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Saving Energy, Reducing Waste

Jan. 5, 2006- For the past four years, the University of Utah’s Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center has helped manufacturers conserve energy, reduce waste and increase productivity. This month, the center passed a significant milepost as it performed its 100th free and confidential assessment.

On Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006 Martin Door Manufacturing in Salt Lake City became the 100th company to have its energy use, waste and-or productivity evaluated by the University of Utah engineering faculty members and students who operate the center. Martin Door is a family-owned company that has been in business since 1936. It specializes in making safe, high-quality garage doors.

“As part of Martin Door Manufacturing’s quest for continual improvement, we have partnered with the University of Utah’s Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center to assess the company’s use of energy” and its waste production, says Larry Martin, the company’s vice president of manufacturing. “The goal, of course, is to increase efficiency. The University of Utah is in the unique position of having the expertise in this area, and does these assessments as a service to the community and the nation. Martin Door Manufacturing appreciates the university’s help in this endeavor and looks forward to successful recommendations and findings.”

There are 26 industrial assessment teams nationwide. According to the University of Utah Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center website, these 26 teams have made efficiency and productivity recommendations that have saved American companies more than $700 million, and have created or maintained 1.5 million industrial jobs.

In its previous 99 assessments, the Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center estimates it has saved the 99 companies a total of $9.6 million, reduced their sewage output by 112 million gallons, reduced their garbage production by 3 million cubic meters and saved 118 megawatt-hours of power, says Christy Webster, the center’s assistant director. That amount of power is equal to the electricity used each month by 115,600 residents of the United States.

“It doesn’t matter if a company makes snack foods or sensitive electronics, every manufacturer has opportunities for energy savings and waste reduction,” Webster adds. “This program helps all of us by helping keep our manufacturers in business.”

Melinda Krahenbuhl, the program director, says: “Energy management is a cornerstone for the Utah economic growth. We have made it to 100 local facilities and are excited for the next 100 facilities.”

Utah’s Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center performs assessments in a four-step process. First, a team member from the center conducts a survey of the company. This may require copies of the company’s previous year’s electric, gas, water and waste-disposal bills in addition to a brief description of the manufacturing process.

Second, center representatives conduct a one-day visit to the company to collect energy, productivity and waste data. Third, a report is sent to the company within 60 days of the visit. This report details recommendations from the center, including implementation costs and payback. The fourth step takes place six to nine months later when a Utah center team member makes a follow-up call to the company to determine which, if any, recommendations were implemented.

To qualify for an assessment, a company must manufacture a product and must have annual utility bills of at least $100,000.

An assessment by the University of Utah center benefits more than just the company. The university maintains a practical focus for its engineering curriculum as university students receive valuable hands-on experience. Taxpayers also benefit when industry conserves energy and reduces environmental impacts.

The Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center uses teams of University of Utah engineering faculty and students to perform the assessments. Students from mechanical, civil, electrical and chemical engineering, as well as bioengineering, have the opportunity to gain real-world knowledge and experience by interning at the center.

Students are trained in assessment procedures, products and safety by experienced team members and a professional advisor. Students learn to collect data and develop assessment reports. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Industrial Technologies, a recent survey states that one out of every four graduates of the nation’s industrial assessment centers stays in the field and continues to assist manufacturers in saving energy and reducing costs.

The University of Utah center is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It also works closely with the Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now program, the Utah Office of Energy Services, the university’s Utah Engineering Experiment Station and the Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

For more information on the University of Utah’s Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center please call (801) 581-4188 or visit