"Superior Energy Performance" Accreditation: The Future of Industrial Efficiency?

EDF Climate Corps fellow | July 2, 2012

By: Deepak Jose, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Ingersoll Rand, MBA candidate at George Washington University School of Business 

Ingersoll Rand is seeking Superior Energy Performance (SEP) accreditation at its Trane plant in Tyler, Texas. And when it comes to energy efficiency, Ingersoll Rand often taps the skills of EDF Climate Corps fellows to bring projects to fruition. The company has hosted six fellows to date. So naturally, Ingersoll Rand brought me on board this summer to focus on SEP accreditation.

What is SEP accreditation?

SEP is a brand new energy efficiency standard specifically for industrial manufacturing. The United States Department of Energy launched this standard just last year in collaboration with the industrial sector. I am confident that SEP could deliver significant reductions in bottom-line costs and CO2 emissions at any of Ingersoll Rand's 72 facilities worldwide, and perhaps across the entire American industrial sector.

Though it focuses on operational efficiency and energy management in industrial systems, SEP is a lot like EnergyStar and LEED building performance standards. It ranks firms according to environmental impact – the lower the firm’s impact, the higher the firm’s rating.

To earn SEP certification, firms must reduce energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent, following ANSI measurement and verification protocols (MSE 50021) and ISO Energy Management Systems protocols (ISO 50001).

Why industry?

The industrial sector produces 30 percent of the annual CO2 emissions in the United States, according to the EPA. Globally, the industrial sector produces 19 percent of all CO2 emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Clearly these SEP standards have the potential to drastically reduce CO2 emissions at home and abroad, and I’m optimistic they will.

After attending the Alliance to Save Energy's May 2012 conference on industrial energy efficiency, I think manufacturers are ready to take this step. Industrial giants like Nissan, Volvo, and Dow Chemical Company have already saved millions of dollars in operational costs by making investments to lower energy usage. And government incentives like SEP will surely catalyze continued innovation.

It’s exciting to be working with Ingersoll Rand’s Center for Energy Efficiency & Sustainability on this powerful new initiative. I’m proud to be working on a project that will set an example for other firms in the industrial sector, and hopefully leading the pack into industry-wide environmental sustainability.

EDF Climate Corps places specially trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.