Climate Change and the Manufacturing Industry

Teresa Madaleno

As a society we have a serious addiction to carbon. While most of us know that we have to lower our own carbon footprint and many even take measures at home to reduce, reuse and recycle, a lot of people don’t think about how the products we enjoy every day may be contributing to the problem.

The greenhouse gases a manufacturing facility emits can fall into two different categories, direct and indirect. Direct is the GHG produced at the facility itself. Indirect is the use of the facilities energy, which is often originating off-site.

Research indicates that 19 percent of direct global emissions comes from the manufacturing industry and another eleven percent is the power manufacturers use to produce consumer goods.

Unfortunately, in many manufacturing areas, factories are not climate controlled and depend on external weather to keep workers comfortable. Rising temperatures of course are impacting productivity in these areas, such as China and India.

Today businesses that are located in hurricane prone zones are having to secure backup power options to help keep work moving. Others are scrambling for ways to deal with overheated equipment. These manufacturers are forced to think about interior climate control for their factories.

In North America many of the carbon emissions from factories has to do with equipment, specifically inefficient machinery and power usage. The point is, between climate challenges and our huge appetite for energy, we have a really big dilemma. The good news is that measures can be taken to lessen energy  usage and cost for industry, as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.

What to do about factory GHG?

If you manage a manufacturing facility consider the following or if you know someone who is struggling with how to handle energy usage within a facility, pass this on.

Monitoring – assess, measure, monitor how much energy your company generates. You can’t develop a strategy to reduce carbon emissions until you know how much energy you are using and losing. Turn to an energy auditor for expert guidance. Sparta Group has some of the most qualified energy auditors who can conduct a comprehensive assessment of your facility and tell you how you can save energy and money.
Reduce energy usage – take note of simple changes you can make to ensure you’re using energy efficiently. For example, do you have machinery that can be turned off when not in use? Do you have windows that can be better sealed to prevent loss of heat?
Reward employees – reward workers for putting environment first and bringing energy savings to your attention.
Reduce fossil fuel use – educate yourself about the alternatives to fossil fuel. Consider switching to sustainable energy sources.

One of the worst things manufacturers can do is ignore their carbon dioxide emissions or declare that it is a losing battle. Thanks to advances in technology, many solutions exist today and while it can seem like a monumental task to address GHG and energy usage, businesses that do act, will tell you it was the “smart” way to go.