Plastics manufacturer improves energy efficiency and reputation

Layfield's maintenance manager Dave Brandle stands beside some equipment in the company's Richmond, B.C. facility. A planned facility expansion, incorporating energy-efficient equipment, could save more than $40,000 a year in energy costs.

Lighting upgrade cuts energy costs, improves lighting with half the number of lamps

From breakfast cereal bags through to heavy-duty membranes used on landfills, Layfield Group produces a wide variety of plastic.

Which means the company gets a lot of questions about its environmental practices.

"Everybody's always trying to say plastic is no good," says Dave Brandle, maintenance manager at Layfield's facility in Richmond, B.C. "But everything's made out of plastic these days. So we're trying to do our part to do it as efficiently as we can."

Air compressor efficiency: variable frequency drive

When it came time to add a new production line at the Richmond plant, Brandle says the company "wanted everything about it to be Power Smart."

Brandle turned to the Self-Serve Incentive Program to help reduce the cost of energy-efficiency upgrades. The company replaced several single-speed air compressors with one variable frequency drive model.

The project qualified for a $28,000 incentive against a total project cost of $50,000. Even better, the variable frequency drive compressor will save 120,000 kWh of energy, and about $7,400, per year.

"You start the self-serve application online, then your equipment supplier adds their bit," says Brandle. "After BC Hydro approved our application, it probably took about a week to get the whole thing set up. Then when the installation was done, Hydro verified it and sent us a check. It's pretty easy."

Energy-efficient lighting: fewer fixtures, more light

Brandle also harnessed the self-serve program for lighting upgrades at Layfield's warehouse and manufacturing plant. The project replaced older fluorescents with more efficient T5 high output lamps and fixtures.

The project cost $46,809, of which $27,000 was covered by the incentive. The improved lighting will save the plastic manufacturer 101,678 kWh of energy per year. But Brandle says that's only one benefit.

"Our lighting is actually better with half the number of fixtures," says Brandle. "That was important to us because we're doing food packaging printing. The food packaging people are very particular about their colours!"

Layfield is working now on a New Plant Design project, and again they're seeking the best in energy efficiency. "We've ordered high efficiency variable frequency drives for the fans, the extruders, and the HVAC in the plant," says Brandle, who is project manager for the $10 million expansion. "Even our water chiller will be variable speed."

Brandle says it's estimated the project will save approximately $40,000 per year in energy savings, or about one full month of electricity costs. "With our incentives, our payback will be about two and a half years," he says. "So it makes a lot of sense financially."

Market demand for energy efficiency

Layfield's investment in energy efficiency pays off through energy savings. But Brandle says there's value beyond what shows up on the monthly bill.

"We knock on doors to get new customers, and they say, 'Okay, what does your company do for the environment?'" he explains. "So we tell them, 'We're investing in efficiency, we're saving energy and reducing CO2 in the environment.' Then they can go back to their customers and say that the suppliers they use are doing their bit to be efficient. It's definitely important."