W.R. Grace & Company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy with the Energy Saver Award for the company’s manufacturing operations in Irondale, Ala.

To qualify for the distinction, the facility reduced its total energy usage by more than 9 percent in 2009 and participated in an energy assessment done by a recognized Department of Energy expert affiliated with the Alabama Industrial Assessment Center at the University of Alabama.

The reductions were primarily in electricity and gas usage. Employees improved overall pressure in the site’s compressed air system, shut off pilot lights, and installed programmable thermostats on plant heaters and HVAC in the office areas and break rooms. The company expects to realize energy savings of 1,091 million Btu annually from these actions and related activities. Grace has already recouped its investment in the energy savings equipment.

Grace was officially announced as an award recipient at the Energy Efficiency Global Forum held in Washington, D.C., on May 10, 2010. The international event focused on energy efficiency from the perspective of all energy end-use sectors, including buildings, industrial and transportation.

The Irondale site is a manufacturing facility for MONOKOTE fireproofing materials that protect structural steel from failure in the event of fire. The products provide a formidable last line of defense and can be found in many types of buildings, including high-rise construction, manufacturing facilities, schools, hospitals and sports facilities. In the production of many of these products, the facility recycles polystyrene, a commonly found packaging material made of non-biodegradable plastic resins. In-house engineers pioneered a proprietary process for reusing expandable polystyrene during manufacturing.

This is the second energy distinction earned by the company during May. Grace was recognized by the American Chemistry Council earlier with the Responsible Care® Energy Efficiency Award for efforts at manufacturing operations in Lake Charles, La., and Baltimore (Curtis Bay), Md. Collectively, these two sites reduced natural gas and electricity usage by 122 billion BTUs throughout 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

“These actions will assist us in meeting our sustainability goal of reducing the energy intensity of our global operations by 20 percent per pound of production by 2017,” commented William Corcoran, Grace’s vice president of public and regulatory affairs. “No matter the size of the Grace facility, we can all help realize reductions.”

Grace is a leading global supplier of catalysts and other products to petroleum refiners; catalysts for the manufacture of plastics; silica-based engineered and specialty materials for a wide range of industrial applications; sealants and coatings for food and beverage packaging, and specialty chemicals, additives and building materials for commercial and residential construction. Founded in 1854, Grace has operations in over 40 countries.