The Industrial Assessment Center is a US Department of Energy Program which is designed to provide small and medium-sized manufacturers, industrial facilities, and wastewater treatment plants a no-cost energy assessment. The assessments are conducted with an on-site visit to identify opportunities to improve productivity and competitiveness, reduce waste, and save energy. IAC assessments are in-depth evaluations of a facility conducted by engineering faculty with upper class and graduate students from a participating university. After a remote survey of the plant, the team conducts a one or two-day site visit to take engineering measurements. The team performs a detailed process analysis to generate specific recommendations with estimates of costs, performance, and payback times. Within 60 days, the plant receives a confidential report detailing the analysis, findings, and recommendations. In six to nine months, the IAC team calls the plant manager to verify what recommendations have been implemented. IACs typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities for every manufacturer assessed, nearly $50,000 of which is implemented during the first year following the assessment. Plants are eligible to receive an IAC assessment if they meet the following criteria:
- Within Standard Industrial Codes (SIC) 20-39
- Located less than 150 miles away from of a participating university
- Gross annual sales below $100 million
- Fewer than 500 employees at the plant site
- Annual energy bills more than $100,000 and less than $2.5 million
- No professional in-house staff to perform the assessment
There are currently 28 IACs located at universities around the country. IAC teams consist of engineering students being led by a professional engineer. The program yields valuable real world field experience to these engineering students, resulting in a quick and easy transition for many of them into an energy-related career upon graduating.