FLEXcon Manufacturing

Developing a utility master plan to implementation


FLEXcon, based in Spencer, Massachusetts, is a major manufacturer of pressure-sensitive films and adhesives for wide-web roll-to-roll polymeric materials. In 2010, Fulcrum was invited by FLEXcon to assist in their vision to maximize energy efficiency, to reduce its carbon footprint and provide their clients with a more sustainable product.  

Fulcrum developed a comprehensive Utility Master Plan that focused on the integration of a centralized cooling and heating platform across the Spencer complex. It also was important that these proposed systems fulfilled FLEXcon’s vision to provide meaningful environmental controls and support their manufacturing processes, their various administrative and support functions and R&D facilities.

We identified significant energy savings opportunities that were refined and prioritized with further detailed analyses. One of the most significant elements of our recommendations was the identification of a centralized cooling platform that reduced cooling production costs by over 70%. The Utility Master Plan also identified energy savings opportunities involving waste heat and cogeneration.

FLEXcon approved the implementation of the plan's 1st phase which consisted of the development of a centralized water-cooled high efficiency chilled water system. This new central plant utilized frictionless Maglev compressor chillers, and served the Spencer complex’s process and comfort loads. It also replaced the existing inefficient DX package units that were spread throughout the multi-building site. A new hydronic distribution system was installed to feed the distributed loads. The plan also called for infrastructure support to accommodate future growth, which was to include a new research building.


Coincident with our study, FLEXcon decided to construct a new state-of-the-art research and development building, with an intended occupancy prior to the full implementation of the utility master plan. Fulcrum needed to ensure the new building would be successfully integrated with the recommended centralized campus distribution, as well as maximize building energy efficiency while ensuring optimal performance of the lab spaces. Fulcrum was asked to provide enhanced commissioning services for the R&D building project, including design oversight, to assist the R&D project team with this integration.


To accommodate the R&D Lab’s urgent need for an efficient source of chilled water, Fulcrum re-assessed its initial strategy to develop a single CHW plant. Instead, we designed and managed the installation of a chilled water mini-plant, with the intention to cross connect it with another mini-plant at a future site. This was sized to accommodate not only the new R&D Lab, but to also handle existing CHW loads of both manufacturing process and space cooling of nearby facilities.

Fulcrum’s ability to quickly adapt to changing project dynamics is a characteristic of our team and service delivery approach that can greatly benefit a client as dynamic and as visionary as FLEXcon.


Fulcrum is currently designing and will soon implement the 2nd phase of the program which includes the construction for the 2nd mini-plant and new distribution loop to serve the balance of the manufacturing and office spaces on the Spencer complex. This project will also lay the groundwork for waste heat and cogeneration opportunities that will be available as future market and utility conditions warrant.

Once completed, this new centralized approach to generating and distributing both heating and cooling throughout this manufacturing complex will significantly decrease annual energy costs, improve product sustainability, address long-standing deferred maintenance issues, improve process systems reliability and enhance staff comfort in several separate office locations.