Powerhouse Racine: SC Johnson

The twin 415-foot-tall wind turbines at SC Johnson's Waxdale manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant produce about 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The company has announced it is adding a geothermal-energy system at its headquarters campus, 1525 Howe St.

RACINE — SC Johnson Monday announced its intention to use geothermal energy to power its Racine headquarters to reduce the company’s environmental footprint and position the company as “a leader in the private sector in the transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources,” the company stated.

SCJ plans to install a GeoExchange system at its Frank Lloyd Wright-designed campus, 1525 Howe St., to provide sustainable heating and cooling throughout the facilities, using the constant temperature of the Earth. The project, which is pending city and state approvals, is expected to reduce energy usage by an estimated 42 percent. There is a 40 percent reduction made up of decreasing consumption from the implementation of a GeoExchange system, including transforming the current boiler facility to a new energy-efficient thermal plant, and an additional 2 percent reduction by utilizing photovoltaic solar for renewable energy.

Combined with other sustainable projects, the facility will save another 15 to 20 percent in energy usage, resulting in a total facility-wide reduction of 57 to 62 percent of the current energy load.

“Leading the industry in an environmentally responsible manner starts at home,” stated SCJ Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson. “For us, that meant taking a look at our operations and finding where we can lessen our impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, addressing air quality and increasing the amount of energy offset from renewable resources.

Transitioning to geothermal energy at our headquarters goes a long way toward accomplishing those goals.”

For two decades the consumer products manufacturer has been implementing projects that use renewable energy in the production of its products, utilizing a diverse, renewables-heavy energy mix which includes wind, solar and biofuel:

  • At the company’s manufacturing plant in Surabaya, Indonesia, waste husks from rice grains are used as a fuel source for heating water for production. The initiative cut use of fossil fuels, resulting in a reduction of 7,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
  • Manufacturing facilities in China, India, Indonesia and Mexico have solar projects for hot water heating.
  • Three of the company’s manufacturing sites — Bay City, Mich.; Mijdrecht, Netherlands; and Gorzow, Poland — run on 100 percent wind energy, while Waxdale in Mount Pleasant and Toluca, Mexico, get a portion of their power from wind.
  • Waxdale, SCJ’s largest manufacturing plant, also generates 85 percent of its energy from cleaner-burning natural gas; methane gas from Kestrel Hawk Landfill generates 28 percent of the plant’s energy. The other 57 percent comes from a second cogeneration system that uses cleaner-burning natural gas.

Altogether, SCJ has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in its worldwide manufacturing sites by 62 percent from the company’s 2000 baseline.

Sustainable energy

SCJ started using renewable energy more than 15 years ago. “Today, a third of our global energy use comes from renewable sources,” Johnson stated.

At the company headquarters, a GeoExchange well field will be installed under a northwest parking lot, and an existing boiler plant will be converted to a next-generation thermal plant. SCJ hopes to complete the field installation by this fall, with the entire campus converted to the new thermal plant by the fall of 2020.

Also, roughly 13,000 square feet of photovoltaic panels, about 620 panels, will be installed on the building roofs of the company’s west campus.

Company-owned wind turbines are in operation at Mijdrecht and Waxdale.

The Waxdale wind turbines generate 8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power 770 homes. They save about 6,000 metric tons of carbon emissions compared to what would have been created using fossil fuels.

“Leading the industry in an environmentally responsible manner starts at home.” Fisk Johnson, SC Johnson chairman and CEO

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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