by Kirsten Delamarter
Kentucky, the birthplace of bourbon, may soon be home to the world’s first ENERGY STAR-certified distilleries.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of creating an ENERGY STAR certification specifically for distilleries, an initiative for which the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy (OEP) was the driving force.
“It’s a national effort, and a natural fit with our cabinet’s Sustainable Spirits initiative,” said OEP Assistant Director Kenya Stump, who has been working closely with U.S. EPA in the early stages of the project.
Stump said the idea for a distillery-specific certification originated last year, when representatives of a distillery approached her asking how they could get ENERGY STAR certified. She asked U.S. EPA if such a rating existed, and, upon finding out none did, Stump offered to help create one.
Distilling isn’t the first industry to have a specialized ENERGY STAR certification. The U.S. EPA works with individual manufacturing sectors through ENERGY STAR to develop certifications for specific industries, which are referred to as “industries in focus.”
In order to accurately assess the energy efficiency of a facility, specialized industries need sector-specific energy benchmarks. These measurements give businesses or plants something to compare their energy usage to — such as that facility’s energy consumption during a similar time period or energy usage at a similar facility elsewhere. This serves as a baseline for progress.
Thus far, ENERGY STAR has created energy efficiency tools for more than 30 industries and offers specialized plant energy performance indicators for 18 of those sectors. This includes industries such as food processing, motor vehicle manufacturing, paper manufacturing and more.
Right now, OEP and U.S. EPA are in the process of asking distilleries — of bourbon as well as other spirits — to participate in its “benchmarking” process.
“ENERGY STAR certification is the defining mark of top energy performance for manufacturing facilities within their industry,” said Elizabeth Dutrow of ENERGY STAR Industrial Partnerships. “To develop an ENERGY STAR distillery energy performance indicator for use in certifying the energy performance of distilleries, we welcome the full participation of all distillers.”
Facilities’ energy consumption will be measured, and the ENERGY STAR energy performance indicator will produce an energy performance score for each distillery between one and 100. A score of 75 or higher is needed to qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, although scores falling below that threshold are still useful and help manufacturers better manage energy.
That’s because even the act of periodically measuring usage helps drive action. One EPA study found that consistently measuring benchmarks over time reduced average annual energy consumption by 2.4 percent. Participating distilleries will also receive assistance from energy professionals in the industry, who can share non-proprietary energy management strategies and answer questions.
Distilleries that are interested in participating in the process can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, within the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, aims to utilize the state’s energy resources in a way that improves the Commonwealth while protecting and improving the environment. Learn more about the office here.
To learn more about ENERGY STAR’s programs, visit energystar.gov.