Colorado State Center Provides Free Evaluations to Reduce Energy, Increase Production and Save Companies an Average of $55,000 Per Year

The Colorado State University Industrial Assessment Center provides free energy efficiency, pollution prevention and productivity improvement assessments to qualifying regional small and mid-sized manufacturing companies. On average, the center’s recommendations save each assessed business more than $55,000 per year.

The Industrial Assessment Center, one of 26 nationwide centers supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, is housed in Colorado State’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The center offers no-cost evaluations with the goal of reducing energy costs, decreasing pollution, improving efficiency, increasing profitability and enhancing competitiveness for small to medium-sized manufacturers while also providing practical industrial experience for students.

"With the support of the DOE, Colorado State’s Industrial Assessment Center is making regional manufacturers more competitive in the global marketplace while simultaneously reducing pollution, saving millions of dollars for businesses and creating a stream of engineers who have valuable hands-on experience," said Harry Edwards, director of the center and professor of mechanical engineering. "In addition, a great deal of what we learn during these assessments filters back to all of our students through classroom instruction."

Beginning in June and extending throughout the summer, a team of Colorado State students and their advisers are conducting a variety of assessments including evaluations at three manufacturing plants in Montana, three additional plants in New Mexico and two gold mines in Nevada.

Assessments are conducted by a team of 10 to 12 graduate and upper-level undergraduate engineering students under the direction of Edwards. Evaluations begin with a pre-assessment survey analysis followed by an on-site visit where students take engineering measurements and perform audits to determine how each facility uses energy and resources.

With guidance from professors, the team then prepares a confidential report detailing the analysis, findings and specific recommendations with related estimates of costs, performance and payback times. The team conducts a follow-up evaluation six to twelve months after the assessment.

"By means of thorough examinations of energy efficiency improvements, waste minimization, pollution prevention and productivity improvement, Colorado State’s recommendations have saved regional manufacturers anywhere from $500 to over $800,000," Edwards said.

Results from a Colorado State University Industrial Assessment Center evaluation were recently publicized at a DOE-industry showcase highlighting the center’s energy assessment at Alcoa’s aluminum plant in Spanish Fork, Utah. Recommendations, including specific details about reducing peak electric demand, reducing compressed air leaks and installing a furnace charging system, will save the company an estimated $843,630 with an implementation cost of $393,230 and a six-month payback.

In operation at Colorado State since 1984, the Industrial Assessment Center program has established a record of quality performance in improving the efficiency of more than 500 manufacturing plants in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada and Utah. Colorado State students conduct about 25 plant assessments per year.

The Industrial Assessment Center is funded to provide technical assistance to manufacturers designated by the DOE as industries of the future, including aluminum, glass, chemicals, steel, agriculture, forest products, metal casting, mining and petroleum. These nine industries account for about 75 percent of the U.S. industrial energy use and supply more than 90 percent of the raw materials for the U.S. economy.

Manufacturers eligible for free assessments must be an industry of the future or a supplier to or customer of an industry of the future. In addition, any three of the following criteria must be met: must have $100,000 per year to $2 million per year total energy costs; must have a maximum of 500 employees; must have a maximum of $100 million per year gross annual sales; and must lack in-house professional expertise in energy use and conservation.

To find out more information about Colorado State’s Industrial Assessment Center, call (970) 491-5317 or visit the Web at