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Ben & Jerry’s Plant Achieves Major Savings

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Photo credit: Efficiency Vermont

Source: Efficiency Vermont (EVT)

Ice Cream is Cooler than Ever

In 2015, Ben & Jerry’s of Saint Albans recently completed some major upgrades to their refrigeration and lighting equipment, helping them meet ambitious corporate sustainability goals and reduce their peak demand charges. The plant completed most of the work in just less than two weeks, and is now saving $89,000 annually, while maintaining the high quality standards they’re known for.

Working with Efficiency Vermont and a team of skilled contractors, Ben & Jerry’s was able to cut energy demand in two major areas of their operations, while maintaining or even improving plant performance:

Adding refrigeration controls

By adding variable frequency drives to their high stage ammonia compressors and evaporator fans, the plant is now able to automatically moderate the usage of each unit to only what’s needed at the moment, rather than running them at top speed all the time. These upgrades match equipment horsepower to actual production needs.

Lighting upgrade to LEDs

The plant upgraded to LEDs in their distribution freezer, production room, mix-making area, and spiral freezer. The spiral freezer upgrade was especially significant. Access to the -40oF area is rare but important, and the old lights were so slow to warm up they had to be left on all the time, just in case. The new LEDs are instant-on, and so now can remain off 90% of the time.

Around the clock production raises the stakes

Like many manufacturers, the Ben & Jerry’s Saint Albans plant operates 24/7 throughout most of the year. On one hand, these long hours heighten the impact of an upgrade: The energy savings are magnified, which accelerates the return on investment. In this case the project will pay for itself in just under two years.

At the same time, a continuous production schedule leaves little time to complete an upgrade. Efficiency Vermont worked closely with the team of contractors and Ben & Jerry’s engineering and maintenance teams who were able to complete the upgrades within a two-week shutdown over the holidays. There was no time lost for production, and no interruption to quality.

The ripple effects of reducing peak demand

Not only has Ben & Jerry’s St. Albans reduced their own energy bills and exposure to peak demand charges, they’ve saved Vermont ratepayers from great expense. By lowering overall electric load, particularly in the high-demand summer months, the plant has helped the state avoid costly infrastructure development, which was estimated at roughly $1.5 million.

Ben & Jerry’s is a subsidiary of Unilever Corporation, and there are already plans in the works to share these project results with other Unilever facilities across the country. Says Billie Davis, Environmental Specialist for the plant, “These upgrades will help us meet our corporate sustainability goals, and help us cut peak demand charges as well.” 



1,012,000 kWh/year

For more information, please contact Efficiency Vermont at (888-921-5990)