Sustainability is top-of-mind at MasterBrand Cabinets, the largest cabinet manufacturer in North America, and the company has achieved impressive energy savings through smart lighting and equipment upgrades.
Reducing Energy Consumption in Indiana and Oregon
In just the last two years, in fact, energy consumption at two of the largest facilities -- Goshen, Indiana and Grant Pass, Oregon -- has been reduced by more than 4,200,000 kWh, saving close to $300,000 per year.
At the Goshen facility, interior lights were upgraded to high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures, and outdoor security and parking lot lights were upgraded to LED fixtures. This conversion saves more than 1,245,000 kWh of lighting energy - a 54% reduction - each year.
Fixture Changes and Motion Sensors Contribute to Savings
In addition to replacing fixtures, motion sensors that turn lights on and off have also contributed to energy savings. If there is no activity in an area for ten minutes, the lights will automatically turn off. When activity resumes, the lights turn on again.
The energy-savings program has also improved productivity and product quality, according to Willard Robertson, senior director, environmental, for MasterBrand Cabinets.
Energy Updates Yield Improved Employee Satisfaction
“Not only did we realize quantifiable energy efficiency through these efforts, but the brighter environments from the new fluorescent lights are credited with improving employee satisfaction, productivity and product quality,” said Robertson. “The settings are nicer places to work every day and the extra light makes it much easier to identify manufacturing defects before they leave the facility.”
The Grant Pass facility has also made huge strides in reducing energy consumption, at close to 3,000,000 kWh and more than $150,000 annual savings. This was accomplished by re-lamping the facilities and by replacing or fixing some equipment to achieve higher energy efficiency. For example, air compressors, which are used in many of the cabinet-making processes, consume a great deal of energy. MasterBrand Cabinets’ environmental department launched an auditing effort to identify and fix leaks that were allowing compressed air, and therefore energy, to escape.
Another approach the company is taking to save energy is to look at more efficient methods for mixing the materials used to coat wood cabinet surfaces. The compressed air powered mixers currently in use were designed to operate on a continuous basis, but newer electric agitators are designed with timers to allow intermittent operation.
“The use of compressed air for the mixers is not as energy-efficient, so we are testing switching to electric agitators that have timers so they don’t have to operate 24 hours a day,” said Robertson.
The energy reduction strategy and equipment improvement project is also supported by an employee awareness campaign.
Monthly Communications Generate Energy Savings Awareness
“We recently started to send out monthly communications on various environmental topics to generate awareness throughout MasterBrand,” said Robertson. “In addition to letting employees know about the progress, we want everyone to feel as proud as we do for doing our part to benefit both the company and the environment.”