White is the new green in roofing

Vital Health Foods took a major step towards reducing carbon emissions at its Kuils River factory when it painted the roof with a special white reflective coating.

It used Thermoshield, developed by Nasa, to reflect and repel heat and sunlight, keeping the temperature inside the building up to 45% cooler.

“We use far less air conditioning to cool the building, which has meant a decreased burden on the environment and a smaller electricity bill. In less than 12 months we reduced electrical consumption by 36?000kWh, which saved the company in excess of R23?000,” said engineering manager Peter Tremlett.

Other benefits of Thermoshield include slower ageing of the roof, lower maintenance costs and a more stable temperature-controlled environment.

Vital started implementing small energy-efficiency measures in 1981. It formulated a comprehensive environmental policy in 2008, including the goal to be carbon neutral by 2015.

The company has replaced all fluorescent tubes at the factory with LED lighting and installed a solar geyser. It plans to convert all its hot-water cylinders to run on solar power in the near future.

An electroflow system that reduces the electricity load required to run machinery has resulted in a further 14% saving on energy, which the company also recycles by recovering waste heat from air compressors and using it to heat water systems that run through the plant.

Waste water is used for steam cleaning, and cooling water is recycled for use in vacuum pumps, reducing water consumption. A service provider is responsible for collecting, separating and recycling all the waste from the plant and offices.

Vital is working towards creating its own electricity through a biomass generator, which uses renewable energy sources and guarantees significantly lower carbon emissions.

“Becoming carbon neutral is a very real possibility and we should be in a position to sell carbon credits by 2015,” said chief executive George Grieve.

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