Success Stories

 

WOI Improves Manufacturing Competitiveness through “Lean and Green”

Through a tightly-focused and intensive program facilitated by Waste Reduction Partners in 2015, Watauga Opportunities, Incorporated, (WOI) improved productivity at a major medical production line by 25% and made changes to achieve an immediate reduction in energy costs. “This process has really energized our workforce,” said Michael Maybee, WOI’s CEO. “It was an intensive two days’ work, and to see the immediate results of our work has been truly rewarding – in every sense of the word.” WOI is a workforce development social enterprise which specializes in contract manufacturing including plastic thermoforming, packaging, and labeling of medical devices delivered either sterile or nonsterile.  Being registered ISO 13485 and ISO 9001, WOI is focused on continuous improvement opportunities in its manufacturing and quality programs.  The Leaning event addressed the multifaceted objectives of a vocation employer achieving both the delivery of important value-added manufacturing services as well as social enterprise workforce mission. (Used with permission, MARC media release)

 

Lean & Green Pilots Uncover Value - Hendrick Collision Center, Cary, NC 

During February 2013, Waste Reduction Partner completed a Lean & Green review with Hendrick Collision Center in Cary, North Carolina.  The EPA-funded Lean & Green effort included a facility-wide greening assessment addressing solid waste reduction, energy and water efficiency strategies for the facility. This assessment was followed up with an intensive one-day value stream mapping event for the site’s painting operations.  The valued-added outcomes for this Value Stream Mapping (VSM) event were fantastic.  The company’s review team, including WRP and NCDEACS staff, identified $855,000 in value-added potential, including $148,000 in cost savings and $707,000 in capacity improvements to the painting activities at the site.  The general manager was thrilled with the assistance and plans to apply this Lean & Green VSM technique on another department.  He has already begun to implement some of the environmental suggestions. (Used with client permission.)

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind Goes Beyond Recycling, Winston-Salem, NC

Starting in 2012, Waste Reduction Partners engineers worked with Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind to identify a recycling outlet for mixed textile scraps from their mattress making and sewing operations.  WSIFB reduced waste volumes sent to the landfill by almost 300 tons per year and are saving more than $15,800 annually which exceeded the WRP savings estimates.  WSIFB’s leadership recognized that this recycling was good but had a bigger goal to reduce the generation of the scrap fabric in the first place.  WRP staff led a two-day pilot Lean & Green – Value Stream Mapping event on one high volume mattress quilting line.  The cross-function team of WSIFB staff identified $15,500 in operational cost savings and $350,000 in future sales savings for the product examined.  WRP energy engineers also provided a facility-wide energy assessment which identified another $40,100 per year in energy-saving projects with less than a 2.5 year payback. (Used with client permission.)

Old Edwards Inn First Recognized by NC GreenTravel , Highlands, NC

Old Edwards Inn, located in Highlands, North Carolina, has prided itself on being an environmentally sustainable inn and spa.  To further promote that goal, Old Edwards enlisted the help of Waste Reduction Partners and the Highlands Biological Station.  WRP staff performed an energy assessment while mentoring a UNC-Chapel Hill intern for Highlands Biological Station.  The assessment identified $65,000 per year of energy cost-savings with a very quick payback.  WRP staff helped Old Edwards Inn apply for NC GreenTravel recognition and Old Edwards Inn became the first lodging establishment to be recognized under this initiative of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  In 2012, WRP staff continued helping Old Edwards Inn to improve recycling programs throughout their facilities while working with the Highlands Biological Station intern to craft an Energy Management Plan.  

Laboratory Equipment Manufacturer Meets Zero Waste Goal

After five years of steady progress in waste reduction, ThermoFisher Scientific– Asheville met their goal to become a zero-waste-to-landfill site at the end of 2014. WRP staff worked the facility to identify markets for a number of difficult-to-recycle materials and help organize the first of what has become an annual “Day of the Dive” waste sort of their entire trash compactor.  ThermoFisher's waste streams were diverse and not as marketable as many by products that can come from manufacturing, but thanks to the effectiveness and dedication of ThermoFisher’s green team, the Asheville site was able to stay on track and meet this important goal.  

WRP staff also has conducted energy efficiency surveys for ThermoFisher as part of their participation in the state’s E3 (Economy, Energy, and Environment) initiative.  A second focused energy survey helped quantify the energy cost savings and performance benefits of insulating the drying oven which the company quickly implemented as an improvement measure. (Communicated with company permission)        

 

Eastern NC Hospital Pursues Recycling

In late 2011, WRP staff completed a solid waste assessment for a county hospital in eastern North Carolina.  Staff noted that one of the greatest impediments to implementing a solid waste program was support by top level management.  In June 2012, the hospital informed WRP that as a result of sharing the WRP solid waste assessment report with senior management, funding was approved for 90 additional 23-gallon recycling containers. They also received funding for “green” bags for recycling waste. They were not able to obtain funding for a full-time recycling coordinator but commitment by existing staff is moving the project forward. Staff at the hospital finds the colored bags make a big difference in the separation of recycling from trash. They have formed a Green Team, and their marketing team is working to get the message out around the hospital. As equipment fails, they are replacing it with more energy efficient or “green-manufactured” equipment. They have not yet been able to address cafeteria waste. The site is very grateful to WRP for producing the report, which they say they constantly refer to. They told WRP that "now they know how to do it." They will be sharing their next round of bills with WRP to identify the savings realized by the changes and plan to investigate recycling blue surgical wrap.

 

Reading, Riding and Retrofit – Buncombe County Schools

The Land of Sky Regional Council and WRP recently completed a project summary report for the two-year EPA Climate Showcase Grant titled Reading, Riding and Retrofit.  WRP staff led the administration of $310,000 of sub-awards for facility energy retrofits, which when matched with other state and utility rebates, are saving 54 schools over $240,000 per year in utility costs.  The project also supported the development of 18 Green Teams with a micro-grant program which continues to evolve in engaging student and teacher projects.

WRP was fortunate to work on an exciting project to help Buncombe County School s seek the EPA Energy Star Label for 37 schools in Buncombe County. The label requires an engineering review to verify IAQ and ventilation rates, heating/cooling performance, lighting standards and other energy performance metrics.  The Energy Star Label is allowing the school system to receive a five cent per therm discount on natural gas purchases through PSNC.  School system officials estimate utility cost savings at $40,000 per year.

 

Pollution Prevention Assistance  and Compliance Referrals

WRP engineer, Marshall Goers, and DEOA staff Patrick Grogan are working with a western-based specialty food manufacturer to address a wastewater solids issue through evaluation and pollution prevention strategies.  WRP staff evaluated pollution control and preventive strategies to help the company remedy the issue in the most cost effective approach possible.

 

Water Efficiency – Demand-Side Management  

Tom Kimmell is WRP’s new manager of the Water Efficiency Program.  Under contract with the City of Asheville Water Resources Department, staff is conducting ten water efficiency assessments of large water-using customers in Buncombe County.  The assessments serve as a customer service effort which helps identify customer cost-saving opportunities. The efforts also promote a long-term water efficiency ethic of large facilities.  One assessment for the Asheville Housing Authority has resulted in domestic water fixture upgrades for 249 apartments which had older water fixtures.

 

ARRA Energy Project Implementation Support

Since 2010, Waste Reduction Partners has been a key Technical Assistance Provider for the State Energy Office, helping ARRA grant recipients implement $11.2 million in energy projects (funded with $7.1 million of ARRA grants).  WRP’s statewide engineers worked on 133 ARRA-supported projects with local governments, universities, k-12 schools, community colleges, and private industries.  WRP technical support included energy assessments, grant writing, project specifications, strategic planning, pre- and post- measurement and verification of savings.  SEO “Technical Assistance” funding support for WRP concluded at the end of March 2012 for these projects.

 

Agricultural Waste Plastic, Statewide

Waste Reduction Partners has partnered with the Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach (DEAO), NC Nurseryman and Landscapers Association (NCLNA) and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to create solutions for managing discarded agricultural / nursery plastics such as ‘clean’ plastic films and nursery pots.  Bev Fermor and Jan Foster from Waste Reduction Partners and Tom Rhodes, Scott Mouw and Jamie Ragan from DEAO have formed an agricultural plastics recycling team and have worked together with Ross Williams (NCLNA) to identify the agricultural plastics recycling needs of the growers and landscapers of NC. The team estimates there is about 500 tons of overwintering film torn down each spring in NC. The agricultural plastics recycling team have located, contacted and mapped the locations of the potential markets to process and recycle these plastics in NC.  The agricultural plastics recycling team is now in the process of linking the growers and landscapers with the recyclers or collection sites. Currently the team is putting the information on web sites and generating an information flyer to distribute to the growers and landscapers.  A number of outreach events, recycling trials, collection site developments are underway.

 

WRP Helps NCDOT Rest Areas Identify Operational Savings

Waste Reduction Partners conducted energy, water usage, and solid waste audits of eleven rest areas selected by the NC DOT in 2010. Individual reports delivered to DOT leadership focused primarily on the quick payback, cost savings from energy reduction, but also presented comprehensive water usage, and solid waste reduction recommendations.  These WRP recommendations will save a total of $33,234 annually, or 18% of the energy bill.  For most rest stops, the most common cost-reduction opportunity was to remove the lighting from vending machines or to improve the maintenance of heating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. DOT committed to make the low-cost upgrades and has greatly increased recycling collection rates at all rest area sites.

 

Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Inc. – Waynesville

WRP helped Haywood Vocational Opportunities (HVO), Inc.  reduce approximately ¼ of their waste stream by finding recycling options for their nonwoven medical fabrics.  After our assessment in 2010, WRP has followed up regularly to help HVO manage fluctuations in the recycling markets and identify new market opportunities.

 

Survival Innovations, Arden, NC – Small Business Assistance

Survival Innovations is a small company that provides human protective equipment for the military.  They called WRP when they realized they had inventory of nylon fabric and elastic strapping that had exceeded its shelf life.  It was only a few thousand pounds of material, but it was important to them to keep this out of the landfill.  WRP found a fabric store within 10 miles of their business that was able to take the material to resell in their floor stock.  


Asheville City Schools Launches Food Waste Composting - 2011-2013

The Green Team at Asheville City School System approached WRP in January, 2011 seeking options for reducing waste in their school lunch programs.  WRP proposed food waste composting and introduced the team to a viable service provider.  This food waste composting business offered to collect compostables from the cafeteria in one elementary school for free for three months so that the school system could see if this would work for them.  The pilot project was a success and in 2012 the school system started composting in all five elementary schools. The school system and recycling vendor, Danny’s Dumpster, team with Asheville GreenWorks to provide student training on cafeteria food waste recycling.  Volumes of cafeteria waste, which is consistently found to be the highest percentage of a school waste stream, have dramatically fallen by approximately 80% on average, and roughly 225,000 pounds per year of food waste is now diverted from the landfill onto more productive uses as compost.

Rutherford County Schools

WRP volunteer, Richard Burke, in Rutherfordton has helped the county school system gradually increase the amount of their recycling to 250,000 pounds per school year.  The schools have been able to reduce their solid waste pickups, saving $8,400 per year as a result.

 

One Hundred Energy Audits Completed for Public Facilities

Waste Reduction Partners recently completed 100 energy audits for community colleges, K-12 schools, and local government under contract with the State Energy Office. WRP engineers conducted these audits across 26 western North Carolina counties in fiscal year 2009. Forty-three assessments were made for community colleges and 57 were conducted at local governments and K-12 school systems.

Overall, engineers recommended an estimated $700,000 in annual utility savings opportunities, which were ready achievable through mostly no-cost and low-cost projects. On average, 10% saving in total energy utility costs were identified, equivalent to $0.17 per square foot annual cost savings. In the aggregate, these 100 facilities had an average annual utility cost of $1.32/sf and consumed 65 kBtu/sf. These common performance benchmarks are slightly better that average for similar facilities in the southeast but still present significant energy efficiency opportunity improvements.

Common energy efficiency recommendations included lighting improvements and occupancy sensors; upgrades to HVAC and related controls, and building envelop improvements. Limited maintenance staffing and investment dollars for upgrades and maintenance were identified as key needs.
 

WRP Helps Givens Estate Use Water More Efficiently

LOSRC's Waste Reduction Partners (WRP) Program completed an extensive water-efficiency assessment of one of the largest retirement communities in Asheville. This 250-acre facility contains a variety of housing options for the 762 residents, as well as a health center and activity center. The WRP assessment team consisted of four retired professionals, along with the facility's project manager. Funding for this assessment, as well as other water-efficiency assessments, was provided by the Water Resources Department of the City of Asheville.

The cost of water consumed by the retirement community in 2008 was $234,289, based on a daily average consumption of 73,650 gallons. WRP assessors identified potential annual savings of $44,156, based on annual savings of 2,296,289 gallons of water. A significant amount of this saving would be achieved simply by installing meters in the water lines used for landscaping and the cooling tower make-up water, thus avoiding the sewer charges on this water.

The management of the facility, and especially the board of directors, was impressed and gratified for WRP technical assessment and recommendations to become more sustainable.

 

Military Contractor Steps Up Recycling

WRP Solid Waste Manager, Tom McCullough, worked with Kearfott Guidance and Navigation Corp., a 420-employee military parts contractor in Swannanoa. Mr. McCullough helped Kearfott's new Environmental Administrator to establish a recycling collection program for scrap metals, fiber waste, and containers, using two different vendors. Kearfott is already receiving revenues from this newly established program. WRP scientists, Elaine Marten and Parke Flick, also reviewed Kearfott's hazardous waste and wastewater treatment programs. A report was issued to Kearfott on addressing waste minimization techniques and also identified additional service providers to more cost effectively recycle and manage hazardous wastes.

 

WNC Wood Waste Biomass Study

WRP released its study entitled, "Wood Waste Biomass Supply Survey for Western North Carolina." The survey showed that over 350,000 tons per year of wood waste is available within a 100-mile radius of Asheville, North Carolina. WRP staff compiled results of over 435 surveys that were mailed to wood waste generators in Western North Carolina, including logging, sawmills, pulp mills, land clearing, wood product manufacturers, wood processors, and county landfills. This information will allow business developers to assess new product opportunities and fuel uses for these wastes. The information will be important in addressing the upcoming wood pallet landfill ban in 2009 and the state's renewable energy portfolio standard.

 

Green and Micro Chemistry Course Development

WRP scientist, Al Glatz, created a workshop to demonstrate Green and Micro Chemistry techniques for middle and high school chemistry teachers. Dr. Glatz first presented the hands-on workshop at the annual Department of Public Instruction Teacher's Conference in New Bern in July 2006. Since that date, three more chemistry teachers' workshops were presented at the NCSU Science House, Appalachian State University and the Western RESA.  WRP hopes to support another training event at East Carolina University in 2010. The effort is part of a School Lab Clean-out Initiatives project managed by the North Carolina Hazardous Waste Section.

 

Persistence Pays Off - Finding Homes for Solid Wastes

WRP assessors assist businesses with finding appropriate recycling service providers, waste processors, collection and material handling logistics, and program follow-through. The following are examples of selected efforts with Western North Carolina businesses.

  • WRP engineers have been working with an automotive carpet manufacturer in McDowell County to find more cost-effective options to recycle large volumes of textile waste, auto linings, and floor mat scrap. WRP staff helped the manufacturer recycle and process 120 tons of waste for use in energy recovery. The broker will utilize four truck loads per month and hopes the demand will grow.
  • WRP Assessor, Jan Foster, conducted a solid waste reduction assessment and developed implementation strategies for a retail furniture outlet. This retailer desires to expand and improve its current cardboard recycling program. It is considering baling cardboard to gain better revenues and to include other materials such as plastic films for recycling.
  • WRP assessors worked with a locally owned manufacturer in Woodfin to find a market for 24 tons per year of metal strapping from the company's shipping and receiving departments. WRP has previously provided this same manufacturer with water and energy efficiency assessments and recommendations.
  • WRP scientists, Jerome Chambliss and Jose Gonzalez, worked with a ceramics manufacturer in Henderson County to address the potential reclamation of several by-products. The company produces 12 tons per week of de-watered ceramic slurry mixture that it hopes to reclaim and reuse. WRP assessors provided their technical recommendations on the project. WRP also investigated recycling markets for dried edge trimming waste of more than 10 tons per month.

 

Follow-up Energy Study Proves Success

WRP Special Projects Coordinator, Wayne Rumble, conducted a follow-up study of previous WRP clients who received energy efficiency assessments in late 2007. From a sample of 30 clients, 19 responding clients reported an average implementation rate of 46 percent of the recommended energy efficiency measures developed by WRP. An increase was noted in the implementation rate for public and institutional sectors over previous years. Top energy conservation measures implemented were 1) improve HVAC maintenance, 2) repair compressed air leaks, 3) upgrade lighting to T-8 lamps with electronic ballasts, 4) improvements to building envelope, 5) turn off unnecessary lighting, including delamping vending machines.

 

City of Asheville Promotes Water Ethic with WRP Help

As part of the City of Asheville Water Resources Department's commitment to foster a water efficiency effort among their customer base, the WRP team has been contracted to perform water efficiency assessments and outreach to Asheville's large water users.

WRP volunteer engineers performed twelve onsite water efficiency assessments during 2007. The customers included five industrial plants, three office complexes, two assisted living facilities, one condominium complex, and one church.

WRP assessors recommended a total of 4.3 million gallons per year of water conservation measures, with more than $47,000 in annual customer cost savings related to water, sewer, and energy utilities.

WRP Volunteer Rich Krulikas worked with Asheville's Water Education Coordinator, Stephanie Burnie, to support outreach events at two schools. WRP hopes to engage K-12 educators to incorporate water resources education in special hands-on learning projects for their students.

The WRP Water Team included Don Levitt, Rich Krulikas, Orville McKinney, Ed Stagl, John Ash, and Ron Ehlinger, all working under the direction of Don Hollister.

 

WRP Assists ASU Plemmons Student Union Center

WRP Assessors, Bob Gilbreath, Russ Jordan, and Terry Albrecht, worked with Appalachian State University's Facilities Management and Plemmons Student Union Center staff to assess potential energy-saving opportunities. WRP determined that the 106,000 square foot student union facility had an energy cost of $3.96/square foot. Mr. Gilbreath conducted follow-up visits with facility staff and recommended efficiency measures to save $45,000 per year. More importantly, Mr. Gilbreath's report provided guidance on how to begin a measurement and verification program to track existing energy use performance and monitor improvements. The report should be used to institute energy management improvement programs that can be utilized throughout the ASU campus.

 

Student Outreach with Brevard College

WRP staff, David Lowles, Art Lins, and John Roethle undertook a special project to create an Energy Assessment project with Professor Bob Cabin and his students at Brevard College. With WRP mentoring, students assessed energy consumption at three representative buildings on campus. Students focused on lighting efficiency improvements and presented recommendations for more than $31,426 of cost savings across the campus. The findings will be utilized by Brevard College's administration and an outsourced facility management company.

 

WRP Assists Municipality with Stormwater - Phase II

Over the past several years, the Land of Sky Regional Council has been assisting their member governments address new stormwater quality requirements of the Clean Water Act's Phase II Stormwater Program.

Bob Brown, a volunteer Civil Engineering technician with WRP, began assisting the Town of Biltmore Forest with the implementation of these permitting requirements. Mr. Brown worked with Terry Crouch, Public Works Director with the Town of Biltmore Forest, to complete all of year one activities, including the development of a Stormwater Management Plan.

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