Saving water and electricity in Switzerland

Novozymes Switzerland has succeeded in reducing use of water, electricity and fuel considerably.

Over the last four years, Novozymes Switzerland has made an effort to save resources used in the administration and laboratory building. And it has paid off. In the four years since 2003, the building has reduced its use of water by 65%, its use of electricity by 27%, and its use of fuel by 29%. The numbers of employees working in the building has remained the same over the four years.

Benchmark at the start

To improve performance, you have to know where you stand at the start. So the first challenge for the project was to get the needed measurement systems in place.

“We were often told that there was no point in measuring resources used in the administration building, because the big users were surely in the production and warehouse buildings”, says Roger Bentele, Quality, Safety and Environmental Manager for Novozymes Switzerland. “So it came as a big surprise to see that our small administration building used almost the same resources as the warehouse and production put together!”.

Once the benchline measurements were done, it was possible to identify the areas that consumed the most resources, and to initiate the most effective actions. During the first two years, the Swiss Management Team included energy saving targets into the bonus-relevant goals for all employees. This helped a lot to raise awareness and the more people included environmental thoughts in their daily behaviour, the more ideas and proposals were collected.

Equipment and behavior both important

Some of the savings came from investment in new equipment. For example, the laboratories need desalted water. The existing equipment was oversized and generated a lot of waste water. Now, it has been replaced by new, but smaller equipment which is operated at optimal capacity.

Sometimes it was just to challenge existing procedures and to change the behaviour. For example, changing the way of operating the baking ovens in the department researching enzymes for the bakery industry laboratories has led to significant savings in electricity.

“Those savings maybe look small compared with the total Novozymes consumption of resources. But each single saving contributes to a sustainable use of resources”, says Roger Bentele.