American Foods Group (AFG) of Green Bay, Wis. was recently honored for earning the prestigious Wisconsin Governor's Award for Excellence in Energy Management. This award is in recognition of American Foods Group's dedication to adopt energy-efficient and sustainable practices in Wisconsin. AFG, home to 1,500 employees, harvests 2,100 head of cattle daily and sends its meat products to grocery stores and food service establishments nationwide.

With the help of Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, in partnership with Wisconsin Public Service and more than $437,000 in financial incentives, the beef processor has launched aggressive energy saving efforts and continues to investigate new technologies and find more ways to save energy throughout its business.

Since 2009, American Foods Group has saved more than four million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 234,000 therms of natural gas annually—enough energy to power 650 Wisconsin homes for a year. The company will also benefit from $572,000 in savings on its energy bills each year.

To reduce energy usage American Foods Group implemented several energy-efficiency projects at its plant including:

  • Installing a ThermoSorber, which uses steam to heat water and to cool liquid ammonia. Since AFG uses large amounts of hot water and has a large ammonia refrigeration system this technology has saved the company $10,000 per month in energy costs.
  • Utilizing a condensing economizer on two of its boilers to recover waste heat and reuse it in the boiler make-up water.
  • Upgrading to energy-efficient lighting and installing occupancy sensors throughout its warehouse.
  • Installing an anaerobic digester that is fueled by paunch manure from the harvested cattle. The digester, equipped with two 600-kilowatt generator sets, can produce 1,200 kilowatts of electricity per hour.
  • Starting an energy management team and making energy efficiency a key consideration in all project planning.
  • Attending Focus on Energy training courses.
  • Keeping up with preventive maintenance which improves equipment operating efficiency.
  • Completing numerous feasibility studies to examine its systems and find custom solutions to save energy.

The annual environmental benefits of the American Foods Group efficiency efforts are equivalent to offsetting more than 12,000 barrels of oil from being burned – eliminating four million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere.

"Energy efficiency has really helped our bottom line," said Bucky Derouin, plant engineer at American Foods Group. "We started an energy team eight years ago and it's been very rewarding to see all that we've accomplished. Focus has been a big help doing a lot of the legwork and research on projects."

And AFG isn't stopping there. Its energy management team continues to move forward, identifying and acting on new opportunities with Focus on Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"We're proud to honor American Foods Group with the Governor's Award for Excellence in Energy Management," said Ken Williams, Focus on Energy's business programs director. "We applaud their commitment to efficiency and recognize them as positive examples for other businesses to follow."

Since 2001, Focus on Energy has delivered cost effective energy solutions to Wisconsin consumers, farms, and businesses. Focus can help businesses identify and evaluate energy saving opportunities, develop energy management plans, and arrange technical training opportunities about energy conservation – helping improve bottom lines and lower operating cost. For more information on Focus on Energy, call 800-762-7077 or visit www.focusonenergy.com.

About American Foods Group
American Foods Group's growth in the beef industry has made them an efficient partner for customers. AFG is a privately-held family business. Even with its growth and success, one thing has remained the same, AFG is a tight-knit group of hard working people who care about its customers, and each other.