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2020 August Member Webinar | Jerry Zolkowski

How Industrial Energy Projects Get Done

by Jerry Zolkowski, PE, CEM, Principal Engineer at DNVGL

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 | 2:00-3:00pm (EDT) 

While energy consumption and efficiency are a concern for most companies, it is not a top issue.  In fact, energy efficiency may not even be on the radar.  It is trumped by more pressing problems such as meeting customer demands, workforce capacity, quality, and reliability.

Since these concerns affect the very core operation of a business, saving energy is a lower priority.  This is compounded by the fact that energy spend at most sites is a minor cost (less than 6%).  Because of the money and effort it takes to execute energy efficiency projects, these projects are pushed lower on the list of importance.

Yet companies are actively implementing energy efficiency improvements.  The reasons vary and include the following:

  • Some projects, such as lighting, have a good payback based only on energy savings.  
  • Antiquated equipment eventually gets replaced, and new efficiencies are included.   
  • Expansions bring new capacity that may offer far better efficiency.
  • Market demands for greener products. 

Some ways efficiency projects are implemented in this business environment:

  • An energy review for capital expenditures. 
  • Selling projects that also contribute to business goals such as higher reliability, lower maintenance, or greener products.
  • An active identification process for new projects.

Manufacturers exist to make a product, not save energy.  Using less energy contributes to the company goals of staying profitable, but not as much as other improvements.  For energy use to improve in this environment, energy projects must coexist and support other business goals.


Jerry Zolkowski, PE, CEM, is a Principal Engineer at DNVGL. He has worked on the Consumers Energy Business Energy Efficiency Program in Michigan since 2013 with a focus on making industrial plants more efficient.  He can be contacted at: [email protected]

Prior employment includes:

2.5 years at Dow Corning, the world leader in silicones, supporting global manufacturing energy efficiency efforts; and 6 years finding and evaluating energy conservation opportunities for Shaw Industries’ manufacturing operations.  Shaw has over 50 manufacturing plants and is the country’s largest carpet producer.  Also 10 years at the state industrial extension service at Georgia Tech.  That work included energy conservation, environmental compliance, and plant & design engineering. 

Education includes a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Columbus State College.