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Meyer Sound promotes energy efficiency with ‘recycled’ campus

Meyer Sound has announced a renewed commitment to further reduce energy consumption, cut manufacturing waste to zero, and provide more incentives for employees to reduce their personal carbon footprints. The new efforts build on more than a decade of work led by Meyer Sound’s ‘Green Team’, a group of employees representing every department that continually works on new initiatives to further the company’s sustainability goals.

“At Meyer Sound we’ve been recognised as a Bay Area Green Business for more than four years, and we’re proud to be one of the most environmentally friendly manufacturers in the audio industry,” said executive vice president Helen Meyer. “But we’re not sitting still. This year we’re redoubling efforts to achieve zero waste and further shrink our carbon footprint.”

Gary Robinson, who for the past decade has served as director of facilities and campus expansion, is spearheading the company’s sustainability efforts. Robinson is charged with overseeing Meyer Sound’s physical plant, which comprises a cluster of nine structures in the bayside industrial flatlands of Berkeley, California.

“In a sense our entire campus is recycled,” explained Robinson. “We have a total of around 220,000sqft of floor space in structures originally built from the 1920s through the early 1950s. About 65% of that space is in the historic former H.J. Heinz cannery, built in 1928. Making older buildings energy efficient is challenging, but we’ve made remarkable progress and we’re dedicated to doing more.”

The company’s ongoing efforts received a boost in 2016 when Meyer Sound joined with REV Sustainability, a consulting firm focused on green business practices, to develop a tailor-made Sustainability Action Plan.

“We put together a five year plan, which we’re about halfway through,” stated Robinson. “We set three visionary goals, including cutting energy consumption by 15% and reducing manufacturing waste to zero. We’re well on our way to achieving both of those goals.”

To cut electricity consumption, facilities have undergone three lighting retrofits, with the last round of efficient T-8 fluorescent fixtures now being replaced by LEDs. All lights are programmed to go off when areas are not in use, and occupancy sensors are installed in occasional use areas like restrooms.

All HVAC systems have been upgraded for maximum efficiency, including special equaliser units to manage outside air intake. An online monitoring system delivers real-time status information to assure an optimum work environment with minimal energy consumption.

Under the new programme, the company has cut manufacturing waste by nearly 75%. “No old or rejected electronic components go to landfill,” said Robinson. “We take an amplifier down to the PC board, stripping and recycling the copper, aluminium and plastic, even the steel screws. And for lunchroom waste, we now have composting bins.”

Wood waste from loudspeaker cabinets is either converted to pellets for biomass electricity generation or recycled into veneers or gardening mulch. Water usage is monitored closely, with consumption relative to manufacturing output dropping sharply. Careful monitoring and fixture retrofits, down to the level of low-flow toilets, have earned the Berkeley campus the East Bay Municipal Utilities Water Smart Business Award.

To maintain momentum toward achieving all goals, Meyer Sound joined a REV Sustainability Circle, which brought together diverse business enterprises in the area to develop innovative solutions to common problems. “Our group included Pixar Animation Studios and Bayer Pharmaceuticals, which are very different businesses from us,” commented Robinson. “But that actually helps us learn because we benefit from their different perspectives.”