Senura Dharmadasa is the Manager – Sustainability and Compliance at Star Garments, which has been carbon-neutral for four years. Star Garments is also the largest Sri Lankan company to go carbon neutral and the only complete group of apparel factories to achieve this status.
Senura has always been deeply fascinated by the wonders of the natural world, recognising them as a precious privilege we have been given as humans. Starting out in the environmental field, Senura came to understand our actions have a significant impact on the environment. This realization motivated him to focus on sustainability and the opportunity it provides to take control and play a critical role in preserving the environment for future generations.
At present, Star Garments maintains its carbon-neutral status by offsetting carbon credits but is seeking methods for insetting in the future. With ongoing improvement of sustainability practices being part of their ethos, Star Garments has installed a 3.5 MW solar system, replaced furnace oil boilers with biomass boilers, and incorporates several significant energy-saving measures.
The Company also follows Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in its factories. Eight of eleven factories have received LEED certification. Star Garments is committed to obtaining certification for all its factories and promoting sustainable practices across its operations. The Company is working towards a 35 per cent reduction in absolute emissions and a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency by 2027.
The Star Garments’ Innovation Center is the first “Passive House” in Southeast Asia and one of only eight factories of its kind in the world. It is also Sri Lanka’s first LEED Version 4 Platinum Building. The construction incorporates a set of design principles that attain a rigorous level of energy efficiency. In building the Innovation Center, the typical passive house concepts had to be reverse engineered to factor in cooling features that would stand up to the local climate. The completed facility utilizes 70 per cent less energy than a regular building of the same size.
“My role is to look into how energy, water and waste are managed and improve the efficiency of these processes. I also oversee compliance with both customer and regulatory requirements. Our primary markets being Europe, the UK and the US, mean we have to place a greater emphasis on renewable energy sources to meet customer requirements. This is challenging with Sri Lanka’s dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation and systems for rooftop solar power generation that do not lend themselves to the adoption of renewable energy. With the energy crisis in the country, energy costs in our production process have climbed from 1.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent. This issue is affecting Sri Lanka’s entire apparel industry. Our exports have become less competitive than our regional peers.”
Senura is keen to see a significant shift in national energy policies and practices. “The apparel sector urgently requires government support. Initially, we depended on hydropower alone but it is clear, this is not a viable long-term strategy. What we took for granted in the past must change, with the cost of energy and impacts on climate change mounting, it is time to switch our focus towards reducing emissions and energy efficiency.”
As a forward-thinking sustainability professional, Senura is actively working to improve employee awareness and cultivate an environmentally conscious organisational culture. He is also dedicated to guiding Star Garments towards achieving their long-term energy efficiency and sustainability goals.
Damith Gamage is the Chief Engineer at Associated Motorways’ tyre manufacturing facility in Kalutara. Associated Motorways, popularly known as AMW, is one of the pioneers in Sri Lanka’s Automotive industry.
Damith began his educational endeavours in the field of mechanical engineering but wanting to explore the potential of sustainable energy solutions, he went on to pursue a degree in Steam Engineering and Energy Conservation, followed by a training course on Energy Management at the National Cleaner Production Centre Sri Lanka (NCPC). This led Damith to his current role at AMW.
Established in 1949, AMW rose to the top of the country’s tyre retreading industry. The manufacturing arm of the business caters to both local and export markets, producing rubber compounds for the manufacture of tyres and other rubber products.
The manufacturing process involves three main phases: mixing, sheeting and cooling. During the mixing phase, the ingredients are blended together. Next, the mixture is sheeted to a precise thickness using a two-roll rolling mill. Finally, in the ‘Batch-off’ phase, the sheets are cooled rapidly and an anti-sticking material is introduced.
As Chief Engineer of the Kalutara facility, Damith is responsible for overseeing all maintenance and engineering work as well as managing projects.
“Maintenance plays a crucial role in ensuring energy efficiency in machinery. I have implemented a preventive maintenance programme that ensures all machinery is tuned for optimal energy efficiency. From an engineering perspective, I believe new technology is the way forward. Energy-saving ratings must be reviewed when selecting appliances and equipment. With the implementation of new projects, we use a review process that assesses potential savings, return on investment, sustainability and energy efficiency.
AMW produces 18,000 MT of custom rubber compound each year. The process uses high voltage machinery and tools leading to a monthly electricity cost of over 15 million. When assessing our energy efficiency, we identified the base load to be 22 – 25 per cent of total load. After identifying significant energy use (SEU), we have begun to reduce waste by increasing efficiency.
Blowers that were running continuously, now operate on a lower speed to deliver only the required pressure differential with minimal waste. Initially, logs of wood were utilized for thermal heating of the biomass boiler but after shifting to a mix of sawdust and wood as our main fuel, combustion efficiency improved from 35 per cent to 42 per cent; overall energy efficiency jumped by 20 per cent. We also identified insufficient insulation in our steam production system, which we addressed by bringing in new condensation recovery processes; this led to a five to seven per cent reduction in the fuel consumption of our boilers.
20 per cent of our total manufacturing cost is energy. In the past, energy consumption was not a hot topic but now it is more important than ever. The greatest challenge lies in changing mindsets. What we need is an integrated approach that works from the ground up; to build an energy conscious culture. Factory floor staff have first-hand knowledge of where loss of energy and gaps exist; this is invaluable information and we need to use it to empower our staff and make them part of the change. It is crucial to utilize the knowledge and expertise at every level. This requires a long-term focus and commitment from everyone involved.
I use the monthly management meetings as my opportunity to draw attention to the progress of energy management initiatives: highlighting the gains and the savings that have resulted from our efforts. We are now working to obtain ISO 150001 accreditation; to ensure the Company keeps moving forward.
Asanka Manoj is the Senior Manager – Production and Facility Maintenance at Flintec Transducers Pvt Ltd, a renowned global manufacturer of precision weight measurement technology in the Swedish Indutrade Group.
Having studied electrical engineering at the Institute of Engineering Technology, he then progressed to become a trainer for the electronic manufacturing industry certified by the Association Connecting Electronics Industries. Today, Asanka plays a pivotal role at Flintec. Flintec specializes in producing load cells, accessories and electronics. The company operates design as well as research and development facilities in the United States, United Kingdom and Sri Lanka, with manufacturing facilities located in Katunayake and Koggala. “Flintec’s primary sources of energy are electricity and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), while diesel is utilized for standby generators and transportation. Sri Lanka’s recent electricity disruptions and fuel shortages combined with Indutrade’s Sustainability Strategy Towards 2030, gave us the impetus to seek alternate energy-saving options.
As the Senior Manager responsible for assembly and manufacturing operations in Katunayake as well as facility maintenance at all three plants, I felt it was my responsibility to identify new measures to mitigate these challenges and drive our company towards becoming more sustainable. While doing research online, I encountered a webinar by the National Cleaner Production Centre Sri Lanka (NCPC) introducing the UNIDO Energy Management Systems (EnMs) training. Reviewing the programme content, I recognized the potential benefits for an organization like ours. UNIDO’s five-year plan for Sri Lanka is a great opportunity for the country to learn and implement energy management practices not only in industries but also at domestic level.
The training proved timely and invaluable. It was precisely what I had been searching for. I was confident that we would be able to fill a knowledge gap. Upon completing the very first module, we began applying the learning in our factories. I commenced the course in October 2022, and it marked the beginning of a new journey for Flintec.
Our first stop was initiating zero investment projects. Our main facility, which was over 30 years old, needed immediate attention. Numerous pneumatic lines which had been left unattended, were serviced. Processes were introduced to incorporate manual routine checks on the heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems and diffusers. Additionally, inspection of machinery across the manufacturing plants were taken to a granular level. Our maintenance technicians were tasked with carrying out routine servicing, leakage checking and improving compressed air systems. In January 2023, we installed rooftop-solar at all our plants, from which we can draw 65–70 per cent of our daytime energy usage.
Prior to the new systems and processes being introduced, electricity consumption averaged at 486,000kWh of per month at our main plant. However, in the past five months, we have achieved an 8 per cent reduction in electricity usage; a figure we plan to grow to 15 per cent by the end of 2025. Our biggest challenge in implementing these measures has been finding the time to conduct maintenance activities without disrupting our production schedules.”
Asanka has a newfound appreciation for energy management. He is eager to continue expanding his knowledge of the subject while educating others. “Following a series of awareness programmes, in which I cascaded the learnings gleaned from the EnMS training, ‘Energy teams’ were formed at two of our plants to further the company’s energy efficiency efforts.”
In addition to introducing a robust energy management system, Flintec is exploring initiatives to efficiently manage all its resources. “We are also aiming to obtain ISO 50001 certification in early 2024. The certification will help strengthen our position in the European and American markets.”
Jayanath Rupasinghe is the Energy Manager at Dipped Products PLC, a Sri Lanka based, global manufacturer of protective hand-wear. Jayanath’s long career at Dipped Products began when he joined its Maintenance and Engineering Department soon after graduating university. He went on to become Maintenance Manager in 2016.
“The more time I spent with the company, the more convinced I became that my true passion was for energy-saving and efficiency. I saw a lot of potential to make a positive impact in this area and eagerly took up the challenge when management offered me the opportunity to take over as Energy Manager. Since 2017, I have been fully dedicated to the energy aspect of the business. I am always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to further reduce our carbon footprint.”
Dipped Products, founded in 1976, is a pioneer in the manufacture of natural and synthetic latex-based gloves for an expansive range of applications including household, industrial and medical use. The process of crafting these gloves includes a mould or ‘former’ being dipped in a latex bath. Next, the latex is cured, for which a significant amount of energy is utilized, due to the heat required for that process.
“One of my responsibilities is improving energy efficiency, which includes biomass sourcing and usage. When I first joined Dipped Products, the company’s heaters and boilers ran on furnace oil. However, due to increasing costs and environmental concerns, the transition was made to using biomass as a primary heating source. Biomass is obtained from a number of external suppliers.
Our monthly firewood consumption is approximately 6.5 million kilograms, while we consume around 1.4 million units of electricity and 35,000kg of liquified petroleum gas (LPG). In addition, we use approximately 20,000 liters of diesel to operate backup generators.
We are now improving our supplier screening process by requiring all our biomass suppliers to hold Sustainable Source of Biomass certification. This ensures the wood supplied is fuelwood or reforested timber. With more commercial operations opting for biomass, sourcing wood therefore has proven challenging. In response, we have initiated projects with our latex suppliers to encourage them to grow Gliricidia, as an under-crop on their rubber plantations, to be utilized as biomass. Additionally, when the rubber tree reaches the end of its economic life, it can also be used for fuelwood.”
Dipped Products has an overarching goal to reduce its carbon footprint of production by 5 per cent, per pair of gloves, per year. To achieve this, several approaches have been employed. Tumble dryers, which initially used LPG, are being converted to utilize thermal oil, with heat generated from biomass. Excess heat, generated from biomass burners, is being redirected to heat water for other industrial processes. Measures are being taken to maximize energy efficiency by standardizing the quality of woodchips consumed as biomass. The procurement process is also being upgraded, to ensure equipment and machinery meet maximum levels of energy efficiency.
“Our new factory in Biyagama will feature a 1.5MW solar power system. Although high-efficiency equipment and renewable energy generation requires a greater initial investment, the long-term cost savings resulting from reduced energy consumption ultimately justifies the expense. By improving efficiency, we expect a 20 to 30 per cent saving in energy consumption.
Following the UNIDO Energy Management Systems (EnMs) training, Jayanath has begun a year-long process to implement the ISO 50001 Standard for Dipped Products. “I have been able to go beyond ad-hoc efforts and adopt a systematic approach in identifying and leveraging energy saving opportunities.”
Mohomad Arshad is the Manager of Environment, Health and Safety at South Asia Textiles Limited (SAT), a leading fabric manufacturer in Sri Lanka that operates under Hayleys Fabric PLC, producing 35 tonnes of fabric per day.
With two plants situated in Horana and Pugoda, Hayleys Fabric PLC has a total daily fabric production capacity of 65 tonnes. Importing yarn from across Asia, the Company uses Circular Knitting Technology to produce fabric. The knitting process consumes both electricity and compressed air. The fabric then goes through a two-part dyeing stage that utilizes steam, which accounts for approximately 40 per cent of the total energy usage. Finally, the fabric undergoes a finishing procedure, which relies heavily on thermal energy.
The manufacturing process primarily consumes thermal energy, which accounts for 83 per cent of total energy consumption, followed by electricity at 13 per cent and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) at 4 per cent.
Arshad became a part of SAT’s engineering team in 2013. He currently oversees utility operation and maintenance at the Pugoda Plant, which includes ensuring power distribution and backup power are in order. Arshad is also responsible for the Company’s raw-water and waste-water treatment operations.
“We currently utilize thermic oil to operate a dryer, however, plans are underway to transition entirely to biomass. Two biomass steam boilers have been procured; a decision that was taken based on knowledge gained from the UNIDO Energy Management Systems (EnMs) training.
Today, the plant consumes 10t of steam per hour, we intend to bring this figure to 7t by installing new machinery. At present, our dyeing function requires approximately 4000m3 of water that is drawn from the Kelani River. We intend to reduce this by introducing high-tech, low-liquor-ratio machines that will also reduce our energy consumption by approximately 25 per cent during the heating-cooling cycle. Furthermore, we are working to reduce the energy required for effluent treatment (ET). Our fabric drying machines consume 10kW of energy to dry 1kg of fabric; through technology upgrades we are targeting a reduction to approximately 7kW,” he said.
Along with every other manufacturer in the country, SAT faced challenges due to disruptions in the power supply, fuel shortages and electricity tariff hikes. However, the switch to biomass systems has helped alleviate some problems, which will be bolstered by the installation of a 5MW solar power system. The consumption of furnace oil was trimmed from 16,500L to just 1,500L per day. The company hopes to completely eliminate furnace oil from its operations by 2024.
“We are further incentivized by our foreign customers. Compliance with international controls and requirements related to green practices are essential for remaining competitive in the global market.
Arshad works with a skilled and receptive workforce, led by a management team that prioritizes energy efficiency. “Our factory floor staff receive regular training that helps them stay current and informed about the company’s environmental impact, and the measures being taken to mitigate it. As a result, we have already started reaping the benefits of these energy saving measures.
“Today, only 70 per cent of energy consumed at the SAT plants is being utilized for production, 30 per cent is being wasted; a calculation I was able to carry out thanks to the EnMS training. Our aim is to increase efficiency to 80–85 per cent; a target we hope to achieve by December 2023.”
K. H. Thanushka is the Senior Mill Manager at Watawala Plantations PLC, a diversified agribusiness company and the largest certified producer of palm oil in Sri Lanka. Thanushka was drawn to energy management while studying Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Moratuwa. In 2007, he took up the position of Assistant Mill Engineer at Watawala Plantations’ palm oil mill in Nakiyadeniya, Galle.
Watawala’s palm oil plantation spans over 3,500 hectares and is equipped with an onsite mill where harvested oil palm bunches are processed into crude palm oil. Despite the high energy demands of the industry, Watawala has made significant progress towards achieving energy self-sufficiency, with a major portion of its energy needs being met by renewable sources.
Today, Thanushka is the Senior Mill Manager. “I oversee production, energy-use and overall operations at the mill. I also focus on the people aspect, ensuring that our team is trained and equipped to meet production targets and comply with safety standards. Additionally, I worked with the National Cleaner Production Centre Sri Lanka (NCPC) on implementing ISO 50001 in 2021, to manage and improve our energy performance. The mill has also received the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification.”
The mill uses biomass as a source of energy to generate steam, which in turn is used for production and electricity generation. The steam generation process is utilised for sterilising and processing fresh fruit bunches (FFB), while the exhaust is funnelled through steam turbines for electricity generation. Where diesel boilers were used at the inception, the mill now functions on biomass boilers. The biomass used includes by-products of the FFB, a common practice in the industry. Over 95 per cent of our energy consumption is utilized for steam generation, which is supplied entirely from the 110,000 GJ of biomass waste that is generated during our production process each year.
“Our focus is on increasing the efficiency of each process. The recent energy crisis in Sri Lanka highlighted the significant cost of energy usage, further underscoring the importance of our efforts towards energy efficiency and sustainability. Training programmes were conducted to raise awareness and understanding among employees. To address other challenges, we have increased investment in energy management by conducting energy audits and taking measures to optimize energy efficiency, such as the installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) over the past decade.
Despite certain gaps in power distribution synchronization that have limited the maximum utilisation of steam for power, Watawala is actively working on improving load distribution in the coming months. Generating electricity from waste is another process that we are currently exploring, which includes using biogas from wastewater treatment at the mill.
The Energy Management System (EnMS) training gave Thanushka the opportunity to gain practical experience alongside theoretical knowledge. “In our palm oil production, we initially only considered the specific energy consumption but we can now use a multi-variate regression analysis to explore numerous variables that impact energy consumption at each stage. This learning helped me in developing analyses that could minimise consumption and improve overall efficiency.”
On a global scale, Thanushka sees significant untapped potential in the utilisation of resources across all stages of generation, distribution, and consumption. “We need to explore new and alternate sources of energy beyond the traditional coal, diesel and hydropower; and eliminate inefficiency in managing resources. The value of technology is becoming increasingly evident as it enables us to innovate and cultivate new ways of thinking. A holistic approach to energy management is needed to unlock this potential and create a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.”
Sujeewa Fernando is an Energy Manager at Access Energy Solutions, the first Energy Efficiency Improvement (EEI) company to be registered with the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA).
Ever since he chose an elective course on Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) during his undergraduate studies, Sujeewa has been captivated by the subject. It opened his mind to the boundless potential of this tool and how it could be utilized to address industrial concerns related to the effective management of our finite natural resources.
After completing his degree, Sujeewa started his career in energy engineering at the National Cleaner Production Centre Sri Lanka (NCPC). Here he trained over 200 professionals in RECP and implemented it in 15 industries. He also conducted audits, and provided consultancy on energy management, efficiency improvement, greenhouse gas reduction and carbon neutrality. In 2015, keen to switch focus to large-scale energy management projects, Sujeewa moved to Access Energy Solutions.
“Access Energy Solutions uses a Shared Savings Model to encourage the switch to energy efficiency systems. The model works by implementing an energy efficient solution and using the stream of income from the cost savings to recover the costs of the project, including the cost of investment. This method of operation requires the Company to verify their savings monthly.
We also use performance maintenance systems to gather data and maintain performance at an optimal level. In addition, we install Building Management Systems (BMSs) in our projects to monitor and regulate a building’s electrical and mechanical equipment such as power systems, lighting and ventilation in a sustainable manner. The system records data and verifies savings allowing corrective action to be taken if any deviations are detected.
The main goals of our projects include conducting energy audits and optimizing project design, delivering reports presenting solutions and options, and facilitating the integration of these recommendations into industrial projects. As an Energy Manager, Sujeewa has acquired expertise in project design, execution, and supervision, and developed practical knowledge in cost-saving measures.
Operating in an environment with constantly shifting variables, Sujeewa must come up with creative solutions. “Buildings with large energy requirements are seeking out high-tech solutions. For example, meeting the entire energy requirement of such a building using solar power alone is impossible. When space is limited, it is not feasible to install high-capacity solar systems. As an alternative, our team recommends exploring other options such as magnetic bearing chillers, which can offer greater energy efficiency.
When it comes to high investment projects, I have noticed that customers are hesitant to invest in expensive energy-saving solutions. To address this, we secure a bank guarantee. In doing so, we offer the customer a guarantee of the savings they can expect and they walk away happy.
Energy management and resource efficiency improvement are crucial elements in larger projects, given their considerable energy consumption. These practices not only yield cost savings but also play a vital role in reducing the carbon footprint of the entire country.
Another task I take upon myself is to create awareness among top management. This involves demonstrating the potential financial benefits of energy-efficient options and providing technical insights to help them understand potential savings.”
Sujeewa describes the UNIDO Energy Management Systems (EnMs) training as a golden opportunity that enabled him to uncover the full potential of energy auditing and data analysis.
“It was like playing with a diamond coated in mud, after the training the mud was gone and I could admire the brilliance of the diamond.
My aim is to become an expert in this field and the EnMs training has put me on the right path. I am also passionate about imparting my knowledge and inspiring others. Moving forward, I aspire to utilize the professional experience, industry knowledge and recent learning I’ve acquired to educate students pursuing higher studies in energy management.”
Damitha Sandanayaka is an Energy Management Officer at Colombo Dockyard PLC, Sri Lanka’s leading ship repair, shipbuilding, heavy engineering and offshore engineering facility.
New to the workforce, Damitha brought fresh perspective and a willingness to go the extra mile. While working as an electrical engineer at a fabric mill, he observed numerous opportunities to save energy. “I took it upon myself to implement small-scale energy-saving activities, where possible. Eventually, these initiatives caught the attention of the management, which resulted in them establishing a dedicated Energy Management Department.”
After accomplishing this significant feat, Damitha was eager to keep learning. He enrolled in courses offered by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA) and the Sri Lanka Energy Managers Association (SLEMA).
Damitha began his employment at Colombo Dockyard in 2019. “When I joined, the organization was not following a systematic approach to energy management. I helped set up an Energy Management Division, which includes a ‘Cross-functional energy team’ and an ‘Energy quick-response team’.”
Colombo Dockyard specializes primarily in ship repair, with shipbuilding becoming a growing component of the business. Located within the port of Colombo, a strategic hub for the world’s major shipping lanes, the Company undertakes international projects and offshore ship repairs.
“Our energy consumption is quite substantial, with 90% of it being electricity amounting to 1.3 million kWh monthly. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is used in significant quantities for production as well as in the laundry and kitchens, which cater to Colombo Dockyard’s workforce of 2000 permanent and 2500 subcontracted staff. We have recently transitioned from LPG to biomass for boiling water. Our new boilers use coconut shells, a kitchen byproduct, as fuel. This switch has resulted in a 20% reduction in LPG usage.
I strongly believe that changing human behaviour is the key to improving energy efficiency, which is why training and awareness have become fundamental to our organization. We conduct regular training programmes with the SEA and workshops with external consultants. We also initiated ‘Energy Management Week’, which was held for the fourth year running in 2023. This initiative promotes awareness on the importance of energy management and encourages the team to work together to achieve energy efficiency goals.
It can be especially challenging to adopt energy-saving practices when there is pressure to meet production targets. I have been working on better coordination to facilitate quicker response times to rectify leakages or damage that cause energy loss. It is hard to benchmark our processes locally: welding, heating, and metalworking in ship repair and shipbuilding; instead, we have had to measure ourselves against global firms.
We obtained ISO 50001 certification in 2022, a significant undertaking given the nature of the business. The UNIDO Energy Management Systems (EnMs) training helped give me a comprehensive understanding of the standard’s value and practical application.
As I look to the future, the Company’s focus on ramping up production requires a continuous improvement approach. I am eager to explore opportunities in this highly technical process by initiating R&D processes for energy management. Additionally, ongoing assessments are planned for all energy-consuming equipment to determine whether they meet existing benchmarks. Overall, We are committed to finding innovative solutions for energy management that will help us achieve our sustainability goals and ensure a greener future.”
For Asanka Kodithuwakku, Senior Executive on Sustainability at Convenience Foods Lanka (CFL), the subject of energy use has leapt up the agenda in recent years.
“Energy is a hot topic these days,” she says. “We are facing an energy crisis … The electricity tariff rate has been going up day by day and it is very difficult to meet profitability. We have to move to renewable energy sources and also reduce consumption through modification. We have to have these kinds of initiatives. Without energy, we cannot run our business.”
Asanka says CFL is “always trying to seek solutions for renewables”, but until those are found the company is focusing on energy efficiency as a way to reduce both its carbon footprint and its energy bills.
“I am seeing climate changes happen in Sri Lanka,” she says. “So when it comes to energy consumption we need to be engaging in generating less carbon emissions, but we also need to have proper [energy] management and conservation systems.”
CFL began working on sustainability in 2008 and has already implemented many energy-saving initiatives.
“One of the main things we have done is to make our employees and our stakeholders much more aware of energy conservation,” says Asanka “Our engineering team has also done many things to save energy and water over the years. We have insulated our steam lines; we monitor our boilers, we manage our lighting and air conditioning systems and how much furnace oil we use on a daily basis, and we’ve done things like modify our radiators [to reduce energy waste].”
CFL is committed to becoming ISO 50001 registered by 2024-25, which is the gold standard of energy management. Asanka says that participating in the one-year UNIDO Energy Management System (EnMS) training is helping to bring this goal firmly in sight: “[To become ISO 50001 certified] we have to do a lot of calculations and analysis. There are so many new techniques, technologies and improvements methods – with this programme we can learn a lot about these things.
“For instance, we’ve been introduced to an EnMS tool … it is very easy to use and will really help us to bring in an EnMS system. The course is also teaching us about regression analysis … they have taught us that we have to look at many components with regards to energy, then we can get a clearer picture.
“Sometimes we feel very busy with this EnMS training; we have a lot of assignments and exams. But taking part is really helping to increase our knowledge about how to implement the EnMS in our organisation – and we can help others do these kind of activities – so it is a very good opportunity.”
Nisal Liyanage is the Manager – Group Compliance (QHSEEn) at Hayleys Fentons Group, which is recognised as one of the foremost engineering companies in Sri Lanka.
Nisal got his start as a Fire Systems Design Engineer but switched career paths when a position for Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Engineer opened up at Fentons. In this field, Nisal believed he could make a real difference and change the world for the better.
Fentons, now a subsidiary of Hayleys PLC, is a homegrown brand that has been in operation for over a century. It is now leading the field of engineering in innovation and energy management. “When it comes to our existing facilities and buildings, techno-economic analysis has been conducted to identify opportunities for reducing electricity intensity; while passive cooling measures have been installed to reduce cooling load and increase efficiency. Life cycle assessments (LCAs) are carried out for equipment that the Company uses. Procurement practices have also been upgraded with guidelines and best practices. The procurement and compliance divisions work together to ensure the electrical items we purchase, such as A/C units and light fixtures, are energy efficient.
Taking further steps to boost energy conservation, the Company conducts a comprehensive Quality, Health, Safety, Environment and Energy (QHSEEn) induction for new employees. Most importantly, we carry out a monthly energy audit that enables us to analyse the efficacy of our controls, while identifying opportunities for further gains. By employing such strategies, we were able to achieve an 8.9 per cent reduction in energy intensity this year and obtain an ISO 50001:2018 Standard for our energy management system.
In addition to being responsible for compliance of QHSEEn at Fentons, Nisal develops energy-efficient standards and guidelines for the teams involved in design, installation and maintenance of building systems.
We have identified that over 60 per cent of energy in buildings is used for cooling; our team has been quick to act on this information, proposing the use of highly efficient energy systems, which can help to reduce energy consumption and lower costs.
In the wake of the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, there has been a rush of customers looking to make the switch to solar power. “Despite this being a growth opportunity for Fentons, we have noticed a lack of customer awareness regarding this technology, for example the return on investment associated with implementing such solutions at a domestic level can be prohibitive. Additionally, there is a lack of competent technicians in Sri Lanka, which affects the labour requirement necessary to install and maintain these systems. To address this issue, Fentons works to educate customers and equip technical teams with additional training and supervision.
Energy management is an emerging trend in Sri Lanka and renewable energy generation as a cost saving measure, namely solar power, is where much of the effort is directed. The UNIDO Energy Management Systems (EnMs) training taught me we should instead focus our attention on energy conservation, via a good energy management system, as a first step. It was practical information like this that I found most useful.
There are many benefits that will materialise on a larger scale if we prioritise efficient energy management. We would see reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the potential for greater energy independence for us as a country.”
Upendra Weerathunga is a Senior Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) Expert at the National Cleaner Production Centre Sri Lanka (NCPC) the foremost cleaner production solutions provider in Sri Lanka. She says her passion for protecting the environment runs deep in her blood.
NCPC was launched by UNIDO together with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in 2002, its aim was to improve the environmental performance of industries through cleaner production and resource efficiency; in 2017, it diversified into certification and this is where Upendra found her calling.
Upendra joined the NCPC over ten years ago, with her beginnings as a RECP Technologist, soon after her graduation from university. The Certification Division introduced schemes of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Verification, Verification of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), environmental claims and eco-labelling, the latter being the first green certification programme in Sri Lanka. Taking a special interest in Eco-Labelling, Upendra worked her way to the top of her division.
“I had the opportunity to be part of this initiative that began in 2017, aimed at creating an environmental labeling system for local products. Our current standard is ISO 14024. This programme received technical support from UNEP and Eco Mark Japan.
We conduct an LCA of the products, a requirement for the export market. The labelling system has enabled local products to enter international markets, and currently we provide labelling for three sectors – dairy, tea, and construction and chemicals products. We certify these products with the Eco-label Sri Lanka Mark.
We are now in the process of creating eco-labelling for the textile industry. As a member of the Global Eco-labelling Network, we have gained international recognition for the Eco-label Sri Lanka Mark, which further highlights the importance of our work in promoting sustainable practices in Sri Lanka.”
NCPC also offers: GHG Inventory verification and certification to certify the carbon footprint of organisations, products and projects with the accreditation of Sri Lanka Accreditation Board (SLAB). NCPC has also commenced an accreditation scheme to allow for professional certification of individuals in the environmental sector.
In her work, Upendra has experienced numerous challenges in promoting energy efficiency and adopting cleaner production practices and other environmental management tools. “NCPC was one of the first organisations to learn about LCA and introduce it to the industrial sector. Ten years ago, “Life cycle thinking” was almost unheard of in the country. Today, it is a completely different story. The key is raising awareness; among manufacturers, retailers and the general public.
Energy management and cleaner production are critical for a sustainable future. Though Sri Lanka’s contribution to climate change is low compared to developed nations, being a small island nation that is heavily dependent on agriculture means we are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”
Hearteningly, Upendra has found most Sri Lankans to be environmentally conscious. For example, she has seen concerted efforts being made to change from coal to bio-mass, post being educated on the subject. A number of Sri Lanka’s large companies are developing roadmaps for energy transition but have large economic challenges to overcome.
“I joined the UNIDO Energy Management Systems (EnMs) training to improve my technical capacity so I could better support industries. It is a valuable opportunity when one is able to learn from instructors with international exposure. With an in-depth understanding of industry best practices, I can confidently say I am now able to identify and evaluate gaps, and offer support where necessary. I am proud to be part of the knowledge transfer and implementation process, which allows me to pass that knowledge down to the industries with which I work.”
Indika is a Group Facilities Manager at DIMO, a diversified conglomerate, which has been in operation for over 80 years.
Indika is a nature lover. Driven by a deep appreciation for the gifts of nature, he is constantly seeking ways to give back: one of which is saving energy. This passion is what fuels his interest in energy management and led him to his current position at DIMO.
Established in 1939, DIMO has become a well-respected Sri Lankan brand. Over time, the Company has diversified into ten sectors: agriculture; building services; construction; digital innovation; education; home and garden equipment; healthcare; automotive; industrial automation; and power, energy and water. DIMO’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in its alignment with eight of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including affordable and clean energy. In 2022, DIMO was awarded 1st runner up at the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards.
Recently, DIMO collaborated to install Sri Lanka’s first comprehensive grid-tied renewable energy microgrid at the University of Moratuwa (UOM). It guarantees uninterrupted, renewable power throughout the distribution area at all times. The system was put to the test during the Island’s recent power outages; using 375 kW of solar PV, 418 kWh of battery storage and a 1170kVA backup diesel generator, UOM was able to power its entire premises independently.
Solar Power is also one of DIMO’s biggest sources of renewable energy. Our internal usage is currently 3500MW annually and is projected to grow to 5000MW within the next 3 years. “In my role as a Group Facilities Manager, I oversee the maintenance and monitoring of our premises in Sri Lanka. I also direct and plan essential services, and inspect emergency response equipment. In the project management arm, I am involved in building enhancement, rectification and project delivery. In our vehicle workshops, I work on improving functionality. In each of these areas, I evaluate options for cost saving, many of which are directly tied to energy management.
The diverse structure of the company is the biggest challenge when it comes to improving energy efficiency. The nature of business varies greatly from one sector to another. Investing in training is crucial for promoting the adoption of best practices, creating awareness and improving the knowledge of our staff; this comes at a significant financial cost to the company.
Organizing workshops to train staff is important, but it can be challenging to do so without impacting production. However, as a technical company, we understand the importance of minimizing our impact on the environment; a main focus area is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
I am on a mission to minimize our contribution to global warming. I work closely with our Sustainability Department to educate staff on the importance and benefits of closing any gaps in energy management and cleaner production. I believe 60 per cent of energy management is in our behaviour and practices. I am also in the process of creating an internal team that will carry the lessons even further. Commitment is high and I am keen to keep building on it. My goal is to build an army of energy savers.
Indika feels the UNIDO Energy Management systems (EnMs) training has given him a new perspective. “The instructors were highly knowledgeable and they delivered the material in a practical, structured manner. Thanks to their guidance, I have been able to develop creative solutions that benefit DIMO. Providing the EnMs programme across the island could help address the lack of training and knowledge among technical specialists.”
Looking forward, Indika has set himself the target of obtaining ISO 50001 certification for three of DIMO’s premises, two of which he hopes to receive by November 2023. “When people see cost savings resulting from energy management, behaviours will change; for this I want to set an example for my company and my country.”
Arosha Hemali, Business Development manager at Insee Ecocycle, the waste management arm of the leading cement manufacturer in Sri Lanka, knows how important it is for high-energy consuming sectors like hers to find ways to reduce energy consumption.
“As we all know, energy costs are rising and Sri Lanka lacks natural resources – so to manage this we need knowledge on energy management,” she says. “Very recently, the tariffs for electricity have increased and this will [have an] effect across industries; for the general public, for everybody. We have to find ways and means of saving energy. This is now more of a priority.”
When it comes to reducing carbon emissions, Insee Ecocycle is already ahead of the curve as it already uses biomass as an alternative energy source. It is now planning to increase the volumes of biomass it can absorb in its waste-to-energy operations. And increasingly, its focus is also turning to energy efficiency.
Arosha sees her participation in UNIDO’s one-year Energy Management Systems training as crucial for learning more: “The cement industry is an energy-intensive industry. But it has developed energy-saving methods – I want to gain knowledge on how to improve further.
“As a growing energy expert, I will be able to share my knowledge with others [and take] a pivotal role to implement these systems, not only in our companies but in industries around the globe.”
Arosha is constantly thinking of the next steps to take to reduce her company’s energy use, its carbon footprint, and ever-increasing energy costs. Insee Ecocycle now has solar energy firmly in its sights, driven in part by a likely rise in biomass costs as more and more Sri Lankan companies turn to this renewable.
“My concern is there will be…vast increases in prices because of the demand. If that happens, apart from having more efficient mechanisms with respect to energy efficiency, [it will be important] for industries to get the maximum energy from solar…It is now a priority for our business to improve our solar energy use. This can require high investments, but looking at the future it has to be done.”
Mendaka Hettithanthri, Engineering Manager at Teejay Lanka, one of the largest knit fabric manufacturers in Southeast Asia, has always been interested in sustainability.
“I’m all about ensuring a better future for generations to come,” he says. “As adults, as citizens, that’s our responsibility.”
Each day, Teejay Lanka consumes 75,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, 60 tonnes of coal and 12,000 litres of furnace oil. Unsurprisingly, the energy crisis has hit the company hard. Its monthly electricity bill doubled last year, and another 60% increase is due soon.
“It’s like we are being put into a corner and being punched down,” says Mendaka. “There is no other way out, we have to drive sustainability initiatives.”
Mendaka has worked in Sri Lankan manufacturing industries for 11 years and has seen environmental measures brought in during that time, but he says the shift towards sustainability feels more significant than ever before.
“It’s time now; everyone is talking about this. It’s a global crisis, and there is no way to escape it, other than ride the wave and do what is right. You can already see how global warming is affecting Sri Lankans. We are an agricultural country … and the farmers used to know exactly when to harvest the crops and when to replant. Now the weather patterns are completely messed up … So the signs are obvious.”
Teejay Lanka has already achieved an 81% reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by investing in a steam powered paddle dryer, the largest in the country. In April 2022, Medaka’s team began working on energy efficiency, addressing energy waste in the plant’s thermic heaters by recasting and re-insulating them. Air compressors used in the fabric production process were also made more efficient, and compressor leakages across the whole facility were rectified, enabling one air compressor to be turned off completely. Now, an online energy monitoring system is being installed, and the possibility of installing solar panelling across the plant’s vast roof is being investigated.
In October 2022, Mendaka began the one-year UNIDO Energy Management systems (EnMs) training, enabling Mendaka and his team to take the company to the next level of energy efficiency.
“We were already taking certain initiatives, but not in a properly organized, documented, and process-driven way,” Mendaka explains. “For instance, in the last three months, I’ve gathered data on the monthly consumptions for the last four years. In the last management review, I presented the numbers and the trends and I was able to convince the management to drive towards an EnMS …The objective is to be ISO 50001 accredited within six to nine months.
“In the last two months, our electricity consumption and our bill have already gone down significantly, so we are getting management buy-in – they’re supportive as they’re seeing the results.”
Mendaka estimates that the company will see a 7 to 10 per cent energy performance increase once all the measures are in place.
Mendaka’s focus on energy efficiency is also influencing others in the company and beyond. “I’m inspiring my younger engineers,” he says “I’m telling them to walk the entire production floor every single morning just to listen … [I’m telling them] ‘walk by every single machine, and if you hear any hissing sound, you attend to it’.
“It’s a paradigm shift. We’re going from a certain fixed mindset to a different kind of mindset … We are also trendsetters in the industry, especially when it comes to sustainability initiatives and trying to drive the best production processes, so what we are doing here will definitely be influencing others.”
Dilanka is an energy specialist for Camso Loadstar, a large tire manufacturer in Colombo. The tire manufacturing industry is incredibly energy intensive – a typical plant consumes between 120GWh and 275GWh of energy a year – and Dilanka says there are immediate gains to be made by reducing energy waste across the industry.
“As a nation, we are facing an energy crisis, plus a shortage of foreign currency. In Sri Lanka, the main consumer of foreign currency is energy, especially imported fuel. So, if we can save idle energy, we can save a lot of foreign reserves, easing the pressure on our country.”
Sri Lanka’s essential industries consume about 15 per cent of available oil and 33 per cent of the country’s electricity. If companies from these sectors start to closely monitor their energy use and take action to optimize it, the savings will be almost instantaneous.
Dilanka is one of 70 trailblazers leading the way. In October 2022, he began the internationally-renowned United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Energy Management Systems training course – the first time it has been conducted in Sri Lanka. As part of this, he will spend 12 months systematically reducing the amount of energy his company uses.
Dilanka says he is motivated by being able to do “something good for the country”, while also helping to achieve corporate goals. “Camso Loadstar, which is part of a larger conglomerate of companies, has set a target to reduce energy use by 37 per cent by 2025 compared to 2010, and we are on that journey,” he says.
But saving energy is just the beginning. Camso Loadstar aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, something that is critical for addressing the looming crisis of climate change. In 2018, the company hit the headlines when it installed four acres of solar panels on its Midigama factory, saving 2,000 tons of CO2 each year. It has also brought in systems to keep the company’s progress on track. “We use a tracking system called the Michelin Environmental Footprint indicator to monitor many things, including energy consumption and CO2 emissions,” Dilanka explains.
Dilanka is proud of his contribution, and believes everyone has a role to play – starting with a change in mindset. “[To reduce energy consumption] we should all change our attitudes first.”
Nadeera Ramanayake is all too familiar with the damage soaring energy costs are having on Sri Lankan industries.
As Assistant Director of Planning at Industrial Development Board of Ceylon she spends her days devising and implementing strategies to grow the country’s industries, and describes the energy crisis as a “big problem”.
“The two main reasons for this are the lack of access to energy and the cost. About 40 per cent of industries in Sri Lanka use hydropower as the main source of energy. But we don’t have rain throughout the year, so to generate energy we have to use coal or diesel, which we have to import.
“The foreign exchange we spend on this has become a significant issue today. This makes it a crucial time for us to introduce systematic energy saving methods to industries.”
Nadeera says one of the biggest barriers that is stopping Sri Lankan industries from reaping the benefits of energy optimization is a lack of technical expertise on this subject.
“When you look at Sri Lankan industries most of them need to increase their energy efficiency but do not have sufficient knowledge,” she says – and it’s this that motivated Nadeera to participate in UNIDO’s one-year Energy Management Systems training.
“Amidst the current energy crisis in the country, I thought that joining a project like this and getting knowledge is vital,” she says.
And the more energy savers there are, the more the country will benefit: “Only a selected number of us have the opportunity to take part in this programme. I believe if we can expand this programme at the national level it could have a significant impact on the country.”
Business is about the bottom line – and as companies can save up to 15 per cent in production costs by using energy more efficiently, energy optimization is fast becoming a major priority, particularly as the global energy crisis sees energy prices soar.
It’s no wonder then that Krishna Ranagala, Sustainability and Quality System Development Manager at Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC, a leading regional tea plantation company in Sri Lanka, describes energy efficiency as a “critical success factor”.
“In my company the energy factor is around 30 per cent of our total production costs. Saving energy means a huge gain for us, in profitability and for the overall sustainability journey.”
Energy efficiency is just one of the things Talawakelle Tea Estates PLC is doing to reduce its carbon footprint. The company has commissioned three mini-hydro plants and solar rooftop panels to produce clean and renewable energy. Any excess electricity it produces it sells to the national grid, which also boosts the company’s revenue. It is also the world’s first plantation company to commit to the UN Climate Neutral Now pledge and has set and verified science-based targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Reducing energy consumption is an area Krishna, who is undertaking UNIDO’s Energy Management Systems training, is keen to grow. He sees the benefits of expanding knowledge on energy optimization as wide-reaching: “We know every industry in the country is suffering with a very huge energy crisis and an economic crisis. Therefore, practical knowledge of energy efficiency is vital…this sort of expertise is important and timely.
“Energy management and improving energy efficiency are among my key priorities.”
Thilanka Alwis is the man Sri Lankan companies go to if they want an energy audit or for advice on ways to reduce energy waste. He is a consultant engineer at the Industrial Services Bureau, an organization tasked with accelerating industrial development in the country, and is not short of his own energy expertise. But there is always more to learn.
One of the subject areas most of interest for Thilanka right now is the ISO-50001:2018 Energy Management System (EnMS), an international standard designed to guide companies committed to addressing energy waste and their environmental impact by bringing in more efficient energy management.
Thilanka is learning about ISO-50001:2018 by participating in UNIDO’s one-year Energy Management Systems training and sees the knowledge he will gain on this issue as invaluable.
“EnMS can transform Sri Lanka’s industries’ energy efficiency,” he says. “So as someone working in the industry, gaining practical knowledge and exchanging my knowledge with industries [is important].
“From the knowledge I gain, I hope to identify a few industries in the coming months that can implement ISO-50001 and lay the basic foundation for this process. The current energy crisis in Sri Lanka – the demand and rising costs – has directly affected industries. To reduce these effects and create [change], energy efficiency and energy security is crucial.”
Despite the turbulence of global energy markets, Thilanka firmly believes that systems such as ISO-50001 will give the country the solutions it needs to weather the storm.
“The way we practically implement this knowledge, and the learnings we gain from local and international experts, will bring a positive future towards energy efficiency in industries in Sri Lanka,” he says.