Department of Energy takes on Electronics with Paul Scheihing

November 3, 2022

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From the Green Is Good Archives

Originally aired on November 27, 2015

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John: Hi, this is John Shegerian. I never could have imagined when we started. The “Green is Good Radio Show” back in 2006. That it would grow into a big podcast called the”Green is Good” podcast. And now we’ve evolved that podcast to the Impact Podcast, which is more inclusive and more diverse than ever before. But we did look back recently at some of our timeless “Green is Good” interviews and decided to share some of them with you now. So enjoy one of our great “Green is Good” episodes from our archives. And next week, I’ll be back with a fresh and new episode of the Impact Podcast. Thanks again for listening. I’m grateful to all of you. This is John Shegerian.

John: Welcome to another edition of “Green is Good.” This is the emerging green edition of “Green is Good” and beautiful downtown Portland, and we’re so honored to have you with us today, Paul Scheihing. He’s the Technology Manager of the US Department of Energy, the advanced manufacturing office. Welcome to “Green is Good,” Paul.

Paul Scheihing: Thank you for having me.

John: Oh, happy to have you! And before we get to talking about all the great work you’re doing for DOE, I like you just to share Paul Syers’ journey with our listeners and our viewers on how you even got interested in energy and sustainability and all the great things that we’re talking about here at emerging green.

Paul: Yeah. So I was trained and educated as a Mechanical Engineer, and I worked for 10 years in the private sector, actually designing gas turbine engines. And I have always had an interest in energy, probably, starting in my college days. And then, I applied to work at the Department of Energy, and it’s been an interesting journey. Done a lot of different things. And the last few years, I’ve kind of focused my efforts on Energy Management, which is turned out to be a phenomenal area to be in.

John: It’s one of the hottest areas. This sounds good, right?

Paul: Yeah. So, it’s been very exciting, and of course I really my passion is to work with the US manufacturing sector. Because energy has such an important role in improving the productivity of manufacturing plants. And as you know, things today are very competitive worldwide. And energy can play a good part in helping companies to be competitive and improve the environment at the same time.

John: Yeah. So interesting. And so, your area at the US Department of Energy when it says, Technology Manager, Advanced Manufacturing Office. What is that? Is that just for large manufacturers in the United States? Is that for OEMs in the electronic sector? How many sectors is that cover?

Paul: Includes all the sectors. So, if you look at the US manufacturing sector, you’re talking about 200,000 facilities in the United States. And you’re talking about us. I think itself is 15% of our economy is making Goods. It also comprises 1/3 of the nation’s energy consumption is manufacturing some type of product. Of course, there’s a variety of sectors that comprise that energy. Some of the key ones are, of course, chemicals, paper refining, food processing, steel, and aluminum. And then, others are more downstream in the supply chain, such as plastics, automotive, and electronics. And but we will be if you look at the electronics sectors after you’re really dealing with the whole supply chain of extracting the materials from the mine to making the individual components, whether it be a printed wiring board or the integrated circuit or the memory board or the plastics that go into your electronic products.

John: Right! Right, right. So, you’re here at the emerging Green conference, and of course, we’re talking about the circular economy. I’m talking about sustainability. You also have a program at DOE called SEP.

Paul: Mm-uhm.

John: So, can you share a little bit about what you’re talking about here? And what, and how does that interrelate to what you’re doing and what your favorite programs are at DOE?

Paul: Okay. So, if you look at the Superior Energy Performance program or SEP.

John: Okay.

Paul: It is about the continual improvement of energy performance.

John: Okay.

Paul: And we do that under SEP using the ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard. So, ISO 50001 is similar to other ISO Management Systems such as ISO 14000 or ISO 9000, but this time we’re focusing on energy alone. And that’s Structured Management System helps companies to continually improve. And this standard is very young, just about 4 years old. And so, the US DOE is working with the manufacturing sector to increase the uptake of ISO 50001. And we do that through SEP because SEP adds extra energy performance verification on top of ISO 50001. And that verifies the value that the companies are getting. In addition to that, you can extend that even further to verify the greenhouse gases that the company is reducing as a result of its energy management efforts.

John: When did this SEP roll out?

Paul: In 2013, we rolled it out. And to date, we have 27 facilities that have been certified.

John: Wow. And how many more are in the process of getting certified?

Paul: About 50 others. The main uptake we’re getting right now is working with 5 companies to scale it across their Enterprises.

John: Their Enterprise.

Paul: Nissan, 3M, General Dynamics, Schneider Electric, and Commons[?] are working with us to see how they can extend SEP beyond just one facility across the Enterprise. And there, then you get the Economies of Scale of doing that, of course.

John: Wow. And for our listeners and viewers out there that want to learn more about the SEP program that Paul is very involved with, you go to So, you’re going to be speaking at this and this conference. Who else are you going to be on your panel, and how are you interrelating it with sort of closing the circular economy?

Paul: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, if you look at a typical electronic product, it will vary, but in some electronic products, there could be 5X more energy consumed by the manufacturer of that product as opposed to the use of that product.

John: Interesting.

Paul: So, a lot of the focus up to now, in a good way, has been on reducing the energy consumption of the use. But we have so far to go with improving the manufacturer of those components that comprise the electronic product. So, the SEP program could do, is to help original equipment manufacturers to work with their suppliers to continually improve their energy performance.

John: Right, right.

Paul: And then other people on the panel would be HP and Qantas International, which has developed a Life Cycle Analysis Tool with a group of manufacturing companies, including HP. And then we also brought in 3M, who has, there, a supplier to the electronics industry. Wanted to have one example in particular. They’re one of the leaders in adopting the SEP program. They’re kind of a world leader in energy management, so they’re going to speak on that.

John: Gotcha, gotcha. Talk a little bit about what you thought was going to happen when you started rolling out SEP. What actually happens? Some of the challenges, but some of the unintended benefits also.

Paul: Yeah. So, some of the challenges, of course, is a new thing, but that’s always the case. We also have found that there’s a lot of training needed, a lot of education. We’re trying to create a skill. Taking 2 types of people, one that knows management systems and one that knows energy engineering, combined that into one person who built more of those people who know both of us things. We also had some kind of surprises. The companies initially were kind of reluctant about the third-party certification. Maybe the was a little bit of a risk to them. Maybe they were kind of putting themselves out by being more transparent, and as it’s turned out, the companies really like it. Because the energy teams put all this work into putting the SEP program in place. Now they have a 3rd party come in and say, “yeah, you did say 10%.” And that allows them to go to the Plant Manager or their decision-makers to demonstrate that they really got a return on investment for all the effort they put in.

John: Gotcha, gotcha! Besides the brands that you just mentioned. The great brands you just mentioned, such as 3M and others that are putting this across their Enterprise, what’s the future of SEP? What’s the future, even on a macro level, for Energy Management because it seems like everyone’s talking about it?

Paul: Well, if you look, if you take a global view-

John: Yeah.

Paul: Okay.

John: Yeah.

Paul: I bet you’d be surprised to know that 40% of the world’s energy is industrial making things.

John: Okay.

Paul: Okay, it tends to be an area. Maybe that doesn’t get as much attention because things are like the energy for our cars and our buildings-

John: Sure.

Paul: -are a little more transparent to us.

John: Sure.

Paul: But 40% of the world’s energy is making things. So, we’re finding that the average SEP plan is, say 10%t in the 1st 18 months. So, the potential of a typical manufacturing plant could be 15%-30%, right? Over a 5, 10-year period. And any features translate that across that 40 % of the world’s energy footprint, our carbon footprint. You know, it’ll take some time, but you can see the potential there.

John: Years ago, we had a great guest from the energy sector, not from the D OE but from the private sector, on the show, and I forgot the number, but I wanted you to tell me what the real numbers and he said to me the future of energy is in no longer creating solar so to speak. He said it’s managing the grid[?[(11:56)] better. I said, “I don’t understand what you mean.” This is a 3 or 4 years ago discussion on the show.

Paul: Mm-uhm.

John: And he said, “listen, John, if you take all the energy that’s produced in the world,” he goes, “at least,” and he gave me a number. I want to say 50% is being wasted on all of that.

Paul: Absolutely, it is.

John: Is that number true?

Paul: It’s somewhere in that way. Yeah.

John: [crosstalk[(12:16)]And I appreciate. That’s amazing.

Paul: Yeah, and remember, the cleanest energy we have is the BTU that we don’t consume, right?

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John: Right!

Paul: We don’t have to treat that. We don’t have to worry about so-

John: You’re filling that void that he told me about 3 or 4 years ago in one big-.

Paul: In 1 element, yeah.

John: That’s huge!

Paul: There are other courses with a lot of clean technologies[crosstalk] that can get towards that 50% potential.

John: Of course. Right.

Paul: Approximately.

John: Right.

Paul: Yeah.

John: That’s the opportunity, then.

Paul: Yeah. So, you really want to be managing your facility excellently, right?

John: Yeah.

Paul: If you’re going to be adopting all these clean technologies-

John: Sure.

Paul: -they both think they go hand in hand.

John: They go hand in hand.

Paul: Mm-uhm.

John: Talk a little bit about other energy. You know, for our listeners out there,

everyone wants to understand. We don’t want to anymore. We found in less than 7 years since we’ve been doing this show, is that listeners are excited to learn, but they also want like a step-off pointer window to a door to walk through.

Paul: Yes, yeah.

John: How can our listeners and our viewers, Paul become more energy-efficient themselves? Give some solutions or suggestions that you have because you’re right in the middle of all of them.

Paul: Yeah. Well, I would say if we’re talking about a manufacturing facility.

John: Yeah!

Paul: Maybe not every facility is ready to jump in, do SEP right away.

John: Right.

Paul: Or IOS 50001, right?

John: Right.

Paul: I would suggest that they look at putting some type of structured Energy Management program in place. And my suggestion to them is to go to our website and Google eGuide DOE.

John: eGuide?

Paul: Yeah. eGuide DOE.

John: Okay.

Paul: This is a tool basically that helps any kind of facility to manage their energy and gives them those first 10 or 20 steps to do. A step-by-step process. Things like you put your energy team together. Go beyond a person. Come up with a plan. Get the plan manager and whoever is controlling your resources to support your team. Get a goal. Assess your energy.

John: Sure. With regards to what you just said on a macro basis. For our listeners and viewers and take it down, more micro to what why we’re here today for electronic manufacturers and the electronic supply chain. How can we get better at this? I mean, where do you see some of the lowest-hanging fruit?

Paul: Low-hanging fruit is in adopting a more systematic Energy Management program.

John: Okay.

Paul: And what we have found, the average plan again, let’s say, 10% and 3 quarters of that savings are from operational behavioral improvement not having to spend any money. Simply by the team’s real understanding of how their energy is used. Pinpointing those big areas in your facility that use the most energy and see how you can optimize that.

John: Wow, wow! Final thoughts. We’re down to the last couple of minutes. Paul, share your final thoughts with our listeners and viewers on energy, sustainability, and anything else about SEP or that you want to share.

Paul: Yeah. In terms of the electronic industry, I guess, please take a look at SEP.

John: Okay.

Paul: What we’re trying to do is to incorporate a SEP as part of sustainability standards that the electronic industry can use. And that the large OEMs that make the products can work with their suppliers. And there are hundreds, not thousands, of suppliers who work with 1 or 2 of them initially to demonstrate that Energy Management is a cost-effective pathway to reducing your energy and carbon footprint.

John: Got it. Well, thank you for being with us today, Paul.

Paul: Thank you. Yeah.

John: For our listeners out there, again, to learn more about what Paul and his great colleagues at the DOE are doing, please go to and also download when you’re on that site, eGuide DOE.

Paul: Yeah, or Google it or even search it.

John: Or Google it. Yeah. eGuide DOE, which will give you the beginning steps to get your plan in a more energy-efficient manner.

Paul: Yes.

John: Wow. Paul Syers, he’s the Technology Manager of the US Department of Energy, the Advanced Manufacturing Office. Thank you for making the world a better place. You are truly living proof that “Green is Good.” Thank you so much.

Paul: Thank you, sir.

John: Thank you.

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