State Funding Helps Reduce Company’s Cost of Doing Business; Results Demonstrate Benefits of Investing in Energy Efficiency
May 08, 2012
A three-year, $214,000 energy efficiency and waste reduction experiment has paid off for Beacon Glass and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
The two organizations partnered to experiment with a new type of glass-melting furnace, which had the potential to save energy for the small craft firm in the city of Beacon, as well as other glass companies around New York State.
Today, the company reports it lowered its energy use by 32 percent, and saved considerable material costs. The computer-controlled furnace was funded equally by NYSERDA and Beacon Glass, with each providing $107,000. The project was meant to show other glass companies the value in investing in energy-efficient technology.
Besides the energy savings, the new technology helped the company survive during the recent economic downturn by reducing waste and allowing the company to use a less expensive glass recipe that melts at a lower temperature.
“Glass manufacturing requires a tremendous amount of energy. We are pleased to have helped Beacon Glass achieve significant energy savings, and encourage other manufacturers to make similar investments,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. “This is the perfect example of how public and private partnerships, under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, are helping companies reduce their operational expenses while creating a robust clean-energy economy in New York.”
Beacon Glass, which has seven employees, is a 25-year-old company made up of two divisions -- Architectural Glass Inc., which makes glass tiles, light fixtures and other products for commercial use, and Hudson Beach Glass Inc., which makes functional and artistic products for retail and wholesale markets.
“NYSERDA's funding helped Beacon Glass achieve considerable savings, and the timing couldn't be better," said Michael Benzer, President and CEO of Beacon. "The project came at a time of both unexpectedly-high energy costs and shifts in marketplace demand. This project helped us weather those changes and become stronger as a business because of it.”
In 2008, the company partnered with NYSERDA to purchase a computer-controlled and heat-recuperation furnace, which uses a ceramic crucible. The ceramic crucible is a freestanding container that contains the raw materials, which are melted into glass at temperatures of 2,285 degrees Fahrenheit. The use of the crucible allows the furnace to operate more energy-efficiently.
The company melts 100,000 pounds of glass each year.
Previously, Beacon Glass used a tank furnace to melt glass. That technology needed to be replaced every three years, at a cost of up to $20,000. Using the crucible design, only the crucible needs to be replaced. It lasts up to four months (more than 100 melts) and costs $1,200.
The crucible also wastes less melted glass. Using the tank furnace, the company had been losing 25 percent of its product during the melting process, or about 500 pounds a week. Changing furnaces reduced this amount by three-quarters.
Most importantly, the new equipment can be heated at a lower temperature and does not need to remain hot constantly, because it heats up quickly.
“Beacon Glass has been part of the fabric of the City of Beacon for many, many years, as well as one of our biggest tourist attractions,” said Beacon Mayor Randy Casale. “This project will make their business more sustainable and more green. We thank NYSERDA for helping them achieve this.”
The Glass Arts Society of Seattle, Wash. estimates there are around 1,000 glass companies in the United States with more than one employee that could benefit from improved furnace efficiency.
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.
Last Updated: 05/14/2013