html{display:none} SEL and Sustainability | Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

SEL and Sustainability

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SEL and Sustainability

Whether it’s through daily efforts on our campuses, our reduced packaging and shipping, or our quality products, SEL plans for and engages in sustainable and environmentally responsible practices. Our values are at the heart of these efforts as we strive to be a good neighbor and responsible partner, to consider the future, and to practice integrity in all that we do.

SEL Products

The foundation of our company comes from our constant goal to make our products so reliable they last 20-30 years. A focus on long-lasting, quality products is a solid starting point for our sustainability efforts.

We want to see what the future looks like and use our great products to build that future.
David Graham,
Engineering Services Manager
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SEL microgrid solutions help improve the reliability of power from renewable resources.

Aggregating renewable energy sources in a microgrid helps mitigate inconsistent power by combining multiple sources into one generation output that is less variable than any single renewable source.

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Wind Power

SEL helped Belgian grid operator Elia to implement a special protection scheme, allowing them to integrate offshore wind power into the European grid, generating power for the mainland and beyond.

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Solar Power

Storing solar energy to improve the reliability of bulk electricity.

SEL Engineering Services partnered with a building solutions company to devise a way to store energy from solar panels for use by customers when the need is highest, improving the reliability of the bulk electric. This was done through the installation of a Real-Time Automation Controller (RTAC), meter, and SEL-3622 Security Gateway for communication to the dispatcher’s systems for each site.


Our focus on quality helps lead us down a path of sustainability. Designing products that are manufactured to be in service for 20–30 years, and a constant focus on quality, means reducing defects, and eventually that starts to reduce waste overall.

Better solutions are often more sustainable.
Leith Sorenson,
Senior Vice President of Manufacturing
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Vertical Integration

With much of our supply chain incorporated into the company, we shorten lead times, keep our supply chain up to our standards, and save costs for our customers, but it also means we use less packaging and require less shipping.

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Simplified Processes

We are consistently researching and implementing small changes that can make a big impact.

Our engineers and employee owners work to simplify the manufacturing process through world-class manufacturing principles, contributing to sustainability and reducing our environmental impact. Some examples include using the same pallets from our suppliers to ship our final products to customers and going straight from the dock to the manufacturing floor, reducing storage and forklift use.

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Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Factory

SEL recently broke ground on a new PCB factory just seven miles from our main manufacturing facilities. Thanks to a unique water recycling method, this will be one of the most environmentally friendly PCB factories in the world.


Packaging and Shipping

We are proud to employ engineers whose sole job is to keep our packaging and shipping as lean as possible while still delivering quality products safely. In the spirit of creativity, these engineers streamline and combine in order to eliminate waste..

A lot of sustainable practices are also good business practices. They are the right thing to do.
Jessi Hall,
Senior Director, Vertical Integration
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Reusing Packaging Between Facilities

Vertical integration means sometimes we are just shipping very short distances between our own campuses. In some of these cases, we are reusing our packaging material. With some of our products, we were able to eliminate boxes altogether, stacking them on pallets using just corner packaging.

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We partnered with our cabinet supplier to reduce waste. Instead of receiving their cabinets in one set of boxes and then using new boxes to ship out our finished products, they buy the boxes we will eventually use directly from our supplier. When their cabinets reach us, we buy those boxes from them and use them to ship our final product, cutting packaging in half.

We take partnership really seriously, and we work really hard at it.
Jessi Hall,
Senior Director, Vertical Integration

Milk Run

Instead of several trucks a day coming from neighboring towns with shipments, and several SEL trucks also delivering things to those towns, we developed what we call a “milk run.”

One of our trucks filled with deliveries drives from Pullman to Spokane, makes deliveries and fills up that space in the truck with things that would have been delivered to us, then heads to Lewiston to do the same and back to Pullman—one filled truck on the road rather than several partially filled trucks.

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Supplier Partners

Our battery supplier has been shipping batteries to us in individual boxes.

In 2021, we piloted a program with this supplier partner in which these 40-pound batteries will be shipped on pallets without boxes. Engineering a solution to ensure the batteries arrive safely without the usual boxes took collaboration, and some trial and error, but we are on track to save over 8,000 boxes a year.

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Packaging Partners

We use a packaging supplier in Seattle and Oregon for our Pullman and Lewiston campuses, but when we opened our Purdue facility, we realized we didn’t want this packaging material shipped that far. Through our partnership with our Seattle supplier, we found a solution. They shared the packaging and shipping plan and design with a supplier close to the Purdue facility. So, we still have the same packaging designs that work best with our products but local to our Purdue campus, which means much less shipping.


On Campus

We know that daily practices can add up to big change. We strive to break down environmental initiatives into projects we can incorporate into everyday practices on our SEL campuses.

I found we were doing well; we met the standard, but we could do even better.
Jake McKenzie,
Property Operations Manager
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All our cardboard and film solutions are curbside recyclable, but we go beyond what’s required and pay to recycle things we aren’t required to, like batteries.

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Heating and Cooling

We have installed computerized thermostats in our airport hangars rather than manually adjusting them, which often means overcorrecting. We are also replacing all rooftop air conditioning units with more efficient ones.

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We have replaced several thousand regular fluorescent lightbulbs with LED bulbs on the manufacturing floor and office spaces of our manufacturing building. This alone will save 437,461 kWh per year. We are expanding this project to our other buildings.

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Landscaping and Watering

We are currently incorporating more dry land, removing landscaping, taking out turf grass, and using soil moisture sensors on our campuses. So far, we have reduced our water use on our Lewiston campus by half.

To learn more about the values at the heart of everything we do, including our sustainability efforts, visit our Values page.

Read about our values
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