Good Neighbor Agreements make companies lower harmful emissions

Reducing machine temperatures could reduce emissions up to 70 percent.

by Joy Petersen

When Southeast Como Improvement Association environmental committee member Jake Jacobi began improving his neighborhood’s environment 15 years ago, he was worried area companies wouldn’t be willing to cooperate.

Since then, SECIA and Jacobi have made Good Neighbor Agreements with two manufacturing companies, Ritrama Inc. and Rock-Tenn Company, and are working on their third with Greatbatch-Globe Tool.

Good Neighbor Agreements help build stronger relationships with neighborhood companies and the association, since companies adhere to specific, outlined requirements to improve air quality and energy use, said Justin Eibenholzl, SECIA’s environmental coordinator.

Jacobi said 10 years ago, when the Association began looking into the rate of trichloroethylene – a harmful air pollutant – emissions by Greatbatch-Globe Tool, a neighborhood company wouldn’t allow the University’s Minnesota Technical Assistance Program to assess the company’s emissions.

When the company learned its permit was up for renewal in December, it allowed Jacobi, other members of the association and an intern from MnTAP to tour and assess the emissions, he said.

MnTAP’s findings were that 26,600 pounds of trichloroethylene emissions were released from the company’s building each year.

Assessments found that by using five different measures, emissions could be reduced by 70 percent.

“Just one of the steps, reducing the temperature on the machines, could lower the emissions by 10,000 pounds,” Jacobi said. “We are elated at these results.”

Eibenholzl is working on the specific language of the Good Neighbor Agreement with the company.

“What would constitute the company as a good neighbor,” he said, “would be reducing emissions, sharing information with the neighbors about what’s happening at the plant with respect to the environment and supporting the community financially and with volunteers.”

The company’s environmental health and safety manager, Justin Gillette, said the MnTAP assessment provided insight into the largest opportunities for lowering emissions.

Gillette said by reprogramming the machinery, it could optimize the operations to be more efficient.

“MnTAP worked with some of the other engineers to find the best settings for the machinery to reduce emissions and improve the quality of operation,” he said.

Implementing new practices have already allowed the company to reduce trichloroethylene emissions.

“Some of the controls that have already been implemented, I’m sure, are reducing our emissions,” Gillette said. “Then, any further changes are going to further reduce out emissions and the efficiency of our processes.”