Water, Electricity and Heating

Interview: Mika Mustonen, Maintenance Manager

Total % change 2008-2016: 24.70%

Total % change 2008-2016: 13.80%

Total % change 2008-2016: 36.80%

Over the nearly ten years since Mika Mustonen joined Saga Furs, he’s been committed to reducing  energy and water use in the company’s overall operations, and, as the numbers show, he’s achieved commendable success. General electricity use has been cut by 25%; electricity for heating is down by close to 14%; and water use down by nearly 37%.

The biggest reason for the fall in water consumption has come from the retrofit of the head office ventilation system from, 2009 to 2012, replacing so-called cell humidifiers with significantly more effective steam humidifiers.

With regards energy use, in spring 2009, Mustonen began the ongoing process of renewing office automation ensuring that machines and equipment operate reliably and economically. Consumption of district heat has been reduced by the renewal of building technology and the upgrading of heat recovery equipment. Under Mustonen’s watchful eye, the company is also actively monitoring machine running times and making optimisation adjustments.

But there are challenges due to the nature of the business, which directly affects consumption levels. For example, if skins are left out of stock for a long time, they must be stored in conditions as cool and moist as possible. “This adds to our energy consumption in summer time in direct correlation to the volume of skins being stored in house and to the length of time they are there,” Mustonen explains.

During the period between 2009 and 2012, Mustonen embarked on a project to replace hall lighting and lighting controls, including halving the number of fluorescent tube lights in the company. This has had a pronounced effect on electricity use. Mustonen has also been looking into the future possibility of converting the company’s warehouse lighting into long life LED lights. The plan would potentially involve the installation of 6,400 LED lights.

“However, it’s not a clear cut as you would think,” says Mustonen. “While the plan would reduce costs and energy use, Finland’s cold climate must also be factored into the decision.” It turns out that a lighting retrofit will bring down the amount of heat generated by lights, which would then have to be offset by the heating spend. So that discussion is still on the table.

Naturally, temperature variations in winter and summer heating affect usage but there are also seasonal effects, for example, the amount of production that must take place during evening shifts affects consumption as well as peak use during auction times which spikes up significantly four times a year.

But for Mustonen cutting energy and water use at the operational level is only part of the story, “I’m working every day to motivate our employees to reduce their individual environmental footprint. And we’re seeing some good effects thanks to the whole team.”