What’s baking? And why the EPA’s Energy Star wants to know …

This blog was written by John D. Wilson, former Deputy Director for Regulatory Policy at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | December 24, 2013 | Energy Efficiency

No, federal energy officials are not baking fruitcakes for Christmas. But when their little project is done, some thrifty confectioners might just do a little celebrating!

I recently stumbled across this odd little announcement from the American Bakers Association (ABA) simply called, “Got Data??”

To better depict the current status of the baking industry, ABA is asking for your assistance in collecting annual production and energy consumption values data. To date Duke University has collected data for 158 plants.  We need about another 100 plants for the data set.

Now, before the “big government” attack dogs are unleashed, this is a voluntary request for information to help enable companies to measure their energy performance against others in the industry.  EPA’s Energy Star Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) is a great program that encourages breakthrough improvements in energy efficiency.

How sweet is that?

Companies love this program, check out this press release from Cargill boasting of its Energy Star rating for its corn milling plant. To establish an Energy Star EPI for bakers, researchers need to know inputs (pounds of raw dough), outputs (pounds of bread and bagels), energy use (electricity and natural gas), and site characteristics (freezer operation and water consumption).

Why is a program like this needed? Well, one reason is that even well managed companies have what researchers call an “energy management gap.” Good management often promotes energy efficiency, but not as much as you might think. One solution is to help managers focus on how their energy use compares to peers – a little competition in the competitive market can help out!

So, as you snack on some tasty holiday pastries, you might just wonder if the bakery included energy efficiency in its ingredients list. And soon that bakery will be able to take the Energy Star challenge and see how it stacks up against the competition!

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