Water heater plant earns LEED silver

An A. O. Smith manufacturing facility in Johnson City, Tenn., earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification. 

The 470,000-sq.-ft. Johnson City facility manufactures residential and light commercial gas and electric water heaters.

Johnson City is the first A. O. Smith facility awarded LEED certification. To achieve LEED certification, given by the U. S. Green Building Council, a facility’s operation and maintenance must meet specific standards in energy efficiency, environmentally responsible business practices and maintaining a healthy work environment.

“This certification is the result of more than five years of work by the Johnson City team to reduce energy and water consumption, improve efficiency and reduce cost,” said Ajita Rajendra, president and chief operating officer of A. O. Smith. “It demonstrates the team’s commitment to operating to world-class standards in every facet of the business.”

Among the short-term and long-term initiatives that enabled Johnson City to earn the LEED certification were:

• Reducing water usage for compressed air cooling by $80,000 per year;
• Reducing the annual water usage in restrooms by 25% per year;
• Efficient lighting and ventilation systems that resulted in annual electricity savings of more than $40,000;
• A “green” cleaning program that reduced chemical costs by $5,000; and
• A long-term recycling program that has achieved cost savings of more than $30,000 per year.

In its submission to the Green Building Council, the plant listed its lighting and ventilation system and water usage programs as “innovative practices.” The Johnson City team customized a purchased software package to automate the building’s ventilation system. A series of 17 temperature sensors throughout the building enable staff to monitor and control the system to deliver improved efficiency.

The system has enabled the plant to reduce its energy consumption, as well as the amount of water required for its air-cooling compressors.