MBOT winner: Putting in the hours to go green pays off

[This is Part Two of a feature on MBOT 2012 Award Winner Broan-NuTone Canada]

Broan-NuTone Canada (BNC) has done remarkably well making its Mississauga facility more energy efficient. The manufacturer of fans and hoods on Tristar Drive has won numerous awards, including this year’s Mississauga Board of Trade Award for Excellence in the clean and green environmental category.

But director of operations John Martinovic said all the savings and achievements weren’t easy to accomplish and came with many of their own challenges.

“Quite honestly, it’s work to get this stuff done,” he said. “It’s much easier to walk by everyday and ignore the lights, let accounting take care of the bill. My predecessors never did stuff like this.”

Martinovic said to get this kind of success, BNC started small with a “green team” and simple projects. The company has daily employee involvement meetings about both green and productivity initiatives. Project suggestions are also solicited from throughout the factory. “Not just the shop floor but also maintenance and engineering, even customer services,” said Martinovic.

He also fought compartmentalization and the idea that energy was a fixed cost. “It’s gone up every year for the last five years,” he said in response to the controller.

As a result of that argument, one of the first things Martinovic and his green team did was dramatically reduce energy use during the weekends when production wasn’t taking place.

However, Martinovic admitted despite the large financial benefits, many companies have been reluctant to work towards being more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. “It’s catching on, but I’m surprised that it hasn’t spread further than it has,” he said.

Martinovic said it took the Energy Leaders Consortium two years to gather ten companies to get involved. Each one is involved at different levels, but Martinovic expressed surprise and astonishment at how the number of interested businesses were so small. “It hasn’t spread as nearly as fast as I think it could have and I think it should and I think it will, I just don’t know why yet,” he said.

BNC also worked with other organizations for help, resources and efficiency ideas, like the Greater Toronto Airports Authority’s Partners in Project Green, Enbridge and Toyota’s philosophy of continual improvement.

Martinovic said changing the company’s lights was one project that couldn’t have happened without outside help. “We’re saving over half the energy we used to use, but we had to wait until we got funding from Enersource and Natural Resources Canada,” he said. “That was a nice big savings for us.”

After years of focusing on cost-reductions through energy efficiency, Martinovic said he still tours the company’s operations four times a day. And since all the “low-hanging fruit” are gone, BNC needs to complete lots of small projects in order to get the same reductions in costs as the previous year.

Martinovic also emphasized the months, sometimes years, of work needed to research, propose and implement projects. He spoke of a current proposal for implementing destratification at the BNC facility to redistribute air and help reduce heating costs despite already seeing it at work at a Westjet air hangar. “I’m an apostle for this,” said Martinovic, “but I have to work with some of our engineers at different sites to convince them of the engineering facts behind this.”

Despite all the hard work, Martinovic doesn’t see any end to his efforts and believes more companies should get on board. “I’m amazed at how many people don’t even go there or haven’t changed their lights,” he said, “All you’re doing is burning money every year.”

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