The Large Business Sector identifies the commercial, industrial and larger establishments in the West Chester area and the steps that they could take to reduce greenhouse gasses and prepare for a changing climate.
This area has a thriving large business sector and CEF is eager to explore ways that our businesses can conserve on energy use and to harden its facilities against more powerful storms, increased flooding, and greater heat waves. And respond to the changes in markets caused by disruptions caused by changes in climate.
Some large businesses started as family-owned businesses that had their beginning here; some are local operations of national or international companies; and some are outlets for goods and services manufactured outside of the West Chester area. These corporations are vital to the economic health of the area. They are differentiated from small business by their size and complexity of their organization. (See the Small Business Sector for these businesses.)
Corporations in the West Chester Area
Below is a list of the corporate facilities located in the West Chester area. Have we missed any facilities, perhaps your facility?
Business Emissions Inventory Data (large and small businesses)
The business sector (and other non-residential uses) uses 63% of the electricity, natural gas, oil and LPG consumed in the West Chester area. The residential sector uses the other 37%.
This sector uses over three times as much electricity as the residential sector, but approximately the same amount of natural gas, oil, and LPG.
The business sector spends approximately $103 million per year, 70% of which is spent on energy.
Data Source: DVRPC 2015 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Inventory
As your purchasing agent knows, the electricity supplied to our local grid is a mix of electricity generated by various fuels.
The default energy mix provided by PECO looks like this:
Electric utility energy mix data is from the EPA Power Profiler page. As you can see, almost 93% of our electricity comes from nuclear, coal and gas methane sources! The “7% other” consists of small amounts (2% or less) of hydro, wind, solar, biomass, oil geothermal and other fossil fuels.
Data on commercial energy use coming soon
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Explore this page to learn about the challenges and opportunities for business members of our community on our path towards:
Transitioning to 100% renewable energy.
assisting your employees to do the same as you steer your services toward this future.
The most cost-effective strategy is to REDUCE, ELECTRIFY and TRANSITION to clean renewable energy in our businesses. Reducing our energy use is the place to start and is where our biggest opportunities can be found for taking actions that pay for themselves.
The relative size of the arrows above imply that the more we Reduce, the less we need to Electrify and Transition. Not necessarily a flowchart, we can work on all at the same time.
Aligning your business
Teaming with your employees
Maintain energy benchmarking and a GHG emissions inventory and use these tools to make decisions on emission reductions
Ever wonder if your profit is reduced by inefficient use of energy? Here is a form from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) which can help you answer this question: Energy Audit Data Collection Form. It is a no-nonsense way of organizing your data so that you can see how to reduce your energy bill yourself. And if you’re encouraged by your own results, you may want to go to this PECO website and look at the three successively more detailed energy assessments that PECO offers, not to mention the offers of instant product discounts and financial incentives on a variety of energy efficient equipment and projects. And while we are on the subject of our electric utility, PECO also offers detailed advice on much of the energy-intensive equipment in commercial and industrial facilities.
Maximize efficiency of heating and lighting
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization, provides information and guidance on how to reduce the energy use and the cost of heating and lighting your building, whether you are a large corporation or a small business. It provides essential information on how to heat and light your building more efficiently.
Use zoom calls for out of office meetings and conferences
In many cases, there is a need for a face-to-face meeting. But how many times have you felt required to travel to a meeting that could have been conducted over a Zoom link just as efficiently and in a whole lot less time. The capabilities of teleconferencing are prompting us to reconsider benefits of meeting through the monitor on our desk: more flexibility, less windshield time, and a cleaner environment. For more information: HERE.
Carefully monitor and minimize refrigerant losses
Refrigerant losses from refrigeration equipment are a major source of greenhouse gases not only because of the quantity of refrigerant losses to the atmosphere but also because of the high warming potential of these chemicals. The most common refrigerants used today have hundreds or even thousands time the warming potential of CO2. Even though the amount of refrigerants emitted is relatively small, it accounts for 2.5% of the warming potential of greenhouse gases by U.S. sources. An even better way to minimize the impact of refrigerants is to replace a high-warming refrigerant with low- or no-warming potential. The leading contender is, believe it or not, CO2. Refrigeration using CO2 is becoming more technically feasible and reduces GHG emissions by factors of hundreds or thousands of tons.
Gentex Optics, a manufacturer of eyeglass lenses in Dudley, Massachusetts, upgraded their industrial chiller system with high-efficiency chillers and improved process controls. These upgrades achieved a 73% reduction in electricity use, saving the company $142,000 per year. The costs of the upgrades were recovered in 4.5 years.
According to the EPA, the refrigeration at the typical supermarket contains 3,500 pounds of refrigerant and leaks 25% of this refrigerant per year. The total losses of refrigerants to the atmosphere from all food stores in the U.S. result in almost 60 million tons of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gases. These losses can be significantly reduced by careful monitoring of the tubing and valves of the equipment and fixing the leaks. New refrigeration equipment using CO2 as a refrigerant is being installed in supermarkets such as ALDI, Piggly Wiggly, and Walmart.
Electrify refers to changing your energy sources from combustion-based sources (gas, coal, oil) to electricity. Phasing out fossil-fuel based appliances is an important step in the transition to a cleaner future, especially as renewables make up a larger and larger portion of our grid’s energy mix.
Replacing gas-burning heating systems in commercial buildings with efficient electrified heat-pumps could reduce these buildings’ total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 44%, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The conversions would help enable the buildings to ultimately become “zero carbon” as the electric grid moves toward renewable energy sources. But policymakers will need to act to spur a widespread shift to heat pumps. Here is the ACEEE report.
Transition to electric vehicle
Many companies are now electrifying their fleets not just for the sustainability benefits, but also for financial ones. Over the life of a vehicle, EVs can save owners, including businesses, thousands of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs. Consumer Reports found that consumers investing in EVs save an average of $4,700 in fuel costs alone over the first seven years of ownership—and these savings are amplified for commercial fleets.
Heat Pumps for Beer Making
The processes of mashing, boiling, pasteurization, cleaning, and production support are all required to make a good beer. The boiling process requires heating to 100 degrees C but other processes require heating at lower temperatures. Therefore, heat pumps are a good solution for the electrification of the beer industry. Industrial heat pumps are active heat recovery systems that can capture energy savings in one process to save energy in another process.
UPS, with a major distribution facility in West Chester, is moving to electric package delivery vehicles. UPS has signed a contract with Arrival, a London-based EV manufacturer, for 10,000 electric package delivery trucks. These trucks, which will be used for last-mile delivery of packages, are manufactured in York County, South Carolina in a state-of-the-art facility starting in late 2021.These vehicles can travel 150 miles on a single charge. UPS has announced plans to purchase 125 semi-trucks from Tesla, 50 of which will be added to the U. S. fleet. More information on these acquisitions is found HERE.
Transitioning our energy generation away from fossil fuels (both individually and as a society) is critical to securing a clean and sustainable future. “Transition” goes hand in hand with “Electrify” - if we can electrify our energy needs and transition our supplies to renewable sources, we will complete a circle of energy sustainability.
Install solar arrays on site
Rooftop solar is a great way to lock-in your electricity price for the next 20 years. If your commercial facility has a flat roof, there is a powerful tool on-line that can help you compare the probable costs of solar to your current expenditure for electricity: Station A. Sure the Station A people would like your business, but you can use this application without going further. Also our local solar advocates –Solarize Greater West Chester would be happy to talk with you and answer any question that you may have, point you to other commercial projects in our area, explain the current tax incentives from PA and US.
Enter into a long-term power purchase agreement for renewable energy
POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS (PPA)
Increasingly, corporations are purchasing their electricity from electricity generators rather than from the electricity distribution company. This shift in purchasing has been brought on by the deregulation of the electricity industry. As part of this shift, some corporations are choosing to purchase electricity from solar and wind sources of electricity and, in addition, to use the PPA to facilitate the construction of new solar and wind projects. When a corporation can guarantee the purchase of a solar facility’s electricity for a 15 or 20 year period, this enables the solar facility builders to obtain favorable loans to construct the project.
Purchase renewable energy credits
A third option for transitioning to clean energy is to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) with your electricity; one REC for each megawatt-hour of electricity. This entitles you to claim that the electricity that you are buying is from a renewable energy source, such as solar or wind. And it encourages the construction of additional renewable energy. It is advisable to work through an established energy broker, who will get you the best price based on competitive bidding and will stay aware of when your energy contract is ending to avoid any unexpected increases in the rates.
All-Fill, located on Creamery Way in West Whiteland Township, has installed a 900 solar panel array on the roof. This array is capable of almost one-quarter of a megawatt (million watts) of power.
Photo: Google Maps
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) has contracted with Lightsource BP in a Power Purchase Agreement for electricity from two solar facilities in York County, PA. These solar facilities will supply 27,380 megawatt-hours of electricity to SEPTA, or nearly 10% of SEPTA’s electricity demand. That reduces its greenhouse gas emissions by 19,360 tons annually.
Image: Lightsource BP
Financing Projects with Corporate-Property Assessed Clean Energy
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) is a financial tool for property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficient equipment, renewable energy, and water conservation projects.
C-PACE can provide up to 100% funding of total project costs by placing a special voluntary assessment on the property that repays the costs of the upgrades including equipment, labor and soft costs. Because C-PACE is attached to a property assessment, it is a very secure form of financing.
Aligning your industry with the future
Modify an industrial process to reduce energy usage and/or reduce GHG emissions
Worldwide, the steel industry emits 3 billion tons of greenhouse gases, or 7 to 9% of all manmade GHGs. Cleveland-Cliffs Plate, a steel manufacturer, is the largest single source of greenhouse gases in Chester County. It operates what used to be the Lukens steel mill in Coatesville. It, together with other steel companies, is experimenting with low emission processes to replace the traditional blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace for making steel. Although they are more expensive at this time, these new methods are potentially capable of between a 70% and 90% reduction in GHG emissions.
Transition away from products that create high emissions of GHGs
How many industries can you think of that can transition from high-GHG products to low-GHG products?
The auto industry: from gas powered cars to EVs
The refrigeration industry: from today’s refrigerants to use of CO2 as a refrigerant
The HVAC industry: from fossil fuel boilers to heat pumps
Thermostat manufacturers: from simple thermostats to programmable thermostats
Electric utilities: from one-way electricity flow to integrated energy management
Assisting your employees to transition
The Covid-19 epidemic has given many of us the experience of working from home, or telecommuting. The elimination of the daily commute to work has reduced our tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases and given us back many hours in the week spent in traffic. While not for everyone or every job, it has given us the opportunity to consider more flexible and lower-polluting lifestyles. Explore the world of telecommuting HERE.
EV charging for employees
If you told your employees that you were going to install EV charging stations at work, would they be more likely to purchase an EV? Sure they would. You would be offering an additional benefit, increasing employee satisfaction, and helping them to reduce greenhouse gases all at the same time.