Over the last year or so, GM Vacs has been helped by specialists from Groundwork Oldham and Rochdale, with funding from the ENWORKS resource efficiency programme, to reduce its operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
These advisers carried out a comprehensive on-site review to find ways of using energy, fuel, water, materials and residual waste streams more effectively.
Because GM Vacs was replacing a lot of plastic parts during the refurbishment process, a lot of plastic was being sent away in skips to landfill.
The ENWORKS review uncovered an opportunity to save £8,000 a year straight away, simply by segregating out the plastic waste and selling on any parts with retail value, rather than throwing them in the skip.
The advisers also carried out a free survey of the compressed air system and found six different leaks. Fixing them reduced the company’s annual electricity bill by £780 and saved more than four tonnes of CO2e per year.
One of the compressors was also running inefficiently when the advisers visited. It was 20 years old and in use for up to 75 per cent of an average working day.
GM Vacs was advised to replace it with a variable speed drive compressor, which optimises energy consumption. The equipment cost £4,000 but it had been due for replacement anyway and the upfront costs will pay back in about three years, through savings made on energy bills.
The company has been monitoring the resulting savings. So far, they have averaged about £100 a month, or £1,200 and nearly seven tonnes of CO2e a year.
Vending machines on site have also been fitted with timers, so that they automatically switch off when the business premises are closed.
ENWORKS also supported GM Vacs with investigating the potential for a solar photovoltaic installation on site and a pilot installation was carried out on one of the warehouse roofs. This was successful, so the array was then extended to another nearby building.
The advisers also provided advice on the Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) incentive and helped the company to complete an application in time to be eligible for a rate of 43.5 pence for every kilowatt-hour of energy generated on site. This has helped to save over £2,000 a year in mains electricity.
Finally, an old gas boiler providing water for the factory and office bathrooms was replaced with a newer model. It is more energy efficient and it features a 300 litre storage tank for water that has been pre-heated with solar energy from the roof and early indications are that it will save another £550 to £650 per year.
Commenting on the savings made so far, GM Vacs director, Roger Walton, said: “The support has helped us to pay more attention to resource efficiency improvements that we wouldn’t otherwise have done so keenly. The year-on-year cost savings achieved to date will also ensure a continuing focus on energy saving projects across the business.”
Yet to come
Other recommendations that have yet to be implemented include a plan to link up with local companies who use plastic as a raw material, to further reduce waste collection and disposal costs. This would save £3,200 a year and stop as much as 250 tonnes of plastic waste from going to landfill.
A further £250 a year could be saved by fitting aerators to about 10 taps on site, to restrict flow and reduce the amount of water used. This would save over 100 m3 of mains water per year.
The company is also working hard to encourage more fuel efficient driving in its fleet of delivery vehicles.
Altogether, these opportunities could save GM Vacs £3,450 a year and another four tonnes or more of CO2e, which will all help to boost its profitability and to further improve its environmental credentials.
Case study published on 10 July 2013