Reducing Energy Usage with Natalie Aaron
When Natalie Aaron joined the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) team at EnerSys, she had little to no knowledge of the Better Plants Program – an initiative she would be spending most if not all of her time on. The Better Plants Program is a U.S. Department of Energy initiative that works with leading U.S. manufacturers and wastewater treatment agencies to set ambitious energy, water, waste, and carbon reduction goals and commit to reducing energy intensity by 25% over a 10-year period across U.S. based operations. EnerSys joined the program in 2021 and Natalie spearheaded and now works cohesively with the Sustainability team to manage our ongoing efforts with Better Plants.
Better Plants partners universities with manufacturers -- like EnerSys -- to identify opportunities to reduce energy usage or increase efficiency. Our Warrensburg, Richmond, Hays, Springfield 1 and Springfield 2 plants are the locations officially participating in the initiative, and Natalie’s team hopes to replicate findings from these locations at other EnerSys manufacturing sites across the U.S. and beyond.
“The process of making batteries is energy intensive,” says Natalie. “It’s our responsibility as a good corporate citizen to reduce energy usage and find ways to make our processes more efficient.” This past month, as part of the program, Natalie took PhD students from the University of Missouri on a tour of the Warrensburg factory where they assessed and took note of the various systems using energy, including HVAC systems, water systems, and lighting. Other tests were performed including air flow tests and heat draws from the battery formation process. Natalie also provided the students with detailed data on historic gas, electricity, and water usage at the plant.
“It’s excellent to get an extra set of eyes on our processes at our plants. Just because we’ve been doing things a certain way for many years doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking at new ways to improve and become more efficient,” says Natalie. After the assessment results come back, Natalie and the EHS team plan to implement as many of the suggestions as possible and replicate the efforts within similar processes at other plants. The Richmond facility is set to be assessed in August by a team from the University of Louisville and tours and assessments will be arranged for the other EnerSys plants participating in the program.
“I’d love to reach our goal of reducing energy usage by 25% over the next 10 years and I think the Better Plants program is a great way to achieve that,” says Natalie. “We’re not going to make this all happen overnight – it’s a step-by-step process and I’m glad to be leading the way.”