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Green Business Strategies That Save Money

October 2011

The Insider’s Perspective

Searching for great companies doing their share environmentally, I95 BUSINESS found the Harford County Green Business Network and three companies willing to share their green ideas.

Klein’s Shoprite, McCormick & Co. Inc. and Frederick Ward Associates, Inc. represent very different industries with commitments to green business. To these companies, “being green,” means much more than recycling and quick-fix light bulb changes. It’s a long-term commitment to sustainable business practices that save both the environment and improve revenues.

Klein’s Shoprite

Efficient Grocer

At Klein’s Shoprite Vice President Michael Klein believes that green business is not always about saving money. Klein says, “It’s just as much about saving the environment.” He emphasizes a long-term return on green investments and notes that green initiatives are neither cheap, nor free.

Recycling: Klein’s Shoprite is part of Wakefern Food Cooperative in New Jersey. From the consumer side, the grocer boasts convenient, plastic recycling bag collection bins in all locations. By sorting and recycling all high-quality cardboard from grocery suppliers, the Wakefern warehouse system lends a hand as cardboard cases are flattened, bailed and sent back for sale to recycling.

Efficient Lighting: Retrofitting product refrigeration cases with LED lighting is a major priority for Klein’s Shoprite. Based on case age and replacement cost, Klein explains that more efficient lighting is possible with specific rebates. BGE subsidizes fixture expenses and Klein’s reviews the anticipated energy savings.

“In the past three years, we have retrofitted all stores with high-efficiency lighting that uses less energy and produces high quality light,” Klein remarks.

The stores also utilize time clock management for lighting in the store and parking field. However, Klein mentions that the grocer incurs significant outflow of capital (cash) for material and installation for energy efficient lighting.

Water Reclaim: Klein’s Shoprite generates hot water via heat reclaim, a by-product of refrigeration systems. While not ample enough to provide all hot water needs, Klein notes that it certainly helps with the supply. Heat and hot water reclaim systems are additional costs and are subject to installation fees plus frequent maintenance.

White Roof: All Klein’s Shoprite stores have white roofs installed to keep stores cooler in the summer. The white, Duraplast rubber surface and high level of insulation on the roof deck are more expensive alternatives to traditional roofing and also require regular inspections and maintenance.

Energy Consumption: While energy is a major operational cost for Klein’s Shoprite, the management team keeps the public demands for energy and hours of store operations strongly in mind. Energy contracts are competitively bid for electric and gas consumption while usage is recorded and reviewed on a regular cycle. Procuring energy management consultants Enernoc, the grocer relies on third-party energy services by receiving quotes from suppliers.

Solid Waste: Klein says that reducing solid waste in the grocery industry means saving more money. Fewer discarded products through solid waste means less need for landfill or solid waste disposal programs. The company’s perishable inventory control is very important since the end result is lower solid waste disposal expenses.

Clean Equals Green: Klein says that the company maintains a quality and assurance program that reviews all levels of store conditions. Clean facilities and quality controls in safe food handling are handled at store level in each location, he says. Keeping a clean work environment leads to minimal waste.

“Much of what we do is as much about keeping CLEAN as much as trying to be GREEN,” Klein advises. “This ties into the Q&A inspections and adhering to good practices and procedures in general operations and property management.”

McCormick & Co. 

Solar Leaders

At McCormick & Co., Jeff Blankman, sustainable manufacturing manager, boasts an extremely lean manufacturing bottom line. Blankman’s role evolved out of successful corporate sustainability projects, and he’s committed full-time to energy savings. McCormick’s results are phenomenal: 17 percent reduction in energy, 22 percent reduction in solid waste, 26 percent reduction in water, and 23 percent reduction in green house gases.

McCormick’s sustainability plan is gaining focus as the company strives to offset energy’s financial and environmental costs. As society has placed greater value in saving the environment, McCormick customers are also more interested, Blankman says. “Sustainability is in its infancy but it’s growing,” he explains. The company’s areas of focus are energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water and waste reduction.

Solar Energy: McCormick has installed solar panels at their buildings in Belcamp, Hunt Valley and Sparks. These solar panel projects represent 20 percent of the entire solar capacity in Maryland. Using a power of purchase agreement with Constellation, over $8 million in solar panels was installed in Belcamp in 2010, covering approximately 8 acres or 8,000 Solar World roof-mounted panels. Companies looking to solar should note that BGE requires a 60,000-square-foot roof for a solar panel project.

“The State of Maryland has very good incentives for solar,” Blankman advises. “The biggest payback [for companies] is energy initiatives.”

In addition to solar, McCormick has mounted an Energy Star reflective roof at Belcamp with proper insulation. Blankman notes that the white surface is reflecting the sun’s rays in the summer to keep the building cooler and save energy costs.

Reuse vs. Recycle: Cardboard boxes are reused vs. recycled at buys the boxes from McCormick. “The savings is pretty substantial, and it’s in the six figures each year,” he says. In addition to cardboard, Blankman says that more companies are reusing plastic since it’s valuable to keep plastics out of the environment and landfills.

While McCormick & Co. continues to push the envelope of design for more sustainable packaging, Blankman looks to the future of lightweight plastic bottles, reducing the box flap sizes and higher recycled content boxes and cartons, as well as thinner gauge stretch film wraps.

Waste Heat Recovery: At McCormick, heat is recycled from products using the pasteurizer. A standard practice in dairy to capture the heat, this initiative has resulted in an impressive 80 percent reduction.

Costs of Sustainability Projects: Blankman says the key to sustainability projects is getting decision makers involved. “As far as C-level buy in, companies need to get quick wins and then the program has viability,” he advises. “While most companies ask, how much will this cost?, the opportunities for cost savings are never-ending.”

Since he’s participated in sustainability projects for three years, Blankman continues to find more room for streamlining. With energy consumption being the most expensive and biggest environmental issue, companies like McCormick are finding the cost/benefit of taking projects beyond recycling and waste reduction, which traditionally get employees involved.

Frederick Ward Associates

Building Healthier

Chuck Cooper, project manager for Frederick Ward Associates, Inc. (FWA) is an environmentalist who enjoys the Harford Green Business Network as a positive resource for education and networking. FWA promotes the numerous benefits of green building: healthier inhabitants, better environment, tax incentives, rebates and lower insurance premiums.

Green Analysis: FWA provides sustainability assessments to clients in the form of analysis of offices, corporate campuses, schools or other structures. The analysis often includes energy usage, utility bills, building envelope, HVAC and plumbing, lighting strategies, renewable energy options, solar options, and corporate carbon footprint.

“We attempt to incorporate sustainable design practices into every project at some level, whether they are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) registered (or use other green rating systems) or not,” Cooper reveals.

Renewable Energy Designs: FWA has designed several projects with renewable energy in mind. The company completed PV projects for the City of Bowie, designed and completed a solar array on a LEED for Homes project for Habitat for Humanity and completed the first commercial Wind Turbine project at Harford Glen Environmental Education Center. FWA also specifies geothermal/ ground source heat pumps and solar thermal systems when possible for projects.

LEED and Green Certified: With several LEED Accredited Professionals, LEED Green Associates and Certified Green Professionals on staff, FWA has designed various LEED Certified projects, including the first commercial (non-school or government building) in Harford County. FWA uses Energy Star appliances at their offices and in client projects and works on Energy Star-rated buildings as well.

Energy Conservation at FWA: FWA takes energy savings seriously at the Main Street, Bel Air headquarters. The company has changed most incandescent lamps to CFLs and dimmers are used. Occupancy sensors are placed at switches, and thermostats are programmed. FWA’s energy conservation measures are in place for printers, monitors and copiers in the office.

Greener Footprint: While Cooper notes that FWA’s sustainability initiatives started in 2008, a year of savings amounted to $10,000 off the previous year’s utility bill.

“In simply analyzing energy savings alone, [FWA] paid for the efforts we put into the initiative. That’s not to mention the better indoor air quality, employee pride and retention, savings from deleting disposable products, water savings, etc.,” Cooper remarks.

Check out Frederick Ward Associates’ blog for more ideas and updates on sustainability at I95