Energy & emissions
While our manufacturing processes are not energy intensive, Axalta is committed to reducing our energy consumption to minimize our environmental footprint and create more efficient manufacturing facilities around the world.
Direct energy consumption is the amount of fuel that Axalta consumes to generate energy that is used on site. Fuel types used in our on-site generation may include coal, natural gas, propane, biofuels, ethanol, hydrogen, and fuel distilled from crude oil. Axalta consumed 1.7 million gigajoules of direct energy in 2015, a 5.5 percent increase since 2013 due to facility expansion.
Indirect energy consumption refers to the energy consumed by Axalta that is generated by and purchased from external suppliers. Axalta consumes indirect energy through its use of electricity, heat, steam, and electricity generated from alternative suppliers, such as solar and wind. Axalta consumed 930,000 gigajoules of indirect energy in 2015, an increase of nearly 5 percent since 2013.
While we track and monitor our total energy consumption, the trends in the data can be misleading because total consumption does not account for production and other variables that affect energy use. Therefore, we use energy intensity, measured in energy consumption per ton of production, as a more accurate way of tracking our energy performance.
We have implemented focused initiatives and effective energy management practices to reduce our energy consumption as depicted by our energy intensity rate below. While production has increased by more than 12 percent since 2013, our energy intensity rate has decreased by 6 percent. For example, at our Ajax site in Canada, we have reduced an estimated annual consumption of 800,000 cubic meters of natural gas by installing a more efficient boiler system for the site operations. Our Wuppertal site in Germany has saved more than 460,000 cubic meters of natural gas annually by renewing the site’s ventilation units. In addition, our Landshut site in Germany has increased its energy efficiency from 0.62 kWh/kg of product in 2013 to 0.56 kWh/kg of product by year end 2015, achieved by efficient planning processes and operating on continuous lines.
Saving energy in China
Energy and water can work in tandem to reduce the impact from operating water pumps at Axalta’s Jiading operations center in China. At the facility, there are three pumps, one variable speed and two frequency driven, each with a rated power of 4 kilowatts. Together these pumps provide the entire plant with potable water.
Under normal operating conditions, the variable speed pump will maintain water pressure at 5.5 bars. When water demand increases and the pressure drops to 4 bars, a second pump will start automatically. If the pressure drops even further to 3.5 bars, a third rated frequency pump will start. Once the water demand is restored to its original state, the two rated frequency pumps would continue to run, wasting energy.
The pump control mechanical design was modified so that when the load demand returns to its normal level, the rated frequency pump shuts off. With this modification, the idle running time of the other two pumps has been reduced from 20 hours per day to zero. This modification has helped reduce the energy consumption at the site by 57,600 kWh annually.
Lighting with Less
We have lighting replacement programs underway in several of our manufacturing facilities, most notably, our Mechelen site in Belgium, Jiading site in China, and Mt. Clemens site in Michigan, which have converted traditional lighting to more energy efficient LED lighting. The Mt. Clemens site has committed to replacing all incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs to LEDs. The bulbs will be replaced as they burn out. The site will use adaptor kits to retrofit the existing fixtures for LED lighting, therefore reducing the overall costs of replacing the bulbs. The new LED bulbs provide better lighting and lower energy costs for the plant with average savings of $24,000 per year for Mt. Clemens. These retrofits across the three plants will save an average of 300,000 kWh per year.
A key element of Axalta’s sustainability focus is the continued evaluation of our company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Since our 2013 Sustainability Report, we have improved our internal reporting practices of this data at the site level through standardized calculations and reporting methods. We are committed to reducing all of our emissions through improved work practices and, where appropriate, emissions control equipment.
In 2015, our direct GHG emissions (Scope 1) totaled 79,796 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, representing a 6 percent reduction over our 2013 direct GHG emissions. These are representative of the emissions from operations we directly own or control. We have seen an increase of 8 percent in our indirect GHG emissions (Scope 2) in 2015 compared with 2013.
While our total GHG emissions have remained virtually flat year over year, we have realized a 9 percent reduction of GHG emissions intensity (metric tons of emissions per metric ton of production), 0.42 in 2015 versus 0.46 in 2013. As indicated previously, Axalta has implemented opportunities to reduce our electricity usage by using more efficient equipment for heating and ventilation.
Axalta also monitors other air emissions to the environment from our processes and products, primarily volatile organic carbon (VOCs), hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), nitrous oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and particulate matter (PM). In 2015, our operations generated approximately 3.5 metric tons of PM. We are working on improving our efforts to track PM emissions across all our facilities.
Across our manufacturing locations, we have installed monitoring systems to track emissions of VOCs, which can have a range of potential health effects with overexposure. For example, in 2015, our Jiading site in China installed a carbon absorption and recovery system, reducing the site’s total VOC emissions from 4.77 tons/year to 0.24 tons/year. Our facilities continue to make improvements by providing closed-loading applications in our manufacturing areas, which drastically reduces the amount of VOCs released to the atmosphere.
VOC emissions and haps
NOX and SOX emissions