Olin Brass energy conservation effort gains momentum with Energy Saving Ideas competition

July was “Energy Saving Ideas” month at the Olin Brass plant in East Alton, as the company’s Energy Team conducted a competition to solicit energy conservation ideas from every corner of the facility.

The effort was inspired by the highly successful “Energy Treasure Hunt” that the team conducted back in February as part of its ongoing pursuit of Energy Star certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Olin Brass was the first and is still the only company in the copper and brass alloys industry to take on the “Energy Star Challenge” to cut energy usage by 10% within 5 years.

For the July event, the team challenged Olin Brass employees to submit energy conservation ideas for a chance to win one of four $100 gift cards. Any and every idea was welcome, said event organizer Don Ballard – the goal was to get as many people involved as possible.

“You’d be amazed at how big a difference a little idea can make,” Ballard said. “For example, one of our team members, Bryan Bone, suggested that we could turn down the motor speed on one of our blowers without impacting the job quality. And just by making that one little change we were able save almost $30,000 a year on electricity.”

As it turned out, the effort generated plenty of ideas, big and small – 42 in all. Some noteworthy examples included automatic shut-off valves for select water lines, solar lighting for the parking lots, variable frequency drives on various blowers and motors, and recuperative burners on gas fired burners.

The four winners who were chosen in a random drawing at the Energy Team meeting of August 6th included Andrew Merkle of the plant protection department, Jerry Arnett and Mark Greenwell of the maintenance department, and plant manager Matt Brueckerner. Each received a $100 Visa gift card as their prize. But as far as Don Ballard is concerned, the biggest winner of all is Olin Brass itself.

“The bottom line is, we now have a lot of workable energy-saving ideas that our team had never considered,” Ballard said. “But maybe more important is how many employees took the time and effort to get involved, and the enthusiasm they generated.

“Because now everybody’s talking about saving energy, and trying to come up with ideas of their own. That’s the result we were looking for. That’s what it’s all about.”

A subsidiary of Global Brass and Copper Holdings, Inc., Olin Brass is a world leader in its own right, one of the oldest, most innovative and diverse producers of copper alloys and products in the world. With six domestic operating units and an international group serving Asia and the Pacific Rim, the organization is poised to maintain and expand its presence in copper markets worldwide.  For more information, please visit