The City of Palm Bay provides its residents and businesses with opportunities to enhance the quality of their lives while living and working in an affordable and safe environment. One of its ultimate goals, “sustainable growth” is an inherent characteristic of Palm Bay as stated in its motto, “A Perfect Place to Grow.” In an effort to build good places for people to live and to be good environmental stewards, Palm Bay is inspired to be a sustainable community and to lead by example.
Here are some highlights of City sustainable initiatives:
Palm Bay Utilities
PBUD Included as Case Study in EPA Resource Guide
1 of 4 Utilities Spotlighed for Effective Utility Management and Lean Efforts
In October 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Resource Guide to Effective Utility Management and Lean, highlighting the City of Palm Bay’s efforts to effectively and efficiently manage its water and wastewater utility. As one of four utilities chosen nationally, Palm Bay’s case study focuses on operational optimization at its treatment facilities and organizational process improvements which resulted in improved financial viability for the utility.
The purpose of the resource guide is to explain how water-sector utilities can utilize resources such as Lean and Six Sigma along with the Effective Utility Management framework to improve operations and meet the challenges of aging infrastructures and workforces, dwindling resources, and increasing regulations.
Palm Bay Utilities Department (PBUD) began implementing Lean and Six Sigma methods in 2008 with the establishment of its ISO 14001:2004 certified Environmental Management System known as GreenWay. The utility’s primary areas of focus for improvement include: energy use; production, handling and disposal of biosolids; and environment, safety, and health of the workforce.
As a result of Lean and Effective Utility Management improvement efforts, energy costs have been reduced by 39.8 percent for the water and wastewater treatment facilities at Palm Bay since the baseline year 2008 through 2012. Less energy consumption at the utility’s treatment plants has also decreased the production of greenhouse gas emissions from electrical generation by 16.8 percent.
“Through leadership development and training to raise environmental and safety awareness, our employees are recognizing ways to continually improve our operations and how to positively and effectively implement improvements,” said Dan Roberts, utilities director. Continuous improvement efforts of employees have saved the organization over $1.15 million. Most importantly, employees are proactively seeking ways to reduce waste throughout the organization’s operations and working to improve utility products and services for customers.
To learn more about the Palm Bay Utilities Department’s sustainability efforts or to view the EPA’s Resource Guide to Effective Utility Management and Lean visit www.pbud.org.
EMS Guides PBUD’s Quest for Excellence
GreenWay Sets High Expectations for Employees with Environmental Focus
In 2007, Palm Bay Utilities Department set out to make a cultural change throughout its organization that promoted environmental awareness and stewardship in all its daily operations – from the departmental recycling program to environmentally friendly purchasing and increased plant efficiency. PBUD has incorporated these and other “green” initiatives by successfully implementing its environmental management system (EMS) called GreenWay, and the department has seen improved performance and significant reductions in energy consumption and costs.
Utility and City management, with the support of local elected officials, began the multifaceted process of implementing an EMS within the organization, starting with the fundamentals – a complete overhaul of the department’s policies and standard operating procedures (SOPs). In order to institutionalize the system and make it part of the organization’s culture a Core Team and Implementation Team composed of staff members was established to communicate the value of the EMS to other members all throughout the organization. The framework used to develop the EMS centered around the total quality management model known as “plan, do, check, act” (PDCA). The PDCA model proposes that organizations evaluate, analyze and change processes when improvement is needed. During an 18-month period, the department engaged personnel in revising standard operating procedures and policies; implementing environmental, health and safety training; and increasing overall employee awareness of the EMS. On August 4, 2008, after much preparation and groundwork, PBUD became the first utility in Florida (public or private) to have its water and wastewater treatment facilities concurrently registered under the ISO 14001:2004 standard for environmental management systems.
PBUD understands that its role in the community is vital to the well-being of the public and more specifically its customer base of over 31,000 accounts. GreenWay is helping to ensure that the utility is making every effort to protect the environment and minimize any harmful effects it may have on the world around it. The ISO 14001 standard is based on a strong commitment to regulatory compliance, pollution prevention and continual improvement. The EMS enables PBUD to anticipate changes and increase the organization’s overall efficiency.
Article in Alliance for Innovation Newsletter. March 1, 2010.
PBUD’s Plant Efficiency Programs Pay Off
Utility has experienced a 34% Reduction in Energy Costs
Water and wastewater utilities are major energy users. It takes a significant amount of electrical power to treat and process both potable (drinkable) water and wastewater. Therefore, plant efficiency was a foremost concern for Palm Bay Utilities Department in regards to its environmental management system. How could the organization continue to provide a superb quality product (drinking water) and the treatment of wastewater while reducing its consumption of energy? Was it even possible?
PBUD engineering and plant operations personnel established a plant efficiency program to identify opportunities for cost savings at each of the department’s treatment facilities. By implementing and using a Six Sigma process, PBUD conducted efficiency studies for its water and wastewater treatment plants. Study results provided numerous cost-saving initiatives that were quickly implemented; some of the recommendations were quite simple, such as turning off lights, regulating heating and cooling and making service routes more efficient. More significant recommendations included reducing plant operating hours, installing variable-frequency drives to efficiently and effective operate treatment processes, and tracking each plant’s electrical and chemical costs per 1,000 gallons of water produced or treated.
PBUD set an annual goal to achieve a 10% reduction in electrical cost per 1,000 gallons of water produced by all plants. In order to achieve the organization’s annual target, utilities personnel have made process changes to allow each treatment plant to run at its most efficient capacity. In doing so, operating costs have been reduced as well as chemical and labor costs. This energy use reduction is being maintained through the use of the control plan which is part of the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process. Since 2008, the PBUD has experienced a combined 34% reduction in energy costs at its water and wastewater treatment facilities. These energy and cost savings help the Utility stabilize rates, ultimately benefitting the customer.
Biosolids Production and Handling
Belt-filter Press Improves Operations and Provides Significant Savings
The treatment of wastewater is one of those “dirty” jobs that requires staff to be aware of specific safety measures and also have an in-depth understanding of how to properly handle and dispose of the biosolid waste that is generated as part of the treatment process. The safe and effective generation, reduction, handling and disposal of this biosolid waste is a significant aspect that is being addressed through PBUD’s Environmental Management System.
In an effort to reduce the generation of liquid biosolids and reduce the cost of waste disposal, PBUD constructed a sludge dewatering facility in July 2010. The new facility disposes of the biosolids removed from wastewater much more efficiently than the previously used traditional methods. The sludge dewatering facility (also known as a belt filter press) removes or presses out the liquid that is part of the biosolid waste, and the liquid is then recycled through the wastewater treatment system. The remaining biosolid forms a cake-like product that weighs less and reduces the generation of waste as well as disposal cost for the utility.The sludge dewatering facility has provided an annual cost savings of approximately $300,000 for the Utilities Department. Prior to the new facility becoming operational, PBUD typically disposed of 20 truckloads per week of liquid waste. By utilizing the sludge dewatering facility, the department has reduced its disposal hauling rate to approximately 5 truckloads per week. In an effort to continue improving operations, the department plans to reduce and maintain a hauling rate of approximately 3 truckloads per week. The sludge dewatering facility has greatly enhanced efficiencies at the wastewater plant. For example, in 2009, the utilities department hauled approximately 1,300 loads of liquid sludge or 7.8 million gallons; however, in 2010 with the new facility online, the department hauled 182 loads of ‘cake’ sludge or 21.8 million gallons.