Energy Efficiency Case Studies
A Colorado company founded in 1968, Value Plastics has emerged as a premier
OEM (original equipment manufacturer) supplier of precision plastic components
to both the medical and industrial sectors. The Value Plastics product line is
designed, manufactured, and distributed from its Fort Collins facility.
In 1995, Value Plastics was looking to build a new facility, and the city of
Fort Collins was looking for a company interested in constructing a model,
highly energy-efficient small manufacturing building. As energy efficiency is
part of the ethic of Value Plastics and its founder, this was a perfect match.
The 41,000 square-foot building, home to 45 employees, was designed with
energy efficiency in mind. Daylighting has been employed throughout the
building, with some 60% of the structure being glass. Interior walls and
ceilings are light-colored, which assists with natural light diffusion and
minimizes the amount of electricity needed for lighting work areas and other
A Johnson Controls energy management system (EMS) was integrated into the
initial construction of the facility. This computer-controlled system was not
effectively used until 2000, when it was upgraded and began overseeing energy
use in the building.
On the building operations side, the EMS works to ensure that HVAC and
lighting systems are operating efficiently. Air-handling units and chillers are
run on an occupied/unoccupied schedule, running only between the hours of 6:00
a.m. and 4:30 p.m. With approximately 70% of Value Plastic's processing being
done outside of these hours, additional efficiencies are gained.
Cooling is accomplished through a double unit, lead/lag chiller system. The
lag chiller tracks the lead chiller, coming on-line only if the lead chiller
can't meet the building's cooling demand. This double unit system needs only one
electric chiller pump to meet cooling needs. The lead and lag chillers are
rotated once per month to reduce wear-and-tear and for maintenance purposes.
On the processing side, air compressors that were once vented into interior
work spaces are now vented through the roof, significantly reducing cooling
demand. Over the years, Value Plastics has moved to ENERGY STAR® Labeled
electric molding machines which allow the chilled water used in the molding
process to be recycled within the machine, maximizing the use of the water while
lowering the demand on the facility's chillers. And the lead/lag chiller system,
described above, ensures that, should one of the chillers go down to a
mechanical failure, production will not need to be halted while repairs are
Value Plastics has invested approximately $30,000 in energy
efficiency-related upgrades to its facility and operations since 1995. Annual
energy and cost savings are estimated at 97,200 kWh and $4,400 respectively,
with a simple payback period of 7 years. The firm joined the
Fort Collins Climate Wise program in
By aggressively pursuing energy efficiency in both its facility and
processing operations, Value Plastics has been able to add more processing and
computer equipment without increasing its electricity use. Value Plastics
continues to investigate additional energy efficiency opportunities, and
considers its efforts a work in progress, one that will continue to benefit both
Colorado's environment and the company's bottom line.