Interview with Fred Fendt, Global Manufacturing Energy Efficiency & Sustainability Manager, The Dow Chemical Company

This blog was originally posted by the Net Zero Build Summit on February 7, 2020.

Hi Fred, could you please tell us a little bit more about your role with the Dow Chemical Company?

I keep track of the energy Dow uses in manufacturing our products. Each Dow site worldwide and each business unit has an energy focal point, and I lead this network of people looking for opportunities to reduce our energy intensity in manufacturing. Using less energy, saves Dow money, uses less energy resources, and reduces emissions. It truly is a win-win-win! I also collect and report our energy usage and our Scope I and Scope II GHG emissions data. Dow has committed to remaining below our 2006 GHG emissions on an absolute basis, and I help track our emissions and make sure we have a strategy that helps us meet that goal even as the company continues to grow!

Can manufacturers really improve their competitiveness in industrial markets by streamlining energy usage and incorporating more sustainable procedures?

Yes, absolutely. First of all, reducing energy intensity reduces your cost to produce goods, and that alone improves your competitiveness. Second, reduced energy usage, and associated emissions, makes Dow a better neighbour, and a better world citizen. Dow’s products also make a big impact on our customer’s ability to be sustainable. One metric we track and report externally is our “hand print” to “foot print” ratio. This is the impact our products have for our customers divided by the impact from our manufacturing. Dow has publicly committed to be a leader in energy and CO2 footprint mitigation across multiple product lines ensuring a mitigation multiple of no less than 3:1. (In other words, Dow will achieve a ratio of benefits-to-burden of no less than 3:1.)

How are sustainability initiatives impacting the manufacturing process in Dow Chemical Company?

In manufacturing, there are thousands of ways it impacts our processes. From simple things like high efficiency lighting and better insulation, to fundamental changes to the process itself, we are always looking for ways to use less energy, and to reduce our carbon footprint. And as I said above, we also pride ourselves on producing products that help our customers become more sustainable in their manufacturing processes because they use Dow products.

What tools are being used within your group to evaluate energy end uses (e.g. lighting, HVAC systems, automated material handling equipment) in a complex industrial environment?

We use a variety of tools, both internally developed and externally sourced. We routinely conduct site assessments for steam trap failures, steam leaks, compressed air leaks, and insulation repair. We also conduct assessments of the site lighting, etc. periodically. We do energy assessments of the process unit operations. We also incorporate energy efficiency in the design of any new manufacturing plant. One area that requires constant vigilance is repurposing of existing equipment or spaces. For example, the HVAC required for a clean room uses many times as much energy as the HVAC required for a general purpose space, such as a storage room. If a clean room stops being used as a clean room, and is used for storage, unless someone takes action, a lot of energy gets wasted providing clean room quality HVAC where it is no longer needed.

What is your company doing to align energy efficiency efforts with corporate goals and strategic decisions (e.g. location decisions, demand management, technology selection and deployment, investments in R&D)?

We have the network of site and business energy focal points I mentioned above. That network is tasked with making sure that each site and each business unit is contributing to our externally announced 2025 Sustainability Goals. ( In particular, this network focuses on the commitment to stay below our 2006 absolute GHG emissions and our commitments around renewable power. In addition, each business and each site has an energy intensity improvement plan and internal improvement goals.

What audience profile are you most looking forward to meeting at the NetZeroBuild Summit and why?

Interesting question. I truly believe that Dow manufactures products that benefit the world. We make the world a better place because we manufacture our products. That is the point of achieving a ratio of benefits-to-burden of no less than 3:1. I most look forward to meeting people that might have questions about Dow, or about our industry, or maybe about manufacturing itself, and having a chance to make the case that Dow products do benefit the world. It does take resources to make our products, but we work hard to make sure that in the net, the benefits far outweigh the costs, and I look forward to being able to make that point, and then listening to other points of view.