Unilever Ice Cream, Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese honored in dairy sustainability awards program
Unilever has reduced electricity use by 13%, natural gas use by 16% and water consumption by more than 1.1 million gallons per year.
Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese honored for Outstanding Achievement in Energy Efficiency.
Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese is a 35-acre dairy in Gooding, Idaho, Started in 1995 by Steve and Stacie Ballard with their son Travis, the family added a cheese facility adjacent to their barn in 2004 to take advantage of the milk from their Jersey herd.
The Ballards sought ways to reduce costs and viewed energy efficiency as a way to improve financial security, environmental impact and quality of life at their dairy. The family set a goal of reducing overhead by 10% and eliminating propane use.
An energy audit and a team of energy management experts helped design a comprehensive plan to achieve their goals. Multiple energy improvements, including solar thermal power for the hot water system, led to significant savings.
A summary of best practices
Hot Water System. Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese originally used a propane-fired steam boiler system, which was operating at 33% efficiency and consumed approximately 664 MMBTU per year.
The family decided to replace the boiler system with an evacuated tube collector solar thermal supply, heat pump and high-efficiency electric boiler. In making these upgrades, the dairy was able to switch from propane to all-electric, which resulted in a 50% reduction in fossil fuel use (due tothe electric provider’s energy mix).
The new system has helped the Ballards achieve a 67% energy savings. Solar thermal now supplies approximately 50% of their heating load. Designed to meet the needs of the dairy as it expands, the hot water system has already resulted in $15,000 in savings and a carbon dioxide reduction of 89,500 pounds.
LED Lighting, The dairy originally used a combination of incandescent, T-12 tube, halogen and high-intensity discharge lights. After evaluating the results of their energy audit, the Ballards upgraded all of their lighting to energy efficient LED. They also added automatic lighting controls to help capture additional savings.
Proof that small upgrades can make a big difference, the switch to LED lighting has resulted in an annual energy savings of 35,000 kilowat hours (kWh) and a cost savings of $2,500. And it’s good for the environment – the Ballards estimate that their dairy has reduced its carbon dioxide output by 5,500 pounds through this update.
Milk Cooling. The milk cooling system at Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese originally carried fresh milk at 100 F through a heat exchanger that used 60 F ground water to cool the milk. The milk left the heat exchanger at 80 F and was further cooled to 40 F in a chiller. The new system uses residual 40 F cold water from the heat pump system. This pre-cools the milk to 60 F and results in the chiller cooling the milk from 60 to 40 F. The Ballards also added a more efficient plate heat exchanger. By making a change to the milk cooling system, the Ballards identified an opportunity to reduce water use and save money. The upgrades save an estimated 1,000 gallons daily and provide relief to the depleted local aquifer.
The family also has achieved significant annual savings including cost savings of $2,000, energy savings of 27,000 kWh and carbon dioxide savings of 11,500 pounds. The total project cost for Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese was $130,000 with a 5.5-year payback period and a simple ROI of 18 percent. The total annual savings from the energy reduction upgrades is $23,700 – more than 10% of the dairy’s overhead. The project also virtually eliminated the dairy’s need for propane, which saves approximately $15,000 annually.
The Ballards anticipate that the actual payback will be sooner than originally forecasted. As their operation expands, they require less overall energy than they would have with their previous system.
Read about the judging panel on the next page.