Showing off how an employee suggestion allowed it to save energy with its cooling tower and boilers, the Sherwin-Williams Co., Cleveland, gave a group of companies and other organizations a tour of its Richmond, Ky., facility.

The event was part of the state’s Save Energy Now program, which is funded through a three-year project award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program. The tour of the plant and utilities included the cooling tower and boiler room. Several Sherwin-Williams employees showcased energy-efficiency projects that were implemented as a result of the company’s employee suggestion system. For example, one suggestion resulted in the installation of variable-speed-drive fans in the plant’s cooling tower.

At Sherwin-Williams, suggestion boxes are located throughout the plant. Each week, the suggestions are reviewed and assigned to an action manager to follow up. At the end of every year, the best ideas are selected for a cash award that amounts to a percentage of the implemented project’s one-year savings.

In its first year in the Save Energy Now program, and with its participation in Kentucky’s pledge program to reduce energy use, the Richmond facility lowered its energy consumption by 26 percent.

By participating in the statewide pledge program, organizations receive:
  • Assistance with developing energy baselines and energy-management plans.
  • Energy assessments, training opportunities and help from an energy management expert.
  • Access to proven energy analysis software tools and other DOE technical resources.
  • Statewide recognition for pledge participation and reported energy savings achievements.
Kentucky companies that take the pledge promise to do the following items, called "Five Stars."
  • Sign the pledge and develop an energy-use baseline.
  • Institute an energy-management policy, establish a cross-functional energy team and undergo energy-management training.
  • Assess operations for potential improvement opportunities and develop an energy action plan to reduce energy use by at least 2.5 percent each year.
  • Implement the energy action plan and evaluate progress of the energy-management program.
  • Develop an internal recognition program and mentor other pledge participants.
Sherwin-Williams was the first company to sign Kentucky’s pledge and the first to achieve all five stars.