Lean and Green: Implementing Green Initiatives - December 2015

Lean initiatives often include reducing one’s energy consumption, sometimes referred to as being “Green.” Being ‘green’ is a ubiquitous term to many. What does it mean? How does one know?

By implementing green initiatives you can reduce costs and do more with less expensive resources (electricity, water, heating fuels). Green initiatives can include: using efficient lighting where and only when needed (more on this later); minimizing water consumption to the task at hand; charging lift truck equipment batteries when lift equipment is available and during timeframes when off-peak utility rate apply; operating the heating and cooling system when areas are occupied at their peak efficiency.

It also includes reducing the amount of trash your organization sends to landfills (at a cost) by recycling the materials where others pay you for your trash; some companies will purchase and install compacting equipment in your facility if you agree to use their services for recycling. These and other initiatives can reduce your utility and operating expenses which, in turn, can help you be more competitive.

If you are building a new building, green initiatives could include orienting the building on the site to maximize or minimize the impact of weather: maximizing solar gain in winter for some regions and minimizing solar gain during the summer months. Designing ‘natural areas’ to be self-sustaining to reduce the need for grass cutting, routine watering and lawn service; or, recovering rain water for secondary uses (landscape watering, flushing toilets), which both helps our environment and the company’s bottom-line.

Lighting technology has made significant strides in the last 10 years. Fixtures for exterior lights are directed to the area needing the light, not to light up the night sky. Today warehouse lights have occupancy sensors to turn on the lights when someone enters the work area and turn them off after a few minutes of no activity. Low cost, high efficiency fluorescent light fixtures (T5’s and T8’s, here’s a video of the differences) have replaced the big and bulky high pressure sodium and metal halide fixtures of the past and operate at a fraction of the cost. LED technology is becoming more affordable as technology improves and for some applications, is a cost-effective option.

We plan to have future articles that will explore these topics so please send your questions, experiences or comments so we may address any topic which may be of interest to you.

 

– Scott Mullennix, Crimson & Co US

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