Under the Better Buildings Initiative, the Department of Energy seeks to improve the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings by 20 percent by 2020.

A key component of that initiative is Better Plants, which the DOE’s Andre de Fontaine discussed during a webinar on Tuesday, giving glass manufacturers an overview of the program. The presentation was sponsored by the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC).

Better Plants is a “national, voluntary industrial energy leadership initiative” in which companies set long-term efficiency goals. Partners of the program receive technical assistance, can participate in in-plant training sessions, have access to a full suite of DOE resources and receive national recognition for their involvement.

While the program has certain standards and goals set for all of its partners, Better Plants does work with more energy-intensive manufacturers and sectors to establish goals that are more in line with the nature of their energy output.

“The glass industry, for example, would fall into the category of energy-intensive manufacturers,” says de Fontaine.

Companies participating in Better Plants include 3M, Alcoa, PPG, Arkema, Ingersoll rand, Owens Corning, PPG and Saint-Gobain.

Saint-Gobain, in fact, is one of just 18 companies currently participating in the “Better Plants Challenge,” a more stringent but still voluntary version of the Better Plants Program. Saint-Gobain is also involved in the Challenge’s water savings pilot, in which “partners will set water savings goals, track progress and showcase solutions,” says de Fontaine.

Better Plants consists of more than 130 companies and close to 1,800 plants, which makes up about 8 percent of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, according to the presentation. Every state has at least one facility involved, and Texas (148 plants), California (134), Ohio (121), Georgia (93), North Carolina (90) and Pennsylvania (90) collectively make up more than a third of the program’s presence.

de Fontaine says that while Better Buildings, Better Plants only collects data from U.S. plants, participants are encouraged “to apply what they’re doing outwardly to facilities overseas.”

“Many global companies are participating,” he says. “However, for the purpose of data collected from our partners, we ask that they only submit data on operations in the U.S.”