If drivers on U.S. Highway 30 notice a green glow coming from Cargill’s Schuyler, Neb., processing facility, they won't have to worry about UFOs. The “glow” would be due to the environmental and dollar savings generated from $4.2 million in upgrades to the plant's boiler and lighting.

A facility-wide investment in the most efficient fluorescent lighting available provides better quality lighting, reduces utility costs and lowers annual electricity use by more than 2 million kWh, enough electricity power 174 houses for an entire year.

The newly installed boiler has improved the plant’s steam efficiency by nearly 11 percent, reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions compared to the aging boiler it replaced, Cargill says.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our operation and reduce our carbon footprint and overall environmental impact,” says Steve Thompson, vice president and general manager of the Cargill beef processing facility at Schuyler.

In addition to the facility’s new boiler system and lighting, the Schuyler plant adopted a plant-wide behavior-based energy management system two years ago, which resulted in a four percent improvement in electrical efficiency, five percent increase in fuel efficiency and seven percent reduction in water use.

"The way people think about the plant’s resource utilization has been redefined forever," Thompson says. "Cargill employees come up with great resource-improvement ideas that would have never surfaced prior to establishing this process.”

The Schuyler facility turned to renewable energy recovery and utilization a decade ago when it upgraded its wastewater treatment system with anaerobic digesters that allow the plant to recover all the biogas produced to treat waste water. Capturing the methane in the biogas significantly reduces GHG emissions, but it is also a valuable fuel source, providing 30 percent of the plant’s total fuel needs, Cargill says.