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A.O. Smith earns green designation in Johnson City, Tenn.

A. O. Smith is promoting its water heater plant in Johnson City, Tenn., as the first company facility -- and one of the few facilities in Tennessee -- to earn Energy Star certification.

The 470,000-sq.-ft. Johnson City facility did not set out originally to obtain the Energy Star certification, according to Andy Demski, director of operations. Instead, it was looking at long-term initiatives to reduce the building’s energy and water consumption.

“We saw this as a strategic blueprint to help steer projects toward a specific objective of improved efficiency and reduce the cost of energy and water in the building,” he observed. “We already had an aggressive recycling program in place; this fits in under that umbrella.”

To qualify, a building’s energy efficiency must rank in the top 25% nationwide compared with similar facilities. The rankings are based on the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Energy Performance Rating System. Johnson City received a rating of 82 on the 100-point Energy Star performance scale; a building that scores 75 or higher is eligible for the certification.

The primary areas of focus in the plant were lighting, heating, ventilation and water usage.