Vol. 23   No. 2
Summer 2017
  • MGE Talks Business
News Briefs

Wisconsin Foam Operates in New, Energy-Efficient Facility

Wisconsin Foam Operates in New, Energy-Efficient Facility

Wisconsin Foam's new 150,000-square-foot facility on Madison's east side.

You probably encounter foam products every day. They're found in everything from cars, wheelchairs and agricultural equipment to airplanes, cosmetics and sporting goods. These types of foam products are fabricated in an energy-efficient environment at Wisconsin Foam's new 150,000-square-foot facility on Madison's east side.

After outgrowing its previous building and enduring a more-than-two-year planning process, the company moved into its new facility this spring. Nearly three times the size of the former building, it is packed full of energy-efficient features.

"Saving energy was at the forefront throughout our expansion process," said Rick Heinritz, President and CEO. "As someone who enjoys the outdoors, I've always been committed to reducing pollution and making wise choices to protect the environment. When that means saving energy too, it's a win-win situation."

One of the most visible green features of Wisconsin Foam's new building is the 100-kilowatt solar array installed on the rooftop. Heinritz expects the system to produce about 20% of the electricity the company consumes.

Wisconsin Foam installed a data monitoring system for the solar array. Heinritz and his team will use it to monitor real-time, daily and monthly operating efficiency.

"This was a $250,000 investment. However, with federal energy credits and projected energy savings, we expect to achieve payback in five-and-one-half years, making a project of this scale economically viable," Heinritz explained. "It's rewarding to know that the sun will generate renewable energy to operate our equipment."

Wisconsin Foam also participates in MGE's Green Power Tomorrow program. They joined the program at their old facility in 2008 and continue to participate at the new facility. Through this effort, Wisconsin Foam chooses to pay a premium to purchase a portion of its electricity from renewable sources, like wind and solar.

"It makes sense to spend the extra money when it supports something we believe in," Heinritz said. "I participate in Green Power Tomorrow at my home too."

Another important feature at the new facility is a geothermal energy production system. More than 23,000 linear feet of plastic pipe is installed in the ground. The system takes heat from the earth at 55°F and uses it to cool the building in summer and heat it in winter. Geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuel, instead they transfer heat to and from the earth to provide an efficient, environmentally friendly method of heating and cooling. This system will heat and cool the 12,500-square-foot office area at Wisconsin Foam.

Additionally, about one-third of the building, where raw inventory is stored, uses a separate infrared heating system. The heat in this area can be turned down to 50°F in winter, which helps reduce energy use.

Other energy-saving measures

Additional energy-efficient features in the facility include lighting technologies:

  • Lighting zones with controls in the warehouse automatically dim or turn off lighting in unoccupied areas.
  • 100 windows and 68 skylights provide daylighting. Not only is this energy efficient, but natural light can provide a more comfortable, pleasant work environment.

Recycling is part of the culture at Wisconsin Foam too. The company reports a recycling rate greater than 90%. Most unused product is either recycled or sold to other markets that can use the materials.

"With everything up and running in our new facility, we look forward to operating at a more efficient level, quantifying our energy savings and continuing to do our part for the environment," Heinritz said.