Energy – Prosser Organic Facility

Meet Greener Fields Together National Farms Partner:

Rainier Fruit Company, a family-owned company dating back to 1888, is one of the largest growers of apples, pears, cherries, and blueberries in the United States. Headquartered in Washington State, Rainier has packing and storage facilities in both Selah and Prosser, WA. The company’s organic apples and cherries are processed at the Prosser facility, which boxes 90 million pounds of organic fruit each year.

5Ps Verified Case Study: Energy & Climate
As part of its Good Stewardship Program, Rainier is dedicated to conserving energy as one of its main goals. In 2012, Rainier completed major renovations to modernize its 50-year-old Prosser facility, making energy efficiency a top priority. SureHarvest documented and verified the Prosser energy program using the 5Ps of Sustainability™.

Sustainability Highlights
Rainier has a history of commitment to sustainability initiatives that is demonstrated in its Good Stewardship Program. This commitment is evident in the significant investment in energy efficiency at its organic-certified facility in Prosser, WA. The company has a highly responsive, process-based management system, facilitating continuous improvement at the plant and throughout the company.

Completed in 2012, Rainier’s energy-efficient improvements at the Prosser facility are expected to save 3.44 million kWh per year. The fully renovated facility is 35% more efficient than before, and the company expects to realize a return on investment within two years.

1. Sustainability Principles 
Rainier is committed to producing its fruit using the most environmentally sustainable practices in the industry. It views its primary responsibility as a good steward to grow the finest-quality fruit by using the natural resources entrusted to it, without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same, and with a commitment to its community and employees.

2. Sustainability Processes 
Rainier’s energy management process is committed to first meeting and then exceeding energy efficient industry standards for all new construction or renovation projects. Rainier made energy efficiency a top priority in the much-needed modernization of the 50-year-old organic facility in Prosser, WA. In collaboration with the local power utility company, Rainier’s management team identified the top opportunities to significantly upgrade its facility by using cost-effective technologies that ensured product quality while saving energy.

Energy Flow

3. Sustainability Practices 
Rainier implemented a series of energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption  and costs at its storage, packing and shipping facility in Prosser. Key upgrades and improvements included:

  • Variable-frequency drives on fans
  • Installation of new, improved industrial-grade compressors
  • System software upgrades to increase the control and automation of controlled atmosphere rooms
  • New control valves to reduce system pressures
  • Replacing cold-storage doors with state-of-the art insulated automatic doors that use infrared sensors to quickly open and close

In addition, the company has installed energy-efficient fluorescent lights in facility offices. Rainier has also transitioned half of its company-wide forklift fleet from propane fuel to electricity—saving long-term energy costs while producing no harmful emissions. The company has also replaced the plant’s wastewater pond aerators with ones that have variable-speed drives for long-term electrical savings.

4. Sustainability Performance Metrics
Rainier regularly reviews its electricity bills and compares energy use to similar time frames in previous years. The company technicians and facility staff are responsible for properly maintaining the equipment to ensure that it is operating in a safe and efficient manner. Rainier is committed to continually searching for new technologies and opportunities to better measure and manage its energy use.

5. Sustainability Progress
Rainier utilizes a sophisticated, process-based management system to facilitate continuous improvement throughout the company. Continuous improvement is supported through weekly, bimonthly, and annual meetings involving key personnel at every level in the company. The company’s commitment to its process-based management system is further enhanced using a dedicated software system to organize and track core issues and action items over time.

Realizing that its employees are integral to its strategy, the company utilizes several formal methods to encourage communication and accountability across all levels of the company. Continually looking for ways to improve its efficient use of energy, relevant personnel were trained on all new equipment upgrades at the Prosser facility. 

New employees receive a formal orientation that includes a facility tour and overview of energy-related practices and procedures. Additionally, annual performance evaluations are conducted against the company vision.

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