UK food processors could save £120,000 (€141,000) through eco-friendly factory design, according to Chalcroft Construction, which specialises in food industry projects.
According to a white paper produced by the firm, food manufacturers often consult construction firms at too late a stage in a project to implement eco-friendly changes effectively.
“All too often, construction companies are consulted too late in the process to allow their significant expertise to be used effectively," said Mark Reeve, managing director for Chalcroft Construction.
"The net result is that a significant opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the security of future energy supplies is being missed.”
They also often avoid investing in aspects of green design because they thought they would cost more than standard features.
However, Mark Reeve, managing director for Chalcroft, said this was often not the case and there were easy wins firms could achieve in the field, for example, of energy efficient lighting, he told FoodProductionDaily.com.
"There are lots of ways around illumination of space, fittings responsive to movement. You could save 40-50% of your energy bills."
In terms of other areas in current demand, he added: "People are looking at plant equipment that is low energy, that [for example] has forms of recovery of heat energy.
Refrigeration systems were a source of considerable saving, through for example minimising energy required to kick start their freezing cycle
Costs for such changes had decreased substantially as demand had eased off and materials and technology had become more widely available, he said.
However, he admitted there were some aspects that still carried a high price tag, particularly sustainable energy projects, such as solar (photovoltaic) panelling or wind turbines.
In such cases, Reeve recognised the commercial reality that some firms were held back from investment because they simply did not have sufficient capital expenditure. That was regardless of whether or not the return on investment in a reasonable timescale could be demonstrated.
He called for industry, designers, architects and construction firms to work collaboratively on cost-effective solutions that could still recoup substantial savings.
His comments came as Bombay Sapphire's gin distillery at Laverstoke Mill in the UK was awarded the world's first 'outstanding' design stage sustainability accreditation from Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).
The site has been named as one of the world's most sustainable distilleries ahead of opening in Autumn 2013. The building has achieved a 60% reduction in carbon emissions and an 85% improvement over what is required by building regulations.
Design characteristics include power generation from the River Test which flows through the site, photovoltaic cells, a bio-fuelled steam-generating boiler and 6kW hydro-electric water wheel.