Glass Manufacturers Reach
for the Stars
Manufacturers Discuss the New Energy
Star Rating for their Facilities
by Megan Headley
2009 closed with several surprises from the Energy Star® program.
In September the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department
of Energy (DOE) announced that they would begin working together and,
as part of this partnership, the Energy Star program will now fall under
the work of the EPA. As part of the announcement, the groups said that
EPA will be establishing a Super Star tier of its program as well.
While the transition garnered a number of questions from members of the
glass industry, there was another announcement issued in October regarding
glass: a new Energy Star rating is being offered for flat and container
glass manufacturers. According to an EPA news release, the new facility
energy performance indicators (EPIs), upon which the rating is based,
are the first of their kind for these industries.
The agency stated that the U.S. glass industry spends more than $2 billion
annually on energy. The rating is not exclusive to glass; an EPI also
was created for the food-processing sector, which is said to spend nearly
$7 billion per year. Improving the energy efficiencies of these two industries
by 10 percent, EPA says, would save nearly $900 million in energy costs
and more than 150 trillion Btu, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions
equal to those from the electricity use of more than 1 million homes for
The new Energy Star EPI for glass, developed in partnership with members
of the industry, is intended to help companies objectively assess energy
performance, set competitive goals for improvement and, over time, shift
the energy performance of the entire industry.
The EPI Explained
Energy Star has been working for some time with the glass industry via
a “Glass Manufacturing Focus,” as EPA calls its partnership between Energy
Star and glass manufacturing companies to improve energy efficiency. But
the EPI is a step in a new direction.
“It can be used to look at your relative energy performance and, if you’re
in the upper 25 percent of factories in your category, such as a float
glass plant, you can qualify for Energy Star status,” explains Jeff Yigdall,
director of engineering and international business of PPG - Glass Business
& Discovery Center in Cheswick, Pa. “It’s an industrial Energy Star
rating. A number of companies have done that in other industries.”
The EPI has been a focus of the manufacturing group for some time. “The
rating has been part of the discussions since we joined the Energy Star
program in 2006,” says Brad Runda, energy manager for Saint-Gobain North
America. “… It took a couple of years to get everything in place, and
actually develop the EPI.”
Yigdall has been involved with the EPA’s focus group for about two years
“Much of the discussion there has been on energy-saving ideas,” he says.
“Actually, we’ve combined a number of focus groups together so we’ve gotten
a cross-industry discussion on energy savings and ideas.”
According to information from the EPA website, to be eligible for Energy
Star recognition, more than 50 percent of the production of the benchmarked
plant must be comprised of the appropriate products (in this case, glass).
If fabrication is performed at the plant, all glass subject to fabrication
activities must have been produced in that plant.
To use the EPI, the plant must submit annual energy purchases or transfers
for the current year for each energy source and fuel type, and the total
amount of glass sand in short tons used for production in the plant. Plants
must account for the energy used to produce compressed air, steam and
“The intent of the EPA was to come up with a model that has some level
of statistical validation,” Yigdall explains.
EPIs are based on available, and verifiable, statistics for usage of raw
materials, such as sand. “In float glass [production], the sand is generally
about 72 percent of the total glass so the sand is a good alias for the
glass that you’re producing,” Yigdall explains. He adds, “If we did bring
in external cullet, for instance, that also would be added as a raw material.”
That data is combined with the usage information for Btus of natural gas
used and kilowatt hours of electricity, which together define the plant’s
energy footprint and relative energy performance. If found eligible for
a rating, the data is then verified, both internally and externally.
A professional engineer is required to sign off on the verified and validated
data. “That does have significance; there’s a PE putting his or her license
on the line in signing off on the data,” Yigdall says. “Then there’s a
follow-up annually to see that you’re maintaining that.”
The rating is awarded for a specific year, so a facility that has earned
the Energy Star becomes eligible to reapply one year after the date of
the last energy data submitted.
The Energy Star rating seems to be just one more motivational tool for
glass manufacturers working toward “greener” plants.
“We have a number of things in place,” Runda hints without going into
additional details about how Saint Gobain is improving its energy efficiency.
Yigdall is slightly more forthcoming about how PPG is working to improve
its plants. For starters, with its new energy management program in place,
PPG has set an energy intensity goal for glass manufacturing, as well
as a corporate-wide goal, to reduce energy intensity by 2.5 percent per
year over the next 10 years.
There are a variety of ways the company is considering doing just that.
As Yigdall elaborates, “If we’re improving our process yields, we’re getting
out more sellable glass for the same gross input; by virtue of doing that
we’re improving our energy intensity. That’s one route; the other route
is to improve the efficiency of the process itself. As we rebuild furnaces,
we improve furnace design, and since the furnace uses the bulk of the
energy in the process, improving furnace design—going to oxy-fuel, for
instance, is an energy-efficiency boost—is the other form of energy savings.”
Waste heat recovery is yet another area for energy savings.
“As efficient as our processes are, there’s still a lot of energy that
ultimately goes up the stack, and we’re looking at various ways of recovering
that energy because that’s just a direct deficiency. Even to the point
of taking energy that’s in the hot end of the process and transferring
it to the warehouse end of the process that would otherwise need to be
heated in the wintertime.”
Yigdall points to other factors for manufacturer (and, for that matter,
fabricators) to consider, including considering automatic motion detectors
for lights in certain plant areas and more efficient lighting systems
in other areas; updating compressed air systems; taking care of leaks
on air on steam systems; de-energizing sections of the glass handling
equipment not being used at the time; and other “behavioral” considerations.
“So some things are fairly simple; others are much more complicated,”
glass industry spends more than $2 billion
annually on energy.
The glass industry and the food-processing sector together spend nearly
$7 billion per year.
Improving the energy efficiencies of these two industries by 10
percent could save nearly $900 million in
and more than 150 trillion Btu while reducing
greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from the electricity use of
more than 1 million homes for a year.
The Glass Half Full
With the benefits for glass manufacturers to make their facilities more
efficient, is there value in this recognition?
“It’s something we think is valuable, it’s something that we’ve contributed
a lot of time and effort in working to help them out,” Runda says. As he
explains, “I think the real value is being able to gauge our energy consumption
against the industry in general. We benchmark our own plants, we have an
idea of which plants are good and which plants are ‘less good’ within the
company—but this gives us a feeling of how we’re doing compared with the
rest of the industry.”
The data does lag, Yigdall cautions, because “there’s no real-time system
for knowing what everyone’s using.” As he points out, most manufacturers
are reluctant to share with their peers what processes are leading to increased
productivity, so data from census reports is used in some instances.
Still, the Energy Star brand is highly recognized by consumers and this
certification could be one more way to let designers know that glass can
be a highly energy-efficient component in a building.
Rob Struble, manager of branding and communications for PPG’s Performance
Glazings, sees the program’s value on two levels. “One is the production
level—it’s an opportunity to benchmark yourself against your competitive
set to be sure that you’re always on the leading edge, if you use this index
tool to rate your own plants. Whether you seek certification or just want
to see how you’re performing, it will give you some indicator as to how
well you’re doing.
“On the marketing side, I think any of us in the commercial market segment
understand the value that LEED has brought and the growing sensitivity toward
environmental stewardship and seeking products and companies who not only
manufacture products that are low-E and that provide some level of energy
performance but that also are committed to processes that are less environmentally
disruptive,” Struble says.
And, as word slowly gets out, Yigdall says customers are responding.
“We’ve recently had an inquiry from one of our customers [in another industry]
asking about what we have in place in terms of an energy management system,”
Yigdall says. He suspects glass-related customers will soon be asking these
same questions. “The need is there and we’re able to honestly respond and
demonstrate that we’re on board.”
For an expanded version of this article, visit www.usglassmag.com.
Or for more information on this program, visit www.energystar.gov
Megan Headley is the editor of USGlass.
© Copyright 2010 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.