Water and Energy Savings – A Win/Win
BBOC graduate Ron Chase is the manager of facilities maintenance at L-3 Communication in the multi-national company’s ISO-9001 certified San Carlos, CA location, L-3 Electronic Devices Division (L-3 EDD). For over fifty years, the company has designed and manufactured microwave vacuum devices, outputting hundreds of devices monthly for military and commercial systems. Chase is responsible for all maintenance functions, from landscaping to construction projects.
In August of last year, the company saw significant water and energy savings with a project that combined two plating and cleaning areas into one new space, a state-of-the-art operation that is now zero-discharge for all water used in the cleaning and plating operation so vital to their production. The advantages are both economic and environmental.
Water consumption was reduced by 65%, from an average of 70,890 gallons per day to 25, 172. This is an annual reduction of ten million gallons, a savings of $21,265 in water alone. Since all wastewater in the zero-discharge system is reclaimed and reused, there is no discharge into the city sewer system. Cleaned water stays in a holding tank until needed. Chase explains, “In the past, we had used a ‘gravity separation’ system that would require quantities of chemicals to pH adjust the water and separate the metals from the water. The clean water would enter the sewer and the metals holding sludge would be dewatered and sent somewhere to be incinerated. The leftover metals from incineration would then be harvested. Eight different hazardous chemicals were required to accomplish this process.” This also meant cost savings for hazardous waste shipment fees of $15,000/year and an even more impressive $60,000 savings annually in the cost of the now unnecessary water treatment chemicals.
“Most of the other water usage is involved in makeup water from evaporation from our 1000-ton cooling tower. We are exploring ways to reduce this number as well,” says Chase.
In March of this year the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce recognized L-3 EDD’s efforts by bestowing its Green Business of the Year – Large Business award. The California Water Environment Association also gave EDD its Northern California Large Facility Pretreatment, Pollution Prevention and Stormwater Facility of the Year award, out of over two-hundred facilities nominated statewide. In its March newsletter, EDD congratulated its facilities maintenance staff saying that, “guided by Ron Chase, (our facilities maintenance staff) deserves a standing ovation for the long and hard work they have put in on the new facility and the other improvements that have brought us these awards.”
But Chase and his staff won’t rest on their laurels and have more energy saving projects on tap. “We are currently in the beginning stages of retrofitting two areas for improved efficiency lighting, going from halide lights to T5 high output fluorescents. We are also planning to install variable speed drives and more efficient motors on ten of our heat exchanger systems to cool process machinery,” says Chase. Both lighting and motor changes will yield significant electrical cost savings as well as cost-implementation savings, when factoring in rebates for both projects from utility provider, PG&E.
Chase observes, “The BOC program provided a great overview to capture potential cost savings in the plant. I still use the program module notes to help coordinate efforts to save on electrical, water and HVAC costs.”