cost or no cost energy saving opportunities by focusing on improving the day-to-day operations of existing equipment. Unlike traditional energy assessments that typically rely on outside experts, a two to three day Energy Treasure Hunt engages internal cross functional staff to find the opportunities. By using internal resources, the Energy Treasure Hunt process helps build energy teams and internal processes for managing energy with a focus on continuous improvement. To learn more about Energy Treasure Hunts, download the ENERGY STAR guidebook, Energy Treasure Hunt Guide: Simple Steps to Finding Energy Savings.
Sources for assistance
The U.S. Department of Energy offers assessment assistance to qualified industrial plants through its Industrial Assessment Centers.