Purdy Corp. paints the way forward for energy savings


Since 1925, Purdy Corp. has been building paint brushes with an unwavering commitment to quality and attention to detail—a dedication so strong that the company’s brushmakers apply their personal decals to each brush. Employees at Purdy’s Portland facility applied that same commitment to slash the facility’s energy operating costs.

“Over two years, we’ve saved 6.35 percent on electricity costs and 12 percent on natural gas costs,” said Brenda Demaree, facility and sustainability manager, Purdy Corp.

Purdy achieved these savings by taking advantage of a variety of support and resources from Energy Trust of Oregon, most notably by participating in Strategic Energy Management (SEM). First, Purdy made simple behavioral changes and no- or low-cost operations and maintenance improvements, which were learned through the SEM initiative. In addition to SEM workshops that employees attended with other area organizations, Purdy received one-on-one training from Energy Trust technical experts and tools to help track progress over time.

Here’s what happened along their SEM journey:

Purdy developed an energy policy and set a goal to reduce overall energy use in its facility by 2.5 percent each year—a goal they far exceeded. Employees established an energy team, made up of representatives throughout the facility, that meet monthly to track progress. Through SEM, employees examined all facility equipment and processes, looking for opportunities and taking action to cut energy waste. Some of the learnings implemented include:

  • Implementing a plan to identify, tag and repair compressed air leaks, which can be a big source of energy waste;
  • Adjusting the sequencing of compressors and tuning controls to better match operation needs;
  • Examining temperature set points throughout the facility, adjusting them to better match occupancy and production schedules, and installing new controls where needed;
  • Caulking and sealing to prevent air leaks;
  • Installing occupancy sensors on lighting;

During SEM, Energy Trust also helped Purdy identify cost-effective capital projects that would deliver additional savings. “We purchased a new energy-efficient mixing machine that allowed us to remove two inefficient mixing machines from service and recycle them,” said Demaree. The new machine offers additional advantages of less downtime and easier cleanup, improving the overall production process.

Purdy also received Energy Trust cash incentives based on achieved energy savings. After multiple years of participation, SEM gave Purdy employees the long-term skills to realize significant and persistent energy savings and helped their efforts become self-sustaining.  Employees are now able to maintain and find additional savings on their own.

“Because of SEM, we now do things differently throughout the plant, and one of the most important lessons we learned is about employee awareness,” said Demaree. “We post our results so all employees can see our goals, our energy use and our success. Keeping employees engaged will be critical to maintaining momentum and making sure savings persist into the future.”

Energy Trust congratulates Purdy on a job well done, which they’ll benefit from for years to come.

To learn how your company can benefit from Strategic Energy Management, visit www.energytrust.org/industrialSEM.