Bakers Journal

Bakeries and energy

April 23, 2010
By J Lynn Fraser

Energy. Our bodies need it, and our businesses need it. But both need
to use energy efficiently to function at their highest level.

Energy. Our bodies need it, and our businesses need it. But both need to use energy efficiently to function at their highest level.

Energy audits by a professional will enable a business to find areas where energy efficiency can be improved. Acting on an auditor’s recommendations will not only improve your environmental sustainability, but can also boost your bottom line.

“We will always recommend an energy audit to review all the opportunities to reduce energy and take advantage of various incentive programs,” notes James Mann, a consulting engineer and president of Mann Engineering Ltd. “The energy audit would review lighting technologies, HVAC, windows, controls, solar systems and heat recovery options.”


In 2006 Weston Foods performed an energy audit on its five bakeries to locate areas of energy consumption and to pinpoint areas to save energy costs. Lighting, compressed air system controls and demand management of peak power usage were areas identified as needing increased efficiency. It was estimated that, after an initial investment and cost recovery period, the bakeries could each save $250,000 per year.

James Mann, a consulting engineer and president of Mann Engineering Ltd.

Francisca Quinn, a sustainability practice leader for Loop Initiatives.


Oakrun Farm Bakery in Ancaster, Ont., went through an energy audit in 2001. It found nine areas for energy savings, including refrigeration and compressed air systems. The bakery has hired a “sustainability expert who is taking the bakery through a lifecycle analysis,” according to senior vice-president Tony Tristani. This “cradle-to-grave” assessment looks at raw material inputs, distribution, lighting, manufacturing, packaging, distribution and recycling materials.

Toronto’s StoneMill Bakehouse (SMB) decreased its energy use by 12 per cent in 2007 by retrofitting its bakery with T5 light fixtures, and light and motion sensors in all its common areas. SMB put timers on its equipment to close them down at the end of each cycle. All its machines, including some computer equipment, are shut off when not in use. SMB has also reduced its wastewater by 25 per cent by retrofitting its machinery.

According to the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors (AOFP), dealing with wastewater in the food and beverage industry accounts for eight per cent of production costs. AOFP has developed a resource, available on CD-ROM, called “Toolbox for Water and Waste Conservation” to help companies develop waste and wastewater reduction initiatives.

The 2001 Commercial and Institutional Building Energy Use Survey (CIBEUS) surveyed more than 137,000 commercial and institutional buildings in Canada. It found that 40 per cent of those buildings were constructed pre-1960 and 25 per cent of them were more than 80 years old. A government report by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy found that space heating in commercial buildings accounted for half of all the energy used – 51 per cent. Water heating, refrigeration and lighting accounted for 14, 9 and 7 per cent of energy use, respectively. Bakery owners can improve their company’s energy efficiency by addressing areas of energy loss in the buildings that house their businesses.

Retrofitting for energy efficiency
Established bakeries can benefit from retrofitting. The National Research Council’s ecoENERGY Retrofit program, according to Melissa Sutherland, Chief of Retrofit and Assessment, will provide up to 25 per cent of a retrofit project’s cost up to $50,000 and up to $250,000 “per corporate entity.” These retrofit projects, Sutherland notes, help decrease water, waste and energy costs.

Each province provides opportunities for businesses to reduce energy consumption. The Ontario Power Authority, for example, offers the Feed-in Tariff Program (FIT) that promotes renewable energy generation through bioenergy, biomass, landfill gas and water and wind power. Through solar panels, for instance, FIT enables a business “to sell power to the grid through a ‘revenue metre’ at an attractive rate of up to 80.2 cents per kilowatt hour and to purchase energy using the regular meter at a much lower rate of approximately 10 cents per kilowatt hour,” according to Mann.

“The result is that you may actually get a cheque instead of paying for electricity each month,” he says.

Changes to a business or building to increase energy efficiency can be incremental or can be part of a building’s purposed design. Blair McCarry, strategic sustainability advisor for the British Columbia architecture firm Busby Perkins + Will, notes that skylights, north-facing windows, and use of daylight will decrease energy costs. Solar energy can be used for electricity as well as for heating water. Geothermal heating and cooling in floors, McCarry notes, can be used to heat rooms in winter and cool them in summer.

“White roofs” or “cool roofs” are a new trend in designing for sustainability. According to Chris Rickett, senior project manager for Project Green (part of Toronto and Region Conservation), flat roofs are covered in white paint or a white-coloured rubber membrane or stone, which reflects heat from a building. This reduces a building’s cooling costs and the heat island effect in cities. For buildings that house food-processing facilities, white roofs are an alternative to green roofs, which might not meet CFIA requirements.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for buildings is an industry standard that is increasingly sought for new building construction and retrofitting. LEED refers to sustainable design in five important areas: site development, water and energy efficiency, material selection and indoor environment quality. New and existing bakeries can be designed to meet LEED

standards and thereby reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Energy efficiency is about more than electricity use
“Operational behaviour is important,” notes Cher Brethour, director of sustainability services at Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC), adding that employee involvement can increase a company’s sustainability efforts by 16 per cent. GFTC offers assessment and consulting services designed to increase sustainable productivity for the food and beverage industries. Its customizable consulting and assessment services are designed to adapt more than a business’s processes and machinery; employees must also be wholeheartedly involved.

Increasing energy efficiency is about changing attitudes and behaviour.

“The key emphasis is to have a process and a system to track everything, and to make this a part of everyday business,” says Francisca Quinn, the sustainability practice leader for Loop Initiatives, a firm that advises companies about their sustainability needs. “There should be a senior person in place who monitors the business’s energy footprint.”

“It’s about doing the right thing and reinvigorating the business,” Tristani concludes.

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