Energy Efficiency

Energy Management

We continue to work on further improving our energy data measurement and reporting capabilities. By the end of 2015, one third of our plants were using a comprehensive energy information system, enabling us to better understand and manage energy consuming processes in our operations and improve total system performance. Other plants are realizing significant energy savings using smaller scope energy monitoring. We will continue installing additional energy monitoring devices in our operations going forward.

Line control optimization is one opportunity for improvements. When production lines stand still for short periods of time, not all equipment needs full power. By installing variable frequency drives (VFDs), we slow or shut down certain systems to realize energy savings. For instance, once VFDs were installed in the process ovens at our Fairfield, California, facility in 2015, electricity and natural gas savings totaled more than 1 million kilowatt hours a year for a complete return on investment in less than 18 months.


In an aluminum beverage can manufacturing plant, air compressors consume most of the electricity (between 20 and 30 percent). We audit our compressed air systems and optimize performance by reducing system pressure, minimizing wasteful air use and leaks, and decreasing manufacturing equipment demand. We continued to install more efficient compressors and connected additional equipment to low-pressure systems during the reporting period. At the end of 2015, 38 percent of our plants operated dual-air systems that supply equipment with either high- or low-pressure air. Compared to traditional systems that rely only on high pressure, dual-air systems reduce the energy needed to supply the total air pressure needed.

Within our operations, ovens are used for further processing cans after they have been washed, coated and inked. These ovens account for up to 75 percent of a beverage can plant’s natural gas usage and up to 20 percent of its electricity usage. Through oven audits, low-cost optimization projects and increased employee awareness of oven energy use and associated costs, we have realized natural gas efficiency gains in our can businesses of 15 percent since we started the audits in 2011.



A regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) is a pollution control system that uses high temperatures to destroy volatile organic compounds emitted during can coating processes. RTOs normally operate using natural gas and are thermal efficient, meaning the media in an RTO retains and transfers heat, which lowers the amount of natural gas needed. While we continue to capture heat from the RTO for multiple purposes in our plants, we were also successful in taking the heat from other equipment.

Our Saratoga Springs, New York, beverage can plant has a multi-year track record of improving energy efficiency. In 2014, employees engineered a method to recover heat from the plant’s closed-loop cooling water system and reuse it for incoming process water.

When water circulates through air compressors, coolers, air dryers, vacuum pumps, decorator inkers and various other process equipment, it removes heat created during the manufacturing processes. Before the heated water reaches the cooling tower, it now travels through a heat exchanger that transfers the heat to incoming makeup water, which is then used in the can washing process. The water is then transferred to the cooling tower at a lower temperature; reducing the load on the cooling tower, which utilizes energy to cool the water. During periods of high humidity, the system previously experienced heat pump failures, compressor inefficiencies, and air dryer faulting due to high temperatures.

Reducing the cooling tower’s load benefits the plant through increased performance during hot summer days and by reducing operating costs throughout the year. The plant noted a heat reduction of about 22 percent of the cooling tower capacity with an additional 20 percent reduction in cooling tower fan speed – both extending the life of the tower. To date, the project has recorded water savings of at least 2,000 gallons per day from water typically lost in the cooling tower due to evaporation and natural gas savings of 90 kilowatt hours per day, equal to $18,000 per year.

With a total project cost of approximately $25,000, the direct savings from gas, electricity, water and improved efficiency of the compressors will cover this expense in less than a year.

Beverage Cans on Line


Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control during the heating season is another energy efficiency opportunity. Central control systems and higher awareness of HVAC-related energy usage and costs are driving progress. We identify optimal temperatures for different areas within a plant and educate employees on how they can achieve these temperatures with the lowest energy input. Installing heat curtains, for example, reduces heat or cooling loss.

Though Ball Aerospace only accounts for less than 2 percent of Ball’s energy consumption, optimizing energy usage is a high priority for this business. Cleanroom operations are a major energy usage area. In these rooms, the levels of environmental pollutants, such as dust and microbes, are reduced to enable sensitive aerospace instruments and other technologies to be manufactured and tested. We continue making improvements to reduce energy consumption in operating these cleanrooms. For example, we recently modified the HVAC automation control system for one of our large cleanrooms to reduce air flow during unoccupied hours (weekday nights and weekends). The estimated electricity reduction is about 1 million kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to more than 758 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.


During the reporting period, lighting was a priority for our energy engineers. While it is crucial to provide adequate lighting to keep our employees safe and so they can execute their jobs effectively, lights do not need to be continually at full power. Between 2014 and 2015, more than half of our plants began LED conversion projects, with 10 percent of our plants undergoing complete conversions to LED lighting. One-third include adaptive lighting control options to further increase efficiency by matching the light levels to occupancy and daylight availability.

Compared to conventional lighting, a completely converted LED plant with both lights and respective controls saves about 75 percent lighting electricity, with 55 percent of this savings from the LED and 45 percent from the controls. In addition to LED lighting, we are seeking opportunities to better utilize daylight in our facilities by installing skylights.



A team effort is required to achieve our plant energy reduction goals. That is why several facilities established formal voluntary energy conservation or broader sustainability teams.  Ball's metal beverage packaging plant in Williamsburg, Virginia, has a multi-year track record of engaging its employees in energy conservation efforts and improving energy efficiency. Between 2010 and 2015, the plant improved its energy efficiency by 7 percent. And the team in Williamsburg continues to develop and test new ideas to further maximize the value of our existing businesses.