Lehigh University IAC Helping Manufacturers Reduce Carbon Emissions
By Colin McEvoy on August 9, 2021
Lehigh University will be part of a national initiative to assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers in reducing their carbon emissions and lowering energy costs, while training the next generation of energy-efficiency workers.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this month announced $60 million in funding for its largest-ever cohort of university-based Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs). Lehigh is one of 32 universities participating across 28 states, and the only one from the state of Pennsylvania.
“Lehigh University is nationally recognized for its excellence in research and leading innovations, and this selection as an Industrial Assessment Center reflects its strength as an institution and commitment to our community,” said U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (PA-07).
“This choice will allow Lehigh to continue and expand upon its work to create jobs, reduce emissions, and promote sustainability among our manufacturers,” Wild said. “I’m thrilled that a pillar of the Greater Lehigh Valley is getting the recognition it deserves from the Department of Energy.”
Lehigh University’s IAC is currently conducting energy assessments for some manufacturing companies located in the Lehigh Valley. The program can help participating plants save up to 30% on energy bills, said Abhinay Soanker, Graduate Mechanical Engineer and IAC Research Assistant at Lehigh.
The program can also provide energy efficiency and best practices training for plant personnel, provide detailed reports and analyses of plant-wide energy consumption and saving opportunities, and provide information about state-of-the-art technologies, industrial equipment and available state and federal rebates, Soanker said.
Visit the Lehigh University IAC website for more information, including eligibility requirements for manufacturing companies to participate.
Manufacturing comprises $7.1 billion (or 16.3%) of Lehigh Valley’s $43.4 billion economy, making it the second largest sector of the regional gross domestic product. The Lehigh Valley has about 700 manufacturers employing about 33,000 people, and the sector added 5,000 jobs from 2014 to 2019.
The DOE’s $60 million investment will help remove barriers to decarbonization across the manufacturing sector and advance the Biden Administration’s goal of achieving a clean energy economy, said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
This new cohort of IACs at 32 universities will focus on improving productivity, enhancing cybersecurity, promoting resiliency planning, and providing training to entities located in disadvantaged communities.
The cohort will also engage in a new pilot project to expand to the commercial building market. As part of the pilot, selected IACs will partner with community colleges and technical programs to train diverse students and professionals to conduct energy-efficiency assessments of small to medium-sized buildings, including those located in disadvantaged communities.
“America’s best and brightest university students are successfully helping local manufacturers reduce pollution, save energy, and cut their electricity bills,” Granholm said.
“DOE’s university-based Industrial Assessment Centers are assisting small- and medium-sized businesses – particularly those in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities – in the transition to a clean energy economy, building the next-generation energy workforce, and propelling America toward a carbon-free future by 2050,” she said.
To date, the IACs program, one of DOE’s longest-running programs managed by the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), has provided nearly 20,000 no-cost assessments for small- and medium-sized manufacturers and more than 147,000 recommendations for improvement measures.
Assessments typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities.
A collection of all publicly available assessment and recommendation data is available online in the IAC Database and the database can be searched by industry type, company size, date, products, and energy costs.
This announcement is part of DOE’s 2021 Future of Manufacturing campaign, which seeks to create a resilient American manufacturing future that supports economy-wide decarbonization. Visit the AMO website for more information about the campaign.
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